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Remember back in high school when you’d have a few drinks at a party, arrive home, and try to sneak to your room without your mom noticing? Yeah, uh…me neither. No matter how much I was convinced that I was tricking my parents at the time, I’m pretty sure they knew exactly what was going on.
Your dog is the same. We’re not saying your dog is judging you after a big night out, of course. But dogs are able to figure out that something is different about you after you’ve been drinking.
In brief, here’s how dogs can tell that someone is drunk:
- Body language
- Routine changes
Our dogs are attuned to our every move. That’s one of the amazing aspects of the dog-human bond: we’ve actually evolved to respond to one another. Read on for more detail on how your dog knows when you’ve been drinking, and why it matters.
You Smell Funny!
It’s no big secret that dogs have a much better sense of smell than we do—in fact, some sources say that the part of the dog’s brain dedicated to analyzing smells is about 40 times greater than ours. No wonder they’re so good at smelling…everything. Some dogs are even able to sniff out cancer or figure out when someone is pregnant based on the scent of their changing hormones.
With abilities like that, it’s no wonder that dogs are able to smell the littlest bit of booze on you. The way you smell is the biggest giveaway to them that you’ve been drinking. Dogs can easily pick up the alcohol on your breath or coming from your pores. (Damn, you just can’t hide anything from them!)
So, yes, your dog can tell that you smell different than usual, even after just one drink. They may even avoid you a bit because even if you didn’t consume much, your “scent profile” might seem wrong to them.
On the other hand, do you often have a glass of wine at the end of the day? Your dog has likely adjusted to that scent, so they won’t be concerned about it. Only if it’s much stronger than usual, say after a friend’s bachelorette weekend, might they be taken aback.
You’re Acting Weird
In addition to your scent, your pet responds to your body language. If you’re drunk, you might act and move differently, and your dog will notice. Your voice might be a few octaves higher. You might be spending a lot of time looking in the fridge or trying to find your phone. You might just be laughing a lot more than usual.
If you’re bumping into chairs or stumbling around the house, your lack of balance might concern your pup. If you’re extra sleepy (which can happen after a few drinks!), your dog might also feel that something strange is going on.
Our behavior changes when we’re under the influence, too. Many of us become less inhibited after drinking—they don’t call it social lubricant for nothing—and that might include the way we act towards our dog.
For example, your pet is definitely going to notice when you excitedly chase them around the house, trying to give them big hugs. They may even try to steer clear of you if this feels overwhelming and isn’t part of your usual interactions.
If at all possible, try to minimize any erratic movements and behavior around your dog. You don’t want to confuse them or make them feel unsafe or scared.
You Slept In
Your dog will notice changes in routine. Just like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. If your wicked hangover leads to sleeping in, your dog might not mind—but they might also be antsy to get outside. They might be waiting by the door with the leash in their mouth while you’re trying to block the sunshine streaming through your window.
(Pro tip: if you don’t have a family member home to help walk the dog, this is a great time to book a Rover walker.)
While your dog will notice that you’re out of sorts, it won’t stop them from wanting your attention. They’re not going to hold it against you! You might even say that nothing cures a hangover like time with your furry friend.
Dogs Shouldn’t Drink Alcohol, Ever
Be careful about leaving alcoholic drinks open around your pup. They can be tempted to try them, especially if they smell or look interesting.
Alcohol is definitely not good for dogs in any situation. It’s harmful to their health and hard on their bodies. Be responsible and keep your containers away—there are plenty of ways to bond with Fido that don’t include a brewskie.
You can buy pretend beer for dogs as a special treat. Weird but true! Or spent beer grain dog treats. Or a beer bottle plush toy, which is actually very cute.
The Bottom Line
Your dog isn’t judging you for getting drunk, but they are affected by how it changes your behavior. As a great pet parent, it’s important to understand the impact that your tipsy evening can have on your four-legged friend.