Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals

Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to AnimalsIs RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals…  If you love exploring new adventures in your RV and carry an insatiable love for pets, then you must wonder, Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals?

Being an RV owner, you must know how detailed it is to maintain every part of an RV properly. Among the many challenges in maintaining your RV is the worry of protecting the plumbing, especially during winters.

For this purpose, RV owners subsequently go for the idea of using a standard antifreeze. But, while addressing this primary issue, RV owners often ignore the chances of adverse effects an antifreeze could have on their animals. 

However, not all animals are affected by antifreeze, and not every antifreeze could harm all kinds of animals. Therefore, it is essential to know the details before taking the precautionary measures into account;


What is RV Antifreeze?

Before we get into the debate of choosing the right antifreeze for your RV and what implications it could have on the animals’ health, let’s first understand the purpose and importance of it…

During the winter season, due to a significant drop in Fahrenheit, water expands dramatically, thus, causing the pipes to burst. And, we all know that a water-system burst comes with a lot of damage, consequently costing you substantial amounts of money in repairs.  

To avoid such misery, people use suitable antifreeze agents for their RVs. This can prevent their water systems from bursting and offer them the safety of a temperature drop to as low as -50 °F. This essential substance ensures that your RV water system remains intact even during harsh winter.


How to Choose RV Antifreeze

There are hundreds of varieties and brands to choose from regarding RV antifreeze. However, there’re a few principle features to consider while opting for the correct RV antifreeze.

Burst Protection

An antifreeze that offers water-system burst protection at temperatures as low as -50°F mark must be preferred. 


Today, when our planet is already facing a grave environmental crisis regarding global warming, deforestation, and all sorts of pollutants, it is vital to show responsibility and use environmentally safe chemicals. Therefore, the antifreeze agent we choose must be safe for our kids, animals, and the ecosystem.


Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals – Let’s Find Out! 

A typical RV antifreeze constitutes of the following chemical substances;

  1. Ethyl Alcohol or Ethanol 
  2. Propylene Glycol or 
  3. A Blend of Ethanol and Propylene

To know whether the antifreeze you are using in your RV has the element of toxicity in it, you must be aware of the properties of these substances.



Ethyl alcohol (or Ethanol) is commonly found in several modern-day consumer products such as solvents, disinfectants, and even fuels. Although the risk factor involved in ingestion is scarce, the probability of poisoning due to skin contact or inhalation of ethyl alcohol in vapor form cannot be neglected.

Therefore, it is crucial to figure out the risks from its inhalation and know the appropriate symptoms and first aid measures in the situation of an emergency.

The most common signs of toxicity caused by Ethanol in animals are vomiting, ataxia, and recumbency.

The primary reason for this is that alcohol can directly cause inflammation in the stomach, resulting in vomiting. Also, if the animal is exposed to Ethanol for extended periods, it could stimulate emesis. Moreover, high concentrations of ethyl alcohol can cause a slow muscle response that can further paralyze the animal if not treated timely. 


Propylene Glycol 

If you’re an RV owner, you might have heard about propylene glycol, a ‘pet-friendly antifreeze.’ But, recent incidents of animal intoxication have surfaced in which propylene glycol was the primary substance.

However, many pet specialists still declare propylene glycol as the least reactive for pets and that the harmful properties of propylene glycol may vary from one animal to another. 

The common symptoms that animals exhibit if intoxicated with propylene glycol are; sedation, walking drunk (ataxia), lethargy, panting, or even severe seizures.

Veterinary experts say cats are most sensitive to propylene glycol, among other animals. Therefore, in most countries, it is also prohibited to use propylene glycol in cats’ foods.

In dogs, propylene glycol can cause nervous system depression or lactic acidosis if exposed for longer. However, a small routine amount of propylene glycol is not harmful to dogs and is allowed to be used in dogs’ foods.


Is Propylene Glycol RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals?

The use of propylene glycol is debated widely by many veterinary experts. However, it is a mutually agreed research that propylene glycol can only harm animals if ingested or inhaled in large quantities. A worst-case scenario could be, ‘your pet drank an antifreeze agent.’ 

Therefore, it is highly recommended to keep your animals away while draining out the antifreeze agents of your RV.

Keep in mind that propylene glycol, if consumed in large amounts, can lead to dangerous poisoning and further health complications, especially for cats.

To know if RV antifreeze is toxic to animals, as a rule of thumb, you can remember that the smaller the pet, the higher the chances of poisoning from an antifreeze. However, we might not be aware, but more prominent species can be sensitive to it as the research on propylene glycol reaction in various animals is limited. 


Emergency First Aid

If, at any instance, you find your pet suffering from the symptoms of antifreeze toxicity, seek immediate veterinary assistance.

An instant activated charcoal dose to your pet could frequently absorb the toxicity of the antifreeze within its system. Also, it is recommended to induce vomiting in your pet to flush out the toxic liquid and reduce poisoning.

Make sure you take a specimen of the liquid to the vet so that it can assist the veterinarian in finding the most suitable antidote promptly.

Keep the animals away from the place of contact because inhalation can also cause poisoning and other complications.

You can call the ASPCA only if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic. the ASPCA’s national poison control number is (888) 426-4435

If your pet is showing any of the signs below, transport your animal to the nearest Vet or animal hospital as quickly as possible.



In addition to using activated charcoal and inducing vomiting, a veterinarian will use a catheter to initiate intravenous fluids. Further treatment will depend on the toxicity levels left within the animal’s system.


Animal-Friendly Non-toxic Propylene Glycol Antifreeze?

It is recommended to avoid ethylene glycol antifreeze and go for safer alternatives such as propylene glycol, which is also less attractive for the animals in terms of taste and smell. 

However, until today we don’t have an entirely nontoxic antifreeze, but Propylene glycol can be a suitable replacement due to its considerably less toxic properties than ethyl alcohol. Unlike Ethyl alcohol, propylene is found only to affect the central nervous system (if ingested in high quantity) but not the kidneys.

Moreover, with its anti-corrosive properties, propylene is also biodegradable and is considered a much better choice for the environment and pets friendly antifreeze agents. Also, propylene offers excellent burst protection for the vehicle and can sustain for a more extended time.



Regular Antifreeze Vs RV Antifreeze

One of the common mistakes people generally commit is considering a conventional antifreeze as an RV antifreeze. However, this assumption is usually incorrect as there are some significant features and formula differences between the two. 

Usually, the formula of a regular antifreeze constitutes toxic substances and is mainly used in closed-loop systems. But, regarding RV type, the antifreeze should be nontoxic in properties and offer protection for RV systems at temperatures as low as -50 degrees.

Another critical factor is that the antifreeze often gets pumped or flushed out of the pipes in an RV. In comparison, a conventional antifreeze remains in the system at all times. Therefore, it is essential always to have the correct understanding between a traditional and RV antifreeze to avoid any potential risk.



After getting to know all the crucial aspects of an RV antifreeze, you should now have no doubts about deciding the most suitable antifreeze for your RV. With this research-based information, choosing the perfect antifreeze option for your RV would be easier quickly and efficiently. 

Once you have settled on the right combination, freezing pipes should no longer be something to encounter in the future. The right RV antifreeze ensures that your RV system survives through the harshest winters without harming the ecosystem or any creatures with its chemical properties.

However, if you still face problems finding the perfect nontoxic antifreeze for your RV, please feel free to join the discussion in the comments section. We will try our best to help you with the right solution instantly and effectively. We aim to make your RV adventure ready for the next season. 😉


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