The leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter and over there is a definite nip to the air, signalling that it’s time to acquire our cars prepared for the ice and cold. Antifreeze is vital ingredient for a functional automobile during Canadian winters, however what’s an excellent for cars deserve to be a disaster for wildlife. At the BC node of the CWHC we check out a few cases of deadly antifreeze toxicity every year in a variety of wildlife ranging from soil squirrels and also raccoons come bears and also coyotes.

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The vast bulk of antifreeze is consisted of of 95% ethylene glycol, i beg your pardon is diluted to 50% in vehicle cooling systems. Ethylene glycol is exceptionally toxic to all animals, including humans. Less than a tespoon (5mL) the undiluted antifreeze is enough to death a cat, and also less than a 4 minutes 1 cup (125 mL) deserve to kill an adult human. Not just is that dangerous to wildlife because it is toxic in little amounts, yet it also tastes sweet, and has a short freezing point so that is liquid when water is ice, i beg your pardon attracts animals to consume it. To aid deter consumption by children, the BC federal government has required a “bittering agent” to be included to antifreeze due to the fact that 2011, yet the results of this on consumption by wild pets is unknown.

The most common clinical indications reported in instances submitted come the CWHC BC space neurological indications such as incoordination, challenge moving the hind end, and sometimes seizures. One raccoon to be submitted through a history of “unusual friendliness”.


Once ingested, ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed, reaching height blood concentrations in about three hours. Symptoms for this duration are mild, frequently resembling intoxication v alcohol. Over the course of the following several hrs ethylene glycol is metabolized by the liver and also kidneys, and also that is as soon as it becomes a actual problem. Build-up of among the metabolites, glycolic acid, outcomes in a major metabolic acidosis (decreased blood pH) and renal tubular necrosis (kidney failure). Buildup of a later metabolite, oxalate, also contributes come renal tubular necrosis and is deposited together crystals in the renal tubules. The an outcome is deadly in a few hours to days.

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Figure 1: Kidney the a be affected by each other that passed away from ethylene glycol (antifreeze) toxicity. Keep in mind the damaged renal tubules containing plenty of bright crystals that shine under polarized light. H&E – polarized light

Careful storage, handling and disposal of antifreeze and switching to antifreeze that includes propylene glycol, i m sorry is much much less toxic, room all means to diminish the risk of antifreeze toxicity in people, pets and also wildlife. The best disposal is recycling. In BC we are fortunate that there are 339 depots across BC that will certainly take your undesirable or offered antifreeze; discover one near you HERE (and throughout Canada HERE).