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Poisons
Diagnosis and reporting of antifreeze poisoning
  1. Alice Potter,
  2. James Yeates and
  3. Samantha Gaines
  1. RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS, e-mail: alice.potter@rspca.org

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FOR many years animal welfare charities have warned cat owners about the hazards of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning. In 2014, the RSPCA received around 800 calls reporting incidents of suspected antifreeze poisoning of animals, with the majority relating to cats. Other cat charities deal with similar inquiries. The lethal dose in cats is reported to be around 1 to 1.4 ml/kg of bodyweight. Cats that present for veterinary care late after exposure to ethylene glycol, for example, when ingestion of antifreeze has not been witnessed, are likely to have a poor prognosis.

We know almost nothing about the social and behavioural aetiology of why cats get antifreeze poisoning. How much is deliberate versus accidental? Why are cats attracted to it? For example, previous reports of antifreeze poisoning have resulted in campaigns to improve product labelling and the addition of bittering agents based on the rationale that animals are attracted to antifreeze due to the ‘sweet’ taste of ethylene glycol. However, in fact, cats do …

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