Antifreeze: The Sweet Toxic Killer

Antifreeze has a sweet taste that animals love, but it is highly toxic. Just one tablespoon is enough to kill a cat or small dog. By taking simple preventative measures, you can keep animals including pets, farm animals and wildlife safe.


  • Promptly clean up spills – even the smallest amount can be toxic. Ethylene glycol, the chemical commonly used in antifreeze, is also found in paint, stains and cosmetics. Keep those products, or any product that contains ingredients that you are uncertain of, out of your pet’s reach.
  • Never pour used antifreeze down the drain, in the gutter or flush it down the toilet. Always dispose of used or unwanted chemicals at your local recycling centre. For a list of facilities that accept antifreeze visit the Recycling Council of Alberta’s Recycling Hotline.
  • Always keep an eye on your dog if you are in unfamiliar places where hazardous chemicals may be lurking such as in garages, or on driveways and roads.
  • Keep your cat indoors. Cats that are kept inside are far less likely to ingest toxic chemicals.
  • Watch your pets for abnormal behaviour.  The sooner antifreeze poisoning is detected the greater the chance of survival and recovery. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, or if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, take them to a veterinarian immediately: vomiting, lethargy, appearing uncoordinated or disoriented, difficulty breathing, increased thirst and urination.
  • If possible, switch to the newly developed pet-friendly antifreeze containing propylene glycol, which is less toxic to animals and has a bitter taste. If your service centre doesn’t carry this antifreeze, encourage them to order it.

Source: Alberta SPCA