Dogs like sweet things. If they grab a cookie or two, no big deal. But Canines commonly become poisoned – dangerously so,  when they consume automobile antifreeze.  

In this week’s Raising Your Paws podcast, episode 36, Title:  How Good is a Dog and Cat’s sense of Taste & Why Dogs Attack People and How to Prevent it,  you can hear  all about your pet’s taste buds and what they taste compared to you.  

Both you and your dog can taste sweet things and unfortunately the ethylene glycol in antifreeze tastes very sweet to a dog and they like and are attracted to it. Have you seen those green colored puddles of liquid under cars or left in parking spaces? I used to see them all the time, in the parking lot, when I lived in my condo with Rosy. We steered clear of them.  Leaks from the car’s radiator or coolant system leaves those puddles of antifreeze on driveways, on the street and on the floor of your garage. By the way, dogs that are housed  in garages, even just part time, are at greater risk of antifreeze poisoning.

Most dogs that are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze, will lick it directly from the containers or puddles they find but other dogs can become indirectly poisoned as they clean up their soiled paws and fur.  A cat is not attracted to the sweet taste but if it gets on its paws, it will lick it off when they are washing themselves. It is more common for dogs to become poisoned than cats. As little as ½ cup can kill a small to medium sized dog but one teaspoon can kill a cat.  Studies in U.S. suggest that between 10,000 and 30,000 dogs die each year of this type of poisoning and the cases seem to increase twice a year as people add antifreeze in fall and remove it in spring. 

Signs of Antifreeze Poisoning:

Early signs are drunken looking behavior such as wobbling and staggering then vomiting and diarrhea can follow.  The symptoms do go away within 12 hours…but this does not mean the danger is passed. It gets worse, the digested antifreeze travels to the liver where it is broken down into toxic by-products.  Those by-products then travel to the kidney which causes it to shut down and the dog and cat will no longer be able to urinate.  Once this happens, the pet can go into a coma and die.  As you can tell, this is serious, scary, stuff.  The fatality rate is high and so if your pet laps up any amount of antifreeze, take immediate action –  even if you only suspect they got into it.   

What To Do First:

Call your vet immediately or the ASPCA poison control center – 888-426-4435  to determine if you should induce vomiting. You only want to induce vomiting if your pet is fully conscious and in complete control.  Woozy “drunk” pets can inhale the vomited material when it’s on the way up and suffocate.  If your dog is acting drunk or depressed, just get to the emergency vet right away.

To induce vomiting: Use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution.  You can buy hydrogen peroxide at any drug store or the drug departments in grocery stores.

The dosage is about 1- 2 teaspoons for every 10 pounds of your pet.  Use an eyedropper or cooking baster to squirt the mixture to the back of your pet’s tongue.  The foaming action and taste is what triggers the gag reflex which causes the vomiting. Your pet should vomit within 5 minutes – if not, repeat 2-3 more  times allowing 5 minutes between doses.   

Then Get Medical Attention Immediately.

Remember,  the symptoms go away but the damage is still going on in your pet’s body.  There is effective treatment that the vet can do if it is started soon enough.

 A Safer Antifreeze Alternative/Preventative to Use.

Purchase and use the less harmful type of antifreeze -a propylene glycol-based one for your car.  Propylene glycol is not totally non-toxic but is considerably less poisonous than ethylene glycol. It’s also not as sweet tasting so it is not as attractive to dogs.  And great news for the car, there appears to be no performance differences between ethylene and propylene glycol antifreeze, so it’s a no-brainer choice  to keep your dog’s love of sweet things and habit of eating from off the ground, free from harm.   

 What is so important about the month of February for Pets? 

It’s February 26 as I’m writing this blog. Is it raining cats and dogs? No, but there are wild dogs and cats on the streets –millions of them, world wide.

A group of homeless cats on a city street hunting pigeons.

Have you seen groups of feral cats living by you or when you travel? Do you have populations of homeless dogs roaming the streets where you live? Pet overpopulation is an issue all over the world.  In the U.S. alone, 30 million puppies and kittens are born each year. This means there is the  ratio of seven pets born for every human birth. At this rate, there will simply never be enough available homes for all these companion animals. Estimates now suggest that only one out every 10 animals born will find a permanent home. The current estimate of homeless dogs worldwide is over 500 million, with the number of homeless cats likely even greater.

Street dog overpopulation occurs in many countries around the world. A few examples to give you a more worldly view: if you were watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi you may recall coverage about the overwhelming pet overpopulation problem that exists in Russia, and stories of many athletes that attempted to bring pets home to their own countries.

