Dogs and Alcohol – Big No No

Dogs and Alcohol

Dogs and alcohol are not a good combination. While it’s become largely known that alcohol is extremely bad for animals, it should never be considered funny or amusing if a dog has ingested even a small amount of alcohol. Alcohol contains ethanol, which is a toxic substance for dogs and can even be fatal depending on how much the dog consumed. As soon as you realize that your dog has ingested even a small amount of alcohol, you should contact your vet to prevent your dog from getting very ill. Until you’ve spoken with your vet or had the chance to bring your dog in to see them, there are certain symptoms you can watch for, and possibly even treatments you can provide right at home.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs are very similar to those that humans suffer from, but the consequences are much more severe.

Immediately after ingesting the alcohol, your dog may appear confused, and may have trouble walking properly. For the first hour or so, the dog may also be full of energy, to the point of being hyperactive. Vomiting is a possibility, but only for the first two hours after consumption.

Some of the other, and potentially more dangerous, symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs are:

  • Sluggish movements
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Vomiting, even if it’s just acids of the stomach; if the ethanol has burnt the stomach lining, blood may also be seen in the vomit
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive panting, to the point of gasping for air
  • Tender abdomen
  • Excessive thirst, dehydration
  • Problems urinating
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Foaming around the mouth
  • Fainting, passing out, collapsing
  • Coma, which can result in brain damage, or even death

As stated, even if none of these symptoms are present, it’s imperative that you seek veterinary care at the first sign that your dog has ingested alcohol. If you’re waiting to see them, or for them to return your call, there are some things you can do at home.

Treating Dogs With Alcohol Poisoning at Home

Within the first two hours of alcohol consumption, if your dog has not yet vomited, you should try to get them to do so. You can do this simply by giving them a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide (3%), diluting it with water or even a bit of vanilla ice cream if necessary. While walking is typically recommended after giving a dog peroxide to induce vomiting, this is not recommended if it’s dangerous to do so, such as when your dog is having problems walking due to alcohol consumption. If your dog will not take the dose by a spoon, use a syringe to make sure that they consume it.

If after 15 minutes of administering the peroxide the dog has not yet vomited, administer another teaspoon and once again if the dog is able, have them walk or move around a little bit. If vomiting has still not been induced at that time, do not give them any more peroxide as too much can be harmful to them as well.

While you’re waiting for veterinary care, also make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water, and that they drink as much of it as possible. This will not only help keep them hydrated, it can also help dilute and flush out some of the ethanol in their system.

What Will Happen at The Vet?

While most dog owners know that they need to get their pet to the vet after they’ve ingested alcohol, they have some reservations about doing so, feeling guilty for causing the situation in the first place. Truthfully, there’s no reason to carry around this guilt or stress. Just like anything else in life, things happen.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning in DogsDrinks get spilled, animals get into bottles that have been left in the garbage or recycling, and other unexpected situations occur that can end in bad situations. Know that you and the vet are both there to just help your dog get better, and that there’s no judgement involved.

Once the vet is able to examine your dog, they will first run an ethanol concentration test in order to determine just how much alcohol and ethanol is in their system. This will give the vet a better idea of what form of treatment is necessary. If the amount of ethanol is considered manageable, the vet may just orally administer a small amount of activated charcoal.

This can help in two different ways: it will absorb the ethanol, or it will wash out the stomach. If the dog’s system has higher levels of ethanol and the poisoning is considered to be severe, the vet may recommend administering fluids intravenously to help with dehydration and to speed along the recovery.

Prevent Alcohol Poisoning

Before you have to deal with the severe consequences of your dog consuming alcohol, take the necessary steps to preventing them from doing so in the first place.

Remember to always put bottles away in an area that cannot be reached by your dog. While many dog owners place their recycling and garbage in an area their dog can’t get at, remember to put unopened bottles, or bottles currently being used, out of reach of your dog, too. Even if bottles are not opened, there’s always a chance that they could break open if they’re glass, giving your dog an opportunity to come over and start drinking it.

Also remember to clean up any spills fully and quickly so that your dog doesn’t have the chance to go over to it and lap it up.

In addition to just the beer and wine bottles you’ve brought into the house, remember that alcohol can be found in other household items, as well. Some of the most common of these are mouthwash, aftershaves, perfumes, and rubbing alcohol. Always make sure that these are also put away in a secure place where your dog cannot reach them.

Always remember that dogs and alcohol just don’t mix and that even just a small amount can end in potentially tragic results. Keep your dog away from alcohol at all times, know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs so you can look for them, and also familiarize yourself with the treatment options you can perform right away to give your pet the help they need. It could make a world of difference for both of you.

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