Ethylene glycol (EG) is a major constituent of antifreeze and toxic doses in the cat are as little as 1.5mL/kg and 4-6 mL/kg in the dog.  Treatment includes the antidote 4-MP or ethanol, and must be initiated promptly to ensure survival. In dogs, therapy must begin within 8-12 hours, while for cats, it must begin within 3 hours.

In an attempt to minimize both human and animal ingestion of ethylene glycol, a federal bill designed to force antifreeze makers to add a bittering agent to their products is once again before the U.S. Congress, despite the fact lawmakers previously failed to consider two nearly identical measures.

Many states have already adopted this: California has required the addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze since 2002 and Oregon since 1991. Since 2005, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have passed legislation requiring the addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze.

The question remains, how will this affect the number of patients we see with ethylene glycol toxicosis. While this bittering agent may minimize ingestion in cats (due to their discriminating palate), it’s likely going to be less effective in dogs (after all, they eat their own feces, right)?

If you live in any  of the states where this law was adopted, are you seeing less cases?

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