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You may know a dog owner who shares a beer with their pet from time to time without any noticeable negative effects—and some dogs love the taste of beer. But can dogs drink beer?
Alcohol can be highly dangerous for dogs, even in limited amounts. Dogs can and do suffer from alcohol poisoning, and experience the same negative effects as humans from ethanol at much lower doses.
If you catch your dog happily slurping up a puddle of beer from an overturned pint glass, and notice any of the worrisome symptoms detailed below, call your vet immediately.
Your dog may need IV treatment, rehydration measures, and close monitoring to stop their ethanol poisoning from progressing.
Dogs Can’t Drink Beer? But My Dog Loves It!
A dog’s liver isn’t designed to process alcohol. And, just like humans, dogs can suffer from alcohol poisoning or toxicity.
So when it comes to your best friend, you may share the couch to watch a favorite TV show and take them on your brewery visits, but definitely abstain from sharing your favorite beer.
Higher Alcohol Content Means Higher Danger
Though a good beer may seem to pleasantly intoxicate dogs just like humans, think of your dog as the ultimate “lightweight.” They may experience intoxication much faster than any human you know, and that intoxication could make them fearful or even aggressive.
An important consideration, if your dog has found their way into your favorite microbrew, is the beer’s alcohol content.
If your dog accidentally drinks beer with a higher alcohol content, then your dog is much more likely to experience the negative effects of alcohol consumption.
Again, look out for the symptoms of ethanol poisoning (see below), and talk to your vet.
Surprising Sources of Potential Danger
Dogs can experience alcohol poisoning from other sources aside from beer and the usual alcoholic beverages such as wine and liquors.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, “When pets ingest rising bread dough, alcohol from the fermenting yeast in the dough is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can result in alcohol poisoning.”
Foods and desserts that include alcohol can also be a danger to you dog, so be sure to keep more than just beer out of your dog’s reach.
Note the Danger of Hops to Dogs
Another thing to keep in mind: the hops used in beer are themselves highly dangerous to dogs. The main symptom is malignant hyperthermia: a persistent rise in body temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
While hops seem to affect some breeds more than others, there is no safe amount of hops for a dog to consume. Most studies are focused on whole hops, both fresh and dried, though some beers, such as IPAs, do have a higher hop content than other beers.
If your dog has gotten into either your homebrew kit, you have missing hops in your garden, or you think your dog has consumed either dry or fresh hops, it’s time to call your vet.
If your dog has helped themselves to your IPA and you’re concerned, it’s a good idea to contact your vet and watch out for these possible warning signs:
- Rapid breathing and/or heart rate
- An increase in body temperature (105°F/40.6°C)
- Abnormal clotting
In our post on the subject, we talk more about hops and their mysterious toxic effect on dogs.
Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs: Signs and Symptoms
The experts at PetMD advise that if your dog is only exhibiting mild symptoms and you’re confident they didn’t ingest too much beer, letting them “sleep it off” may be fine.
However, keep your eye on your dog and consult with your vet if you see symptoms progress or are unsure how much alcohol your dog has consumed.
Some early symptoms of alcohol ingestion in your dog can include:
- Stumbling/Loss of coordination
Alcohol poisoning, or ethanol toxicity, can quickly turn dangerous. If your dog ingests more alcohol than their system can process, they may react much like a human that has over-imbibed.
Beyond those early symptoms, a dog’s system responds in undetectable ways to alcohol consumption, including drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and body temperature.
Serious alcohol poisoning symptoms include:
- Extremely slow and shallow breathing
- Muscle Tremors
- Decrease in body temperature
- Slowed heart rate
- Loss of consciousness/fainting
If your dog shows these symptoms, or if you suspect they’ve gotten more than a few sips of beer, they should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.
Ethanol toxicity can be treated through IV fluids and medication. Without treatment, in severe cases, ethanol toxicity can cause organ failure or be fatal.
Prevention of Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs
- Mind your beer: Keep an eye on your beverage and keep it out of your dog’s reach.
- Stay on top of spills: It’s nice to have a dog around to clean up after you in the kitchen, particularly for messy cooks and young kids. But when it comes to spills of beer or other food and drink containing alcohol, clean up immediately and keep your dog away.
- Be safe at parties: Don’t hesitate to ask your guests to refrain from offering your dog a sip or two of beer. Some people assume there’s no harm in a little beer for a dog, but your dog will thank you for watching out for their health.
- Store safe: Just as you do with food, assure beer and other items containing alcohol are stored out of your dog’s reach.
Beer Alternatives Your Dog Can Enjoy
Okay, so you love beer almost as much as you love your dog. And you want to share a cold beverage with your best (canine) friend. Since dogs can’t drink beer, what’s a brew-loving dog parent to do?
Thankfully, there are commercial dog beers available for sale. That’s right. You can buy pretend beer for dogs as a special treat.
Whether for a birthday celebration or just a cold beverage on a hot day, there’s a beer alternative for your dog!
Crafted from all-natural ingredients, BarkBrew can be enjoyed straight from the bottle.
Pour it into your dog’s bowl, cover their dry kibble with it, or even freeze it for a fun summer treat.
Flavored with malt and beef, this canine brew also contains glucosamine for joint health, is non-carbonated, and of course, contains no alcohol.Buy Now on Amazon
A big name in the dog beer business, Bowser Beer comes in three flavors: chicken, beef, and pork. Their dog beer doesn’t contain hops or carbonation, both of which aren’t great for your dog.
Not only are the labels fun and the names hilarious, but these dog beers also contain barley malt and glucosamine.Buy Now on Amazon
Created from upcycled malted barley sourced from local San Diego craft breweries, these fun beer-themed dog treats are made from only four ingredients: malted barley, peanut butter, eggs, and barley flour.
Perfect for pups on a reduced ingredient diet that love that brewery taste. (You can also make your own at home.)Buy Now on Amazon
If you have the most interesting dog in the world, this novelty plush squeak toy by Dog Digging Designs is for them.
Perfect for a quirky photo op, or kicking back for some evening zoomies.Buy Now on Amazon
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