Can dogs get drunk?
Written by: Dr. Sarah Sims, DVM
Effects of Alcohol on Dogs
The phone rings at the local veterinary emergency room. “Veterinary ER, what is your emergency?” “I’m pretty sure my dog drank vodka. I don’t know how much, but she is really wobbly right now. Is she going to be ok? What should I do?” If you have ever wondered if you could have a beer with your dog (after all, he is Man’s best friend), you are not alone. Hundreds of dogs show up at the ER every year for ethanol intoxication, a fancy way of saying “your dog is drunk.”
Is Alcohol Bad for Dogs?
So how dangerous is getting your dog drunk? It depends. Just like any other toxicity, alcohol poisoning is dosage-dependant. That means the amount consumed per pound of body weight determines how dangerous the effects will be. For instance, if a 5 Lb chihuahua licked a shot of vodka off the floor, he would be in far more danger than if an 80 Lb lab consumed the same amount. The ideal amount of alcohol for a dog to consume is, well, no alcohol. That said, in the real world, accidents happen, and dogs get into things they shouldn’t.
Is Beer Bad for Dogs?
While beer is relatively low in alcohol content (typically 4-8% by volume), in small dogs, it doesn’t take much to cause problems. For instance, a 5 lb dog will begin showing signs of intoxication after drinking 1/10th of a beer. Additionally, hops, an ingredient in some beers, can be extremely dangerous to dogs, leading to a condition known as “malignant hyperthermia,” in which the body heats up uncontrollably. This toxicity has become much more common in recent years, as the popularity of home-brewing has increased.
Is Wine Bad for Dogs?
Wine is also dangerous for dogs to drink. Not only does it contain alcohol, but it is made from grapes, which are potentially very toxic to dogs’ kidneys. It is advisable to keep white wine, red wine, and grapes out of your dogs’ reach at all times.
Can Dogs Get Drunk off Apples?
Dogs can also become intoxicated by eating foods that one does not normally think of as alcoholic. For instance, as fruits decompose, they often go through the process of fermentation, which creates ethanol as a byproduct. This is how some pets become intoxicated from eating fallen apples, compost, or garbage. Another food to watch out for is yeast dough. The method by which yeast cause dough to rise is fermentation of sugar molecules. When a dog eats a large amount of dough, it sits in the stomach and becomes his own personal bartender, secretly serving up ethanol for hours on end.
How much Alcohol Is Life Threatening?
There is currently no agreed-upon recommendation for when you need to rush your pet to the veterinarian after consuming alcohol. Here are the situations in which I recommend you definitely take your dog to the vet right away:
- If your dog is
- If your dog is >50 Lbs and has consumed more than the equivalent of 1 standard alcoholic beverage
- If you notice any of the signs of intoxication listed below
Remember–when in doubt, you can call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline any time of day or night.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning In Dogs
Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause:
- Difficulty breathing
- Central nervous system depression
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Decreased coordination
- Abnormal blood acidity
- Even death
If you notice any of these signs, regardless of how much alcohol has been consumed, call your veterinarian right away.
The good news is, man’s best friend doesn’t need to imbibe to have a good time with you. If you really want to treat him to something special, stick with treats, praise, and play time.
Did we miss anything? Please share your thoughts in the comments.