Antifreeze poisons dogs in Soldotna neighborhood

Posted: Monday, February 03, 2003

KENAI (AP) -- A recent spate of dogs poisonings in a Soldotna neighborhood has pet owners wondering whether someone is intentionally trying to harm dogs.

The dogs have been suffering from ethylene glycol toxicity -- antifreeze poisoning. Coolant used in car radiators is sweet to a dog's palate but deadly.

''It knocks out their kidneys,'' said Dr. Tabitha Perkovich, a veterinarian at Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic. ''Unfortunately, if we don't see them within the first 12 to 24 hours, it's often fatal.''

Michelle Eckerman's dog clung to life for more than 30 days before having to be euthanized.

''He quit eating and drinking, even human food, and started throwing up bile,'' Eckerman said of Bo, her 3-year-old husky mix.

''He lost 25 pounds in a month,'' Eckerman said.

''Initially we thought he was grieving for another dog we had to put down, but after the results came back, the vet said he was in complete kidney failure and his stomach lining was gone. They said it was from antifreeze, and that Bo was the fourth dog that week from our neighborhood.''

Perkovich said the situation is suspicious.

She has seen six to seven dogs poisoned by antifreeze and two more possible candidates. The number of cases involving ethylene glycol toxicity is much higher this year than in past years.

''For that many dogs in one vicinity, there's either a chronically leaking vehicle or someone is doing it intentionally,'' Perkovich said.

Signs of poisoning may include vomiting, staggering, loss of balance, dilated pupils, loss of appetite or lethargy. Any animal exhibiting these signs should see a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

There are newer forms of antifreeze made of polypropylene glycol, and although safer if consumed by a pet due to a slower rate of effect, they're still toxic.

However, prevention is the best medicine, according to Perkovich. It's best to walk dogs on a leash so they can be attended, she said, and not to let them run loose.

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