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Keeping Your Pets Safe from Garage Hazards

Antifreeze, fuel, and battery acid can be extremely fatal for your pet

Posted May 14, 2012 in Dog Toxins & Poisons

Garages contain a ton of chemicals that are dangerous to your furry friends. Some are flammable, others are corrosive, and most are extremely toxic to your dog or cat. While some of these chemicals are found in, around, or dripping from cars, others are used for DIY projects and are commonly stored in garages.

Here’s an overview of the most dangerous chemicals commonly found in garages. If you believe your pet has ingested any of these chemicals, contact your veterinarian immediately.


Antifreeze is extremely dangerous to pets because of its sweet smell and taste—they tend to dive right in and lap it up. Because of this, antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common forms of poisoning in pets.

The toxin in antifreeze is ethylene glycol, a chemical also found in brake fluid. It doesn’t take much of this stuff to cause fatal damage to your pet’s system, and poisoning affects the brain, liver, and kidneys.

If you think your pet has swallowed this stuff, DO NOT induce vomiting unless instructed by your vet or a poison control center professional. Sometimes the chemical can actually cause more damage coming up than going down.  

When it comes to treatment, time is of the essence! Minutes count, and if antifreeze poisoning is caught later than a few hours, there’s a high likelihood of permanent kidney damage that will require lifelong intensive home care, if your pet survives.

For more on antifreeze poisoning in pets, read our more detailed article and watch our interview with Dr. Lee Barteaux.

Petroleum products
Pets have very severe reactions to petroleum products. Clinically, this condition is known as petroleum hydrocarbon toxicosis. That’s a mouthful, but what you really need to know is which products pose a danger to your pet:

  • Gas, diesel, or other fuels
  • Solvents (paint thinner)
  • Lubricants (motor oil)
  • Waxes
  • Some pesticides
  • Some paints

Leaks and spills are the most common reasons pets get exposed to these products, and it doesn’t take much to affect your dogs and cats. Even contact with skin or breathing vapors can be enough to do some damage. If you pet inhales products like turpentine or benzene they can get chemical pneumonitis – a condition in which the chemical coats the lungs, causes inflammation and trouble breathing.

As with antifreeze, if your pet has swallowed a petroleum product, absolutely DO NOT induce vomiting; this could actually cause

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