Prevent pet from drinking windshield washer fluid
Q: While adding windshield washer fluid to my car’s reservoir, I spilled some on the floor and my dog started licking it off. I drank the liquid before it was just a taste, but then I wondered: is windshield washer fluid actually toxic to dogs?
A: Yes. Most windshield washer fluids contain around 20-30% methanol, which is toxic to dogs, cats, humans and other animals. Some windshield washer fluids are 100% methanol, and others contain other toxic antifreezes, such as ethylene glycol.
Methanol, sometimes called wood alcohol, is colorless and flammable, and has been described as having a slightly sweet alcohol odor. It is also found in some cleaners, solvents, paint strippers, varnishes, gasolines, “canned” fuels, model aircraft fuels, and fuel line antifreeze.
Within 30 to 60 minutes of ingesting methanol, dogs experience lethargy, loss of coordination, disorientation, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The heart and lungs can also be affected. Humans, but not dogs or cats, can also suffer from blindness.
Methanol is even toxic when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. As with other poisons, the dose determines the severity of clinical signs.
Sometimes methanol is deadly, but if help is immediate, the animal’s life can often be saved.
To avoid accidental poisoning, confine your dog inside your home each time you refill your washer fluid reservoir, store the plastic container where he can’t chew on it, and clean up any spills immediately.
Q: Frankie, my 15 year old cat, is losing weight. What could be causing this?
A: Weight loss is common in older cats and can even occur in the absence of disease.
A cat’s caloric needs decrease by 3% each year until around 11 years of age. After that, older cats digest protein and fat less efficiently, so they need to ingest more calories just to maintain their weight.
Unfortunately, their senses of smell and taste dull with age, so some cats become less enthusiastic eaters in their later years.
You can help by reheating any refrigerated canned food to enhance its flavor. Provide extra meals for Frankie and place several food bowls with a variety of dry foods in easily accessible places. Consider treating him with kitten food or another high-calorie, easily digestible diet high in protein and fat.
If Frankie is still eating less than usual, he may have dental pain that makes chewing uncomfortable. Or, he may have arthritis pain that deters him from walking any distance to his food bowl or jumping if his bowl is on a counter. Your veterinarian can help you with dental issues and arthritis pain.
On the other hand, if Frankie is eating well but losing weight, he may have diabetes or an overactive thyroid gland which is causing his metabolism to run rampant. Both of these conditions are common causes of weight loss in older cats, and both are easily treated.
Chronic kidney disease, liver dysfunction, and cancer also lead to weight loss. Have your vet examine Frankie and do some lab work to determine what is causing him to lose weight.