I know what you’re thinking. BBQs are about to get heavy this summer and somebody is going to slip the dog some beer. I get asked a lot about what dogs can eat and drink. Goodness knows I have an adventurous palate – especially if I can sneak some bacon from my dad’s breakfast plate. But even though dogs are not supposed to eat a lot of human food, we absolutely should never, ever drink alcohol.
Why? Well, first of all, most of us are a lot smaller than humans, so it doesn’t take very much for us to get alcohol poisoning. You probably know that alcohol poisoning is serious, and sometimes deadly for humans. It’s the same for us dogs, only it takes a lot less.
Aside from the amount, some alcohol, like wine, has additional ingredients that are bad for dogs, like grapes. We dogs can’t eat grapes. I’m not quite sure why, but grapes can give dogs kidney failure, so wine or any alcohol made with grapes is especially toxic.
Plus, we just aren’t built for alcohol consumption. Our dog systems process things much differently than your human systems. That’s why we can eat poop without getting sick. Not that we dogs expect you to want to eat poop, but we are designed differently. Our liver and kidneys don’t have the ability to filter alcohol like yours can.
Sometimes, though, despite your best efforts, we get into food that we aren’t supposed to have. I have a friend that ate a sock once and had to have surgery to get the sock removed, but that’s another story. Although it bears noting that until you are sure your puppy isn’t going to eat socks or other non-food items, it is best to keep a watchful eye on them and give them a doggy-safe area to play.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs
Anyway, sometimes we get into things we aren’t supposed to. Dogs are curious beings, and we like to explore. If we do happen to drink alcohol, you should watch out for these signs of alcohol poisoning.
- Uncoordinated walking or staggering
- Trouble with bladder control
- Stomach pain
- Excessive drooling
If you notice these symptoms in your dog, call your vet immediately. If your dog has ingested alcohol and does not get treatment soon enough, he or she could end up with brain damage or liver damage, suffer a heart attack, or even die.
Incidentally, it can sometimes take an hour or two for dogs to present symptoms of alcohol poisoning, so if you know your dog drank alcohol, even if you don’t see these symptoms, you should still call your vet.
I should also probably mention that we dogs can get alcohol poisoning from places other than beer, wine, or cocktails. Things like cough syrup or cleaning fluids that contain alcohol are also poisonous to us. Also, believe it or not, rotten apples and some bread dough that gives off ethanol is also a no no.
Of course, keeping alcohol away from us is the best way to prevent the problem. We love you and depend on you to keep us safe, but accidents happen. That’s why it’s good to be aware of what to expect if your four-legged family member does get into something he or she isn’t supposed to.
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