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As daylight shortens and the weather turns chilly, new dangers emerge for our patients. To help keep pets safe, let’s inform clients about the worry-worthy topic of ethylene glycol poisoning. This seasonal video, explaining the dangers of ethylene glycol, aims to reduce the risk by educating the public regarding prevention.

How will the video help?

We in practice are all too aware of the dangers of ethylene glycol, but clients may not be. Getting the preventative healthcare message to our clients is one of the hardest tasks we face. Waiting room TV can help – those visiting our practices for other reasons can be told of the dangers of ethylene glycol. The video contains practical guidance for avoiding accidents at home.

Our video gives your clients an essential summary, helping them avoid ethylene glycol exposure in their pets, and asking them to act quickly if they suspect ingestion has occurred.

Boost awareness of the risk

Pet parents may not realise how sweet this poison tastes to our cats and dogs – they may assume their fussy feline won’t go near it. The video makes the palatability and potency of ethylene glycol very clear.

Many parents are worried about paying for a consultation if they don’t have to – they may wait to see if clinical signs persist or change. Whilst this is completely understandable, it might risk their pet’s life if ethylene glycol poisoning is a possibility. Our video can help emphasise the extreme danger of delaying veterinary care in these cases.

There’s a delicate line to tread – not every lethargic, vomiting cat has been poisoned. Increasing awareness will hopefully reassure as much as warn, and mean the right cases get seen.

The history – it’s not just antifreeze

Identifying ethylene glycol cases can be challenging for us as clinicians. Ingestion is rarely witnessed so early clinical signs, like tachycardia and vomiting, may be absent at presentation.

When identifying cases of ethylene glycol poisoning, history is crucial. With your clients having watched our video, hopefully, they will be able to tell you of their concerns.

It’s tricky with cats, but a dog may have been for a walk shortly before the onset of clinical signs and may have walked near parked cars or open garages. However, it is important to note that ethylene glycol is found in a range of fluids – not just antifreeze. As our video highlights, it can appear in brake fluids, windscreen washes and non-car-related products too – some pond treatments and paints also contain the ingredient.

Ethylene glycol is not merely an outside danger. Snow globes (a Christmas stocking favourite – oft broken!) and developing solutions in photography can also contain the substance – so don’t rule out the indoor cat whose favourite chair is in the at-home darkroom!

What to look (and listen) for

With vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, seizures, and difficulty breathing highlighted as clinical signs to look out for, clients should come to you promptly with potential cases. As always, and especially at these busy times, any staff triaging calls need to be aware of ‘red flag’ keywords that may be reported by clients. Potential cases must be seen straight away. ‘Came in acting drunk’, ‘was fine when he went out an hour ago’, ‘suddenly being sick and twitching’, and ‘drinking obsessively’ are all possibilities.

A useful way to keep everyone informed is to share the video with the practice team. That way, staff know what clients know, and a more consistent approach is possible.

Sadly, many cases present further down the line, with dehydration and significant renal compromise. At least we may bring treatment forward for a few cases if we increase awareness, and a waiting room video is a great way to do that.

If you’d like this video on your playlist, login to your account and search for ‘Antifreeze’.