DOGS AND DRINKING DON’T MIX
Most of us enjoy an alcoholic drink now and again, and we all
know about the effects of alcohol on ourselves. However, the
effects on our dogs can be more significant, due to their lower
Alcohol poisoning occurs if a dog drinks between 5 and 8 ml
of alcohol per kilo bodyweight. That’s not ml of whiskey or
wine, it’s ml of alcohol. We’ll need to do some mathematics
here. Whiskey may contain up to 70% alcohol, which means that
in a 30ml “nip”, there’s 21 ml of actual alcohol. That’s more
than enough to cause severe poisoning in a 3-4 kg Chihuahua.
Wine contains around 10% alcohol and beer around 5%
Dogs may not voluntarily drink straight spirits, but they may
lap them if they’re mixed with soda, however the creamy
liqueurs available today would be very palatable to a dog.
A less common cause of alcohol poisoning is bread dough. If
a dog eats bread dough, fermentation in the gastrointestinal
tract results in the formation of an alcohol. In January 2008,
a 40kg Labrador Retriever was hospitalized in Austria with
vomiting and staggering, and smelling like a brewery. His blood
alcohol level was 1.6mg per 100ml. He hadn’t raided his owner’s
bar fridge; he had eaten half a kilogram of fresh yeast dough.
The dough had had fermented in his stomach, producing alcohol
and resulting in symptoms of poisoning.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning are quite vague, as they can
be characteristic of a number of illnesses, however your dog
will possibly smell like alcohol. Symptoms develop within an
hour, depending on how much food is in the stomach, and aren’t
too different to those of a drunk person - wobbly on the feet,
sluggish responses, and either excitement or depression. Your
dog can remain in this condition for a day or two. However, if
your pet has drunk enough, this develops into slow breathing,
possibly coma and cardiac arrest, or heart attack.
Treatment is supportive and non specific - activated
charcoal can prevent absorption of more alcohol, and an
intravenous drip rehydrates your dog and encourages the
metabolism and excretion of the alcohol. If your dog is treated
early, the outcome is usually good.
This is a totally avoidable illness in dogs. Keep your
alcoholic drinks out of reach of your dog, and don’t give your
dog alcohol for fun. If you enjoy making breads and doughs,
keep your dog out of the kitchen.