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You have probably seen the Youtube videos of drunk dogs and had a good laugh. A drunk dog is no barking matter. No matter how tempted you are to give your dog just a little taste of your beer – DONT. Most dogs will not turn their nose up to alcohol, but the fact is, it can be very dangerous to ingest. 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.

Just like us humans, when a dog or cat is exposed to alcohol, it causes depression of their central nervous system, slowing them down, so they become drowsy and loses their coordination. If they’re exposed to higher levels of alcohol, it can depress their nervous system to the point that their breathing and heart rate slow down, and their body temperature drops. Their blood chemistry is also altered, leading to a dangerous condition called metabolic acidosis where the blood becomes too acidic. At this point, without treatment, death soon follows usually due to cardiac arrest. Even if a dog or cat doesn’t die from the acute effects of alcohol poisoning, it can be harmful to their kidneys and liver.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning:

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 (which 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

Treatment:

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.

Prevention:

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 and if you are hosting a party, make sure all cups and bottles are out of reach if your pets are part of the festivities, better yet confine them to an area where guests and drinks are inaccessible. Clean up any spills as quickly as possible so it won’t get lapped up off the floor.

Even if you don’t give your pet’s alcoholic drinks and keep them away while hosting a party alcohol can still be found in some surprising places! Such as rum-soaked fruitcake, unbaked dough containing yeast and other fermented foods.

If you think your dog has ingested alcohol, and is sick, make sure to call your vet immediately.