With the holiday season upon us, you may have glittering snow globes adorning your mantle.
But some people on social media claim the popular holiday decorations could cause harm to your pets if they break.
A post shared more than 60,000 times on Facebook includes a story about two dogs who died after ingesting antifreeze from a broken snow globe.
“I never knew some snow globes contained antifreeze. It only takes a very small amount to poison a cat or dog, and it’s poisonous for us too,” the post reads in part. “The liquid is apparently sweet, so pets will lick it.”
Do some snow globes contain antifreeze?
Yes, some snow globes contain antifreeze. Antifreeze usually contains one of two chemicals: either ethylene glycol or propylene glycol.
Ethylene glycol is extremely dangerous for both pets and humans to swallow. Propylene glycol is much less dangerous to humans, but can still pose a risk to pets.
WHAT WE FOUND
Snow globes aren’t always filled with just water. Some of them, especially ones from overseas, contain a small amount of a chemical called ethylene glycol, the Northern New England Poison Center (NNEPC) wrote in a 2013 post to its website. This can help to keep the water inside from freezing during shipping.
Ethylene glycol is the main chemical used in some types of antifreeze. It’s odorless and colorless, but tastes sweet, which can attract pets to taste it, the ASPCA says.
Ethylene glycol is dangerous for children, pets or anyone to swallow, even in small amounts, the National Capital Poison Center says. The body breaks down the chemical into a number of substances that affect blood chemistry, the nervous system and the kidneys.
Other types of antifreeze contain propylene glycol, which is much less dangerous for humans to swallow than ethylene glycol, experts say.
Propylene glycol is used as a food additive and in some cosmetic products. However, propylene glycol in high amounts can still make your pets sick. Cats are especially sensitive to propylene glycol.
It’s difficult to find out which snow globes contain antifreeze, and how much they contain, since ingredient labels aren’t always included with the products, veterinarian Danika Sorensen, VMD, wrote for PetPlace.com in 2019.
VERIFY did find at least one example online of a snow globe with antifreeze listed as an ingredient. The label did not specify whether the antifreeze contained ethylene glycol or propylene glycol.
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Various animal organizations, including VCA Animal Hospitals and the ASPCA, warn of the potential dangers of pets ingesting antifreeze from snow globes if they break.
“If a snow globe falls off the table, cracks open, and your pet then licks up the contents of the snow globe, there is the risk of poisoning if antifreeze is present,” VCA writes on its website. “It does not take ingesting more than a few laps of ethylene glycol to potentially be fatal to cats and small dogs.”
Antifreeze “can be extremely dangerous to dogs,” leading to kidney damage and even death, according to the United Kingdom Kennel Club. The effects of poisoning may appear quickly, but signs of kidney failure may not show up until several days after ingestion.
Signs of antifreeze poisoning in pets can include vomiting, depression, increased thirst and urination, loss of appetite and seizures, according to the ASPCA.
If a person survives antifreeze poisoning, they may also suffer permanent kidney or brain damage, Poison Control says.
A person may seem drunk or groggy, and complain of stomach distress, a few hours after ingesting antifreeze. The person may then go into a coma several hours later.
Owners who think their pet may have ingested antifreeze should immediately take them to an animal hospital. There are treatments for antifreeze poisoning but they should be started as soon as possible to be most effective, the ASPCA and U.K. Kennel Club say.
If a person thinks they may have ingested antifreeze but aren’t experiencing symptoms of poisoning, they can call Poison Control for advice at 1-800-222-1222. Those who know they have ingested antifreeze and are showing symptoms of poisoning should call 911 right away.