Can Dogs Have Alcohol? What To Do If Your Dog Drank Alcohol

Wondering if your furry friend can partake in the festivities? Hear from a vet about whether or not dogs can have alcohol and what to do if your dog drank it.

Dr. Buck Drummond, DVM

Updated March 07, 2023 • Published March 07, 2023

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Can Dogs Have Alcohol? What To Do If Your Dog Drank Alcohol

A holiday like St. Patrick’s day is a festive party time for many people, and you may be tempted to let your pup join in on the fun. However, intentionally giving your dog an alcoholic drink is not inviting him to join the party. It’s really more like drugging a toddler.

A dog doesn’t know what to expect (so can’t ‘consent’) and might be panicked by that unsteady feeling. And a dog’s liver is not prepared to break down alcohol like a human’s, so it can make them sicker quicker, and stay sick longer. The euphoria you might be looking for at the bottom of a glass will more likely bring your unsuspecting dog fear and nausea.

And if a dog should find a drink on its own? If your dog drank alcohol without you knowing, it's important to understand the risks and what you should do next.

Can dogs have alcohol?

You may have heard stories from nature of wild animals seeking out fermented fruit to intentionally become intoxicated. Some of those rampaging elephants or tipsy bears might well be considered ‘experienced drinkers’ who know what they’re getting into (although it’s doubtful that their escapades give them any Darwinian survival advantage). 

Dosage always matters—these wild animals are scrounging around for some traces of alcohol in a bunch of rotting apples, not being presented with an unattended shot of whiskey (or whisky, look it up, it’s a whole thing).

Sometimes it’s more than just the alcohol content. It's widely known that grapes can be severely toxic to a certain percentage of dogs, causing irreversible kidney failure, so it stands to reason that the same possibility exists for wine. Sweeter drinks, especially those with dairy, can be particularly attractive to our wandering pets, only making things worse. Dairy and added sugar can further upset a dog’s GI tract (both ends!) and trigger inflammation in the pancreas, too.

No amount or type of alcohol is safe for dogs.

Signs your dog is drunk

So you think your dog might be drunk?

The signs that your dog may be drunk can be the same ones you recognize in your friends, like sleepiness, stumbling around, and making bad decisions. However, more severe cases can lead to respiratory depression, abnormally low body temperature, and even seizures

Many people will recall tales from their own first inexperienced days of drinking that led to vomiting. With dogs, even a small amount of alcohol can lead to vomiting, and when they are seriously impaired, that comes with the risk of potentially fatal aspiration. Keep this in mind if you are considering trying to make your dog vomit at home in an attempt to get the alcohol out of their system. If they are already sleepy or unsteady, which increases the chances of them aspirating the vomit, don’t do it!

What to do if your dog drank alcohol

If you suspect (or know) that your dog drank alcohol, you should talk to a veterinary professional for guidance. It may be safe to let them sleep it off at home, but some situations may call for medical treatment, or even a stay in the hospital.

So come March 17 this year, you can dress your dog up in a silly green costume, take him to a parade, and let him howl along while you slur your way through Danny Boy. You can even have your friends hang you up upside down so you can kiss him like the Blarney Stone.

Just don’t get your dog drunk this St Paddy’s day. (Maybe look into non-alcoholic beer made for dogs, because of course that exists...)

If you're worried your dog drank alcohol or have any questions about your precious pup, the team at Pawp is here to help 24/7.

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