Beware of glycol - it can poison your dog

Glycol, which is found in coolants and flushing fluids, is a common household item. This is something that is very toxic to your dog, so it is important that you keep liquids containing glycol in a place that your dog cannot get to.

Glycol is life-threatening

Glycol, or ethylene glycol as it is actually called, is found in brake fluid, radiator fluid and flushing fluids, among other things. It has no smell but tastes sweet and can therefore be tempting for dogs to lick it. It is very dangerous for a dog to ingest glycol and even a very small amount can unfortunately be fatal for a dog, often leading to such severe poisoning that the dog can die. A dog can die from as little as 4-7 ml of ethylene glycol per kilogram of body weight.

Glycol is converted in the body into substances that cause kidney damage in the dog and also affect the dog's nervous system and heart. Within a few days of ingestion, the effects of the poisoning can be so severe that the dog cannot survive.

Symptoms of glycol poisoning

If the dog ingests glycol, it can cause acute symptoms such as staggering, vomiting, weakness and convulsions. Increased thirst and urination are another symptom of the kidney damage that occurs. The general condition of a dog can change relatively quickly and they can sometimes give the impression that they are cold or intoxicated during the poisoning. After the first initial stage of poisoning, it is sometimes possible to see an improvement in their dogs, but this often only lasts for a short period before things take a turn for the worse and the dog may have an increased heart rate and difficulty breathing. You may also see coughing, hard heartbeat and convulsions that are sometimes so severe that the dog goes into a coma.

As with many other poisonings in dogs, glycol poisoning is similar to other poisonings in that they have similar symptoms. Therefore, if you suspect glycol poisoning, you should always go straight to the vet for an examination and possible diagnosis. Glycol is absorbed very quickly by the body, so prompt treatment, including drip in dogs, is crucial to a possible recovery. 


If the dog owner does not know that the dog has ingested glycol, establishing a diagnosis can be a little difficult. What can make the vet detect poisoning is calcium oxalate crystals in a urine sample about 6 hours after the poisoning. As the poisoning is in the body, abnormalities can be seen on blood tests regarding kidney values and potassium levels.

Veterinary treatment

If you go to the vet in, max 1-3 hours after the poisoning incident, the dog can be given vomiting medicine. The vet will continue to treat the dog even if it vomits up the medicine. The dog is then given supportive treatment designed to block the enzyme that breaks down the glycol into various toxic substances. This is blocked by administering alcohol via an intravenous drip.

Prevent glycol poisoning

Always place liquids containing glycol in a place in the home that your dog cannot access! Also, be careful and wash away any accidental spills of liquid with glycol. Also, don't let your dog lick the ground when you're in a place where there are vehicles or liquids that may contain glycol, such as a parking garage. 

If you suspect or know that your dog has ingested glycol, always seek veterinary advice immediately. Also, call the veterinary clinic on your way in so that they have time to prepare for your arrival.

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