Bittering Agent Not Preventing Dogs From Ingesting Antifreeze

February 26, 2015

Almost two years ago we wrote with excitement that a bittering agent was being added to antifreeze to protect dogs (and kids too) who were being poisoned by drinking the previously sweet product. We, and we suspect many others, hoped and thought that by making antifreeze less tasty we would see a decrease in the number of dogs poisoned.

Unfortunately, as reported in Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s newsletter Dogwatch, this is not the case. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports that it had 305 calls about dogs ingesting antifreeze in both 2012 and 2013 but that number rose in 2014 to 328. This may not be a huge increase (about 7%) but it is significant when everyone thought the number would actually decrease in 2014. So what’s going on?

According to Dr. Wismer of Cornell, the reason is that dogs are “gulpers and do not take the time to taste things first.” So much to the dismay of pet parents, adding the bittering agent to ethylene glycol (the active ingredient in most antifreeze) isn’t solving the poisoning problem. While some manufacturers are switching to propylene glycol, which is somewhat safer but still toxic, for the time being the best course of action for pet parents remains safe handling and quick clean ups.

Thanks for reading!

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