Drivers should be careful about using highly toxic anti-freeze near pets, the PDSA has warned.

Ethylene glycol - often found in screenwash, brake and radiator fluids - is extremely poisonous to animals. 

If ingested, it can cause severe damage to animals’ kidneys and nervous system.  

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Even in tiny amounts it’s often fatal, unless treatment is given extremely quickly.”

The charity is urging motorists to be careful as they prepare their vehicles for the colder months, season and make sure to clean up any spills of these liquids immediately. 

If possible, the charity said people should buy products based on propylene glycol as this is non toxic. 

PDSA treated more than 40 cases of anti-freeze poisoning in 2022 and cats are particularly susceptible to this.

Nina said: “Cats are often outdoors unsupervised, unlike dogs. So although the fluid is equally toxic to both species, anti-freeze toxicity is more frequently seen in cats as owners don’t see them drink it. Sadly, by the time there are any symptoms to see, it can often be too late.”

Pets suffering from anti-freeze toxicity will require intensive care. 

They may need to have their stomach emptied, and may be given fluids and medications to try and stop the effects of the toxin, and flush it from their blood stream. 

The pet’s fur may also need to be washed. Even if pets survive, they often have permanent damage to their kidneys

Signs your pet has swallowed a toxic substance

According to PDSA vets, signs of anti-freeze poisoning in pets can include:

  • Twitchy muscles
  • Twitchy eyes
  • Low energy
  • Vomiting
  • Drinking more than usual
  • Unsteadiness
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Fast, panty breathing

If you spot any of these signs, or you suspect your pet has swallowed antifreeze, contact your vet immediately.