To help protect pets, wildlife and children, Environment Minister Barry Penner announced April 1, 2009 a new regulation that requires the addition of a bittering agent to all antifreeze sold at the consumer level in British Columbia. The first of its kind in Canada, the new regulation took effect in 2011.
It is hoped that the addition of a bittering agent to highly toxic ethylene glycol antifreeze will make antifreeze less appealing than the current sweet-tasting product. While the BC SPCA acknowledges this is a step in the right direction that will undoubtedly save lives, consumers should still be encouraged use less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze. Propylene glycol antifreeze is slightly more expensive but is non-toxic to pets and wildlife.
All cars, trucks, buses and farm tractors use antifreeze to help prevent their engines from freezing over in the winter and overheating in the summer.
Antifreeze is the yellow-green liquid that is poured into radiators and circulates through engines to keep them operating at safe temperatures. Conventional antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is very poisonous - to people and animals. A single teaspoon will kill a cat and a tablespoonful will kill a 10-pound dog. Thousands of animals (pets and wildlife) die each year from antifreeze poisoning. Antifreeze leaks from automobiles and is spilled in garages and onto pavement due to careless fluid changes. In other instances antifreeze has been used to deliberately poison animals as an act of cruelty.
Many animals like the sweet taste of antifreeze and will readily consume it when given the opportunity. However, antifreeze, even in the smallest amounts, can have a very harmful and often fatal effect on your pet. Most animal ingestions take place in the fall, winter and early spring, the seasons when antifreeze is most frequently used. As many as 88 per cent of animal encounters with the toxin will end in fatality.
If pet owners suspect their animal has ingested antifreeze they must seek veterinary aid for their animal. YOUR PET WILL NOT RECOVER ON HIS OR HER OWN. Time is critical as within minutes your pet will begin to experience kidney damage. Read more about the what to do if you think your pet has ingested antifreeze.
Use animal-friendly antifreeze
Fortunately, there is a less toxic alternative to the ethylene glycol-based antifreeze that is most commonly used. Pet-friendly antifreeze is propylene glycol-based and is now available at some retail outlets or through your local automotive centre. If your mechanic isn't using pet-safe antifreeze ask them to special order it for you. It may cost a few dollars more but it could save animals' lives. You can download our campaign poster and provide it to others to explain why they should make the switch.
Animal-friendly antifreeze has anti-corrosive properties, is biodegradable and is recyclable, making propylene-based antifreeze a better choice for the safety of pets and wildlife, personal health, vehicle engine protection and the environment. Make the switch today!
Pet- and wildlife-friendly antifreeze is available in 85 Lordco locations throughout the province. Uni-Select Automotive also offers these products in 700 nationwide locations and supplies them to more than 2,000 automotive centres.
Customers can request propylene glycol antifreeze from their automotive service centre or purchase it separately and ask that their auto centre install the product.
What can you do to help?
Download our poster today and help spread the word! (pdf 356KB)
Mop up spills and dispose of antifreeze properly.
Take used ethylene glycol or propylene glycol antifreeze to an auto centre that recycles antifreeze.
British Columbia has a network of approximately 500 return collection facilities that accept used antifreeze (common ethylene glycol and propylene glycol), oil, oil filters and oil and antifreeze containers at no charge. Visit the B.C. Used Oil Management Association website to find a location near you or contact the Recycling Council of B.C. at 1-800-667-4321 for a list of outlets.
Never pour any used antifreeze (ethylene glycol or propylene glycol) down storm drains, sinks, toilets or on the ground.