What are the Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs?

Do you know how to recognize antifreeze poisoning in a dog? As a dog owner, it’s important to learn the signs and symptoms of this very dangerous type of poisoning. Although no pet owner wants to think about their dog being poisoned with antifreeze, understanding the symptoms can allow you to respond quickly if this ever does happen to your pet.

In the article below, we’ll walk you through some of the most common symptoms of antifreeze poisoning and help you better understand this risk for your dog.

symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in dogs

Stage 1 Symptoms

Below are the symptoms a dog may experience during the first stage of antifreeze poisoning.


Lethargy is one of the first symptoms that goes along with antifreeze poisoning, and it shows up within the first half-hour after ingestion.

Excessive Thirst and Urination

Dogs may become very thirsty from antifreeze poisoning. They may drink a lot and then, as a result, need to urinate almost constantly. These symptoms are also associated with diabetes in dogs, but they come up suddenly when antifreeze is the cause.

Lack of Coordination

Dogs may suffer from a lack of coordination within the first half-hour of ingestion. This symptom may also sometimes worsen to the point of seizures, depending on the severity of the individual dog’s condition. The dog may stumble, be unable to stand up without assistance, or seem confused about her surroundings even when she is at home. These are all signs that the dog has ingested a toxin that could easily be antifreeze.


Dogs will vomit significantly when they have ingested antifreeze. They may have diarrhea as well, but not always. Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration, which can prove fatal if left untreated.

Stage 2 Dog Antifreeze Poisoning Symptoms

If a dog is showing any of these symptoms, they have now entered the second stage of poisoning.


As the symptoms continue and the poisoning worsens, dogs may suffer from dehydration as a result of urinating and vomiting so much. Dogs who become dehydrated are at a significantly increased risk of death, whether the cause is antifreeze poisoning or anything else.

Increased Heart Rate

The worsening of this serious condition also leads to an increased heart rate. This symptom goes along with dehydration but is also a result of the body trying to fight off the toxicity building up within the dog. You may be able to hear or feel your dog’s increased heart rate if you are able to put your hand on her chest.

Rapid Breathing

Rapid breathing is easily visible in a few ways. If your dog doesn’t usually pant very much, she may start panting significantly when dealing with antifreeze poisoning. You may also see her sides heaving in and out quickly with her rapid breathing.

Lessening of Symptoms

One strange factor of antifreeze poisoning is that the outward symptoms seem to get better about 24 hours after ingestion. This is because the internal symptoms are getting much worse; however, some pet owners may mistake this change for an overall improvement in the dog’s condition. Don’t assume your dog is fine if her symptoms suddenly stop in a day.

Stage 3 Symptoms

Dogs showing any of the symptoms below means that the antifreeze poisoning has reached the final and extremely dangerous stage.

Kidney Pain

The final stages of antifreeze poisoning cause the kidneys to swell significantly. Dogs may be in a lot of pain from their swollen kidneys, and the area may even be painful to the touch. Dogs may become aggressive or fearful because of this pain.

No Urine Production

The swollen kidneys will slow and eventually stop functioning as this poisoning progresses. If your dog is trying to urinate and nothing is coming out, this is a sign that the antifreeze poisoning has reached the final stage and is now at an extremely dangerous and serious level.


In the last few hours of antifreeze poisoning, dogs may suffer from multiple severe seizures. They may also potentially go into a coma, which may mean that the dog will not wake up again. If your dog reaches this point, she unfortunately may not be able to be treated for the poisoning.


Many dogs will die from antifreeze poisoning, especially if it progresses to the third and final stage. It is crucial to take your dog to the emergency vet within the first thirty minutes of antifreeze ingestion, if at all possible, in order to save her life.

Protect your Dog from Antifreeze Poisoning

Remember that many of the signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs also go along with other health conditions and other types of toxicity in pets, too. For this reason, you should always take your dog to the vet or emergency vet if she is exhibiting any of these symptoms, as they could be an indicator of a variety of life-threatening problems.

Always store antifreeze carefully away from the reach of both pets and children. Keep it in a secure, childproof container and, if possible, behind a locked cabinet door as well. The Emergency Veterinary Care Centers are here when you and your pet need us. Contact any of our locations in Highland, Westville or Mishawaka.

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