Dangers of Alcohol Poisoning: Drunk Dogs are No Laughing Matter

What to do if your dog is drunk?
My Dog Is Hung Over

Can my dog drink beer? We’re sure you’ve probably seen or heard how comical a drunk dog can be. Shoot, you might have even been tempted to give your dog just a little taste of your beer just to see it for yourself. Most dogs will not turn their nose up to alcohol, but the fact is, it can be very dangerous for dogs to drink alcohol. A dog’s body is not able to process the ethanol in alcoholic beverages, so it’s important that you never give your dog alcohol on purpose, and should it happen accidentally, you should seek veterinary help immediately.

Alcohol poisoning in dogs is not uncommon, whether on purpose or accidental. Many cases are seen each year where a dog will drink alcoholic beverages out of cups and bottles left unattended. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs vary depending on the size of the dog and the amount of ethanol in the beverage. Complications also vary depending on how much the animal ingests. Here’s what to look for and how to treat alcohol poisoning in your pet.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs

It can take several hours after ingestion for symptoms of poisoning to occur. Even if your dog appears fine at first, watch for these signs and contact a vet immediately if you notice them:

  • Slow or uncoordinated movements or weakness
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting — it may contain blood if the dog has ingested a large amount of alcohol and it burns through the stomach lining
  • Panting or difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Painful abdominal area
  • Dehydration or excessive water drinking
  • Problems urinating
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Coma

It’s vital that you seek veterinary care as soon as you notice any of these symptoms after your dog drank alcohol to prevent further damage or death.

How alcohol poisoning is treated in dogs

Alcohol poisoning in dogs is treated in much the same way as any other toxic substance. The vet will run tests to determine the amount of ethanol in the dog’s bloodstream and then give activated charcoal to absorb as much of the alcohol as possible before it enters the bloodstream. The vet may also pump or flush the stomach to remove the toxic substance. Alcohol consumption causes quick and severe dehydration, so the vet will also administer fluids through IV to speed recovery.

Preventing alcohol poisoning is key

The best way to avoid the dangers of alcohol poisoning in your pet is to prevent your dog from consuming it in the first place. Never give it on purpose. Also, if you’re hosting a party, make sure all cups and bottles are out of reach of your dog if he or she is part of the festivities, or confine your dog to an area where guests and drinks are inaccessible. Clean up any spills as quickly as possible so your dog can’t lap the drink off the floor.

For more on how to protect your dog from any kind of poisoning please see 20 Common Household Items That Can Kill Your Dog

 Photo credit: Thinkstock

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