Animals enjoy the sweet taste of ethylene glycol, the compound found in antifreeze. But that sweet taste can kill them. The Humane Society Legislative Fund estimates between 10,000 and 90,000 animals are poisoned annually from ingesting antifreeze and engine coolant.
Although it is currently a law in seventeen states that a bittering agent must be added to ethylene glycol products, there is no Federal law. Last Dec., however, the Consumer Specialty Products Association and Humane Society Legislative Fund announced that antifreeze manufacturers have agreed to add a bittering agent to their products. The bitter taste should make the antifreeze unpalatable to animals and children.
HSLF says one teaspoon of antifreeze or engine coolant can kill an average-sized cat. And animals can have easy access to the toxic substances. Antifreeze and engine coolant often spill onto driveways and roads. Also the products are invitingly easy to reach if kept in open containers.
The Humane Society of the United States suggests that pet owners continue to take precautions with their animals while around products containing ethylene glycol. Antifreeze and engine coolant still contain toxic substances, so it is wise to keep those products out of the reach of children and animals.
They also recommend the following on the HSUS website:
- Switch to a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.
- Keep antifreeze sealed and away from animals; clean up spills completely, and fix any leaks immediately.
- Don't allow your pet to wander unattended near driveways, roads, garages, or other places where she could come into contact with antifreeze.
- Keep other products that contain ethylene glycol—like paint, cosmetics and novelty snow globes—out of the reach of animals, as well as any product of which you are not certain of the ingredients.
- Monitor your pet for strange behavior. If you think she may have ingested antifreeze, take her to a veterinarian immediately.
Remember that a little precaution early on can save the cost of expensive vet bills. Or more importantly, the life of your pet.
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