Feral dogs foraging in rubbish on a Mumbai, India beach.

On the popular paradise island of Mauritius, there is an estimated quarter of a million of dogs, most of whom are owned,  but are free to roam the streets and beaches and in certain places such as the hotels, they are sometimes considered a nuisance. Thousands of puppies are born on the streets of Mauritius each year because most dog owners don’t sterilize their dogs. The people of Mauritius are known to love their dogs, but many simply don’t have access to local veterinary care to prevent the endless number of puppies being born, and responsible dog ownership has never been taught in many communities. This is changing now. Thousands of dogs and puppies are being spayed and neutered as part of the animal charity, Humane Society International’s mission,  to help the government humanely reduce the number of dogs roaming the streets, beaches and hotels. Education and awareness talks are also being provided.

Companion animal overpopulation is a complex problem spanning issues of human health due to the potential spread of zoonotic diseases to financial burdens placed on nations worldwide to the millions of domesticated cats and dogs globally, surviving without homes.

Due to the complexities, many governments and local authorities implement sporadic mass culls where dogs are killed. As well as being cruel, culls are ultimately ineffective because although they produce immediate results, over time they simply provide a vacuum in the local dog population to be filled by more breeding and other dogs moving in to the area.

So what is the solution? Currently, it is well accepted and supported that the only long-term effective and humane means of pet population control and decreasing the number of homeless animals put down in shelters or living on the street worldwide, is through targeted, affordable spay and neutering programs

Today is World Spay Day. (Feb. 26) It kicks off a month of awareness and the promotion of dog and cat spay/neuter programs. Preventing litters reduces the number of animals for whom resources such as homes, constant food and care are not available.

Most people support spay/neuter, but affordable services are out of reach for many pet owners, and funding is always needed for street animal surgeries.

To this end, veterinarians are well-known for passionately supporting such programs, often offering discounted procedures and organizations such as World Vets run programs for volunteer veterinarians and technicians to travel to countries such as Nicaragua and Paraguay to perform large-scale spay and neuter programs.

Then there are local, organizations, who are helping, such as Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program, (MN SNAP) whose mission  is to end the suffering and death of Minnesota cats and dogs due to overpopulation by providing both high-quality, affordable and accessible spay and neuter services to those in need, and animal welfare education in the communities they serve. 

One of MN SNAP’s clients. A sweet  cat, Moo Moo.

Another one of MN SNAP’s clients, a pit bull puppy. 

They provided the materials for this article. Thank you, MN SNAP.

Besides addressing the overall pet population problem, there are other physiological benefits to spaying and neutering our pet dogs and cats, which is why vets, breeders and adoption agencies suggest or require it.

Here are few of them from the MN SNAP website.

*   Neutering male cats and dogs decreases urine odor and marking behaviors.
*   Neutering male dogs decreases the tendency of roaming and aggression.
*   Spaying and neutering decreases the risk of dog bites.  (* regarding dog bites, Listen to the second segment of Raising Your Paws podcast episode 36 – Why dogs attack people. Time stamp: 11:33. One of the reasons has to do with this photo below.)

*   Spaying and neutering pet’s decreases behavioral problems.
*   Spaying and neutering reduces the number of pets killed in shelters.

For more information about MN SNAP, and to see the numerous links they provide if you’d like to read more, please see Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program’s website.

It is good to know that many countries, states and cities offer free or low cost spay/neuter programs for the public. Check your local listings or on-line for agencies near you that can help.

Full Show Notes for Raising Your Paws Podcast Episode 36.

Title: How Good is a Dog and Cat’s sense of Taste & Why Dogs Attack People and How to Prevent it. Listen to the episode here.

You know your pet loves food but have you ever wondered what they actually can taste compared to you? I’ll explain the similarities and differences between your taste buds and dogs and cats. Did you know that there is a fifth identified taste detector on your tongue that you share with your pets?  Find out what it is here.   

Talking about dogs biting people is a disturbing issue.  Contrary to what many people think and you may have experienced, there are very specific reasons that dogs bite and attack people. Dog aggression expert, Bryan Bailey, author of the book, “The Hammer: Why Dogs Attack Us And How to Prevent It” will explain how dogs have retained the survival strategies of wolves, the subtle signs that dogs give that an attack is coming and how you can prevent dog bites and attacks.

 Resources for this Episode.

 Source for the story about pet’s taste buds – How Dogs Think by Stanley Coren.

Bryan Bailey’s Website.

Bryan Bailey.

Bryan Bailey’s “Taming the Wild” Training and Boarding Company.

Amazon link to order The Hammer: Why Dogs Attack Us and How to Prevent It.