Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs

Alcohol and dogs don't mix well. Alcohol contains ethanol, which is toxic for canines. Alcohol can even be fatal for dogs, depending on the ingested amount and the content of ethanol. Never give your dog alcohol on purpose, and if he accidentally swallows some, you should visit the vet to prevent complications.

Symptoms of Alcohol Ingestion

The symptoms of a dog that has ingested alcohol depend on how much ethanol content the beverage had. He will be staggering and may also be confused. He may be hyperactive for the first hours after ingestion. The dog may vomit, but this can happen only 1 to 2 hours after the ingestion of alcohol. If you notice that your dog has ingested alcohol, you should induce vomiting, to prevent the ethanol from being absorbed in the bloodstream. You can induce vomiting by preparing a solution of 3% hydroxide peroxide diluted with some water. Make sure your dog ingests the solution; you can use a syringe to feed your dog the solution if needed.

Symptoms of Poisoning

It takes several hours for the toxic substance to be absorbed by the bloodstream, so your dog will not present severe symptoms of poisoning for 3 to 4 hours after ingesting alcohol. Some common symptoms of poisoning in dogs include:

  • Weakness and slow movements
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting the contents of the stomach or just gastric acid; in rare cases there may be blood in the vomit, if the ethanol has burnt the stomach lining
  • Panting; the dog will breathe superficially and will gasp for air
  • Lethargy
  • Pain in the abdomen region
  • Dehydration
  • Urination problems
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Foam around the mouth
  • Collapse
  • Coma that can lead to brain damage or even death

It's important to get to the vet as soon as you notice the first symptoms, to prevent coma or death.

Treating Alcohol Poisoning

You should rush to the vet as soon as you realize that your dog has ingested alcohol. The vet will run an ethanol concentration test. He'll also give your pet some activated charcoal, which will absorb the toxic substances or may wash his stomach. If the poisoning is severe and the dog is very dehydrated, the vet will recommend some intravenous fluids for a faster recovery.

Preventing Alcohol Poisoning

As alcohol is a dangerous substance with serious consequences for your dog’s well being, you should prevent your dog from getting alcohol. Make sure that there are no open bottles available for your dog, or if you spill an alcoholic beverage, clean it up immediately to prevent him from licking the floor and ingesting it.

Remember that human mouthwash contains alcohol. Other sources of alcohol include aftershaves, perfumes and rubbing alcohols. Keep these out of the reach of your pet.