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Can Dogs Get Drunk? What To Do if Your Dog Is Inebriated.

A drunk dog is no laughing matter; alcohol poses great dangers to them. Here’s how to avoid dog inebriation, and what to do if your dog is drunk.

Having a few drinks can be a great way to unwind, and as you do so you might see your dog and wonder what effect alcohol has on dogs. What happens when dogs get drunk, and what should you do if you notice your dog is inebriated?

Alcohol is poisonous to dogs and should not be given to them under any circumstances. Even small amounts can cause serious issues. If you notice intoxication, consider contacting your vet immediately. Otherwise, keep your dog warm and hydrated, and monitor them closely.

We’ll go through the effect of alcohol on dogs, and look at the reasons why alcohol and dogs don’t mix. We’ll also consider what warning signs you should look for, strategies to stop alcohol poisoning, and steps to take if you notice your dog is drunk.

Dogs and Alcohol

As might be expected, dogs aren’t immune from the effects of alcohol. This means that a dog’s powerful sense of smell and an unattended beverage can very quickly end up with a drunk dog.

Alcohol poisoning for a dog can come from many sources, some which may be a bit unexpected. They very likely won’t be able to resist alcohol in a food form, such as rum-drenched fruit cake, as well as unbaked yeast dough as it goes through the proofing process. 

Symptoms of a Drunk Dog

To tell if your dog is drunk, look for many of the similar features you would spot in humans. The most common is staggering and poor coordination, as well as drooling or vomiting. 

Other signs include a quickened heart rate and low body temperature combined with weakness or drowsiness. More serious cases of alcohol poisoning may manifest in collapse into a coma or respiratory issues, eventually leading to death.

Also look out for excessive urination, involuntary defecation, or even unresponsiveness. Some of us may recognize these signs as being in common with both humans and dogs.

Muscle tremors and seizures may be another sign, and even mild cases of alcohol poisoning can cause failure of the organs and even death in dogs. Treat alcohol just like chocolate, onions, salt and a long list of toxic foods and liquid that should never be given to a dog.

Often, even the tiniest amounts may be harmful to them, no matter how much they may beg for it. 

Keep in mind that if you don’t have any particular evidence of your dog being drunk apart from the above symptoms, you should investigate other conditions that may be the cause.

For example, stroke, bloat, hypoglycemia, and heart disease can produce similar symptoms, and you should consult with your vet if you notice them.

Marijuana edibles, which can be mistakenly dropped on the floor or left unattended, are also a source of potential harm to your dog and can cause symptoms much like those of alcohol inebriation.

Alcohol Tolerance of Dogs

Due to dogs generally being much smaller than humans, it is very easy for a dog to imbibe a lethal dose of alcohol.

Dogs also have nowhere near the tolerance of humans for alcohol, as we have evolved over many thousands of years after exposure to alcohol to develop our immune system.

How Does Alcohol Affect a Dog?

One of the big issues with alcohol and dogs is the internal changes that can occur to your dog’s physiology. 

In dogs, alcohol causes a condition called metabolic acidosis. The reaction of the dog’s cells and tissues is for them to become bathed in acid upon exposure to even small amounts of alcohol. 

To try and counteract this, the dog’s internal systems force the heart to race in order to supply new cell materials and remove any poisons. Concurrently, the blood sugar levels will plummet and respiration is depressed almost completely.

Drunken dogs that die generally do so from respiratory failure when drunk, rather than choking on their own vomit, as humans tend to do.

What To Do With an Inebriated Dog

Most importantly, call your vet and follow their advice. Based on your dog’s symptoms and the quantity of alcohol consumed (if known), they can judge the potential severity of the situation and whether your dog needs to be examined and treated.

In the meantime, try to locate the source of the alcohol and remove your dog’s access to it. Make sure to offer them plenty of fresh, clean water. If your dog isn’t interested in drinking, you can give them a mix of chicken broth and water to help motivate them to consume fluids.

Dogs also tend to lose body temperature rapidly when drunk, so get them into a warm area with a blanket if necessary.

Food will also help dilute the alcohol and control their body temperature, so offer small amounts of food such as dog kibble or biscuits.

inebriated dog

What Will the Vet Do?

There are some common treatments that a vet may provide when presented with a clear case of alcohol poisoning. 

One involves giving an injection to make your dog intentionally vomit, therefore emptying the alcohol out of their stomach. This strategy only tends to work on recent alcohol consumption, so try and get your dog to the vet as quickly as possible.

Other treatments generally include intravenous fluids to help hydrate your pup, as well as help flush the alcohol out, and . intravenous glucose to stabilize blood sugar.  in some cases, drugs are needed to suppress seizures.

Preventing Your Dog from Getting Drunk

Prevention is the best method to keeping your dog safe from alcohol. Use common sense and don’t leave open alcohol unattended in your home or yard.

The first thing that should be done is to prevent any further consumption of alcohol. If you’ve ever seen a hungry dog go after a meal (or just any food lying around), then you know that they often don’t care what it is they eat or drink. They will ingest anything that’s available and smells interesting enough to consume.

Try to identify where they got the alcohol from and move it all out of reach. There can be surprising sources of alcohol, for example a broken liquor bottle in a cabinet leaking out the bottom, or a leaking keg.

Dogs have even been known to chomp into beer cans or break wine bottles, so the best bet is just to keep all alcohol away from any reasonable area your dog could access.

Create Barriers to Keep Dog Away from Alcohol

If you have a bar, a great option is to use a pet gate or baby gate to make the area inaccessible for your dog. A baby gate that can be easily put in doorways or the entrance to your home bar to stop curious canines.

A high tech option is the PetSafe Pawz Away Mini Pet Barrier for Dogs. This involves a Pawz Away Indoor Pet Barrier transmitter and an associated collar. 

By putting the transmitter in the area you want your pet to stay away from, the collar uses a series of beeps and then a safe yet startling static correction to warn the dog away.

Alcohol must be stored in a way that a persistent dog can’t get to it. Putting it in a cabinet above ground level will do fine for most dogs. As with all food and drink, don’t leave alcoholic beverages unattended as your dog will often find these and sample them when you’re not looking.

Make Guests Aware of Rules for Your Dog

Good dog training involves having everyone act consistently to model behavior for your dogs. This means that if you have guests, you should always go through dos and don’ts for your dog, including not to give your dog any drinks, let alone alcoholic ones.

Unfortunately, drunk guests may forget this advice. As the dog owner, you are responsible and so must keep your dog separate so that alcohol is not imbibed by your dog, even accidentally.

Parties and gatherings tend to mean spilled beverages, and these should be fully cleaned immediately.

Final Words

While the thought of letting your dog get pleasantly buzzed may sound like a harmless idea, it’s anything but that. Keep alcohol away from your dog, and make sure others visiting your home do so as well.

If your dog does get inebriated, call your vet to gauge the potential severity of the situation and follow their advice.

Superb Dog Editor

Superb Dog Editor