Can Dogs Drink Beer?

Can Dogs Drink Beer?

Can dogs take beer?

Many pet owners indulge in sharing their beverages with their dogs at home. While some of such beverages are quite harmless and even beneficial when taken in small amounts, others could cause life-threatening conditions in dogs.

Alcohol is a popular example of a common beverage that is quite deadly to dogs. Because their livers cannot process alcohol, they tend to get intoxicated and poisoned pretty quickly. In this article, you would learn more about alcohol and its interactions with your pet dogs.

Personal experience

Before getting down to the facts, let's see a personal experience of mine with some client's dog. The dog, a two-year-old Beagle, drank about half a cup of alcohol the previous night and was already delirious by morning. The owner hosted a party and somehow, left his dog around the bar. Left to its own devices, the Beagle nursed a large cup of beer till it could take no more. It stumbled to its own corner and passed out almost immediately.

Since the owner didn't know what it took, he didn't suspect anything amiss till he discovered it was unconscious the following morning. After diagnosis, we placed it on IV fluids for about two days. The poisoning relapsed and we discharged it after a week of close monitoring.

Why can't my dog drink beer? 

As mentioned earlier, dogs and beer don't just go. Their livers can't metabolize alcohol, and, consequently, it accumulates to toxic levels very quickly. 

The smaller your dog is, the faster it gets intoxicated and poisoned. Also, higher alcohol contents mean more danger to your dog's system. Hence, while you can share a lot of drinks with your pet, you really should draw the line at alcoholic drinks.

What ingredients in beers are dangerous to dogs?

The most dangerous components of beers are ethanol and hops. Carbonated beers are also quite dangerous, but alcohol content and presence of hops in beers make them very toxic for dogs.

  • Ethanol
  • Unlike human livers, dog livers lack the required enzymes to break down alcohol. Consequently, the absorbed alcohol from the beer builds up in the liver, causing accelerated death of liver cells and significant damage to the liver. The liver could even be destroyed within hours, depending on how much beer your dog took and the dog's size. 

  • Hops
  • Hops are an essential part of brewing, along with yeast and grains. The female flowers of the plant are used to create a bitter tang in many beer brands. 

    However, they are highly toxic to your canine companions. Even in little amounts, hops could cause increased body temperature–often over 41⁰C. In more quantities, they could cause irreversible kidney damage.

    Some dog breeds are quite more susceptible to damage from hops than other breeds. Akitas, Samoyeds, Dobermans, Labs, and Siberian Huskies are among the most affected breeds. Unlike alcohol, there is no safe amount of hops your dog can consume, so it's best to keep them off beers altogether.

    Effects of Beer on dogs

    The effects of beer on dogs could range from mild to severe cases. The severity depends on how much the dog drank at once, the dog's size, and the alcohol content in the beer. 

    If your dog took only a little beer, or it took a drink of low alcoholic content, it is very likely to only experience mild symptoms. Some of them include:

    • Vomiting
    • Loss of balance/stumbling
    • Lethargy and drooling

    At times, even the little it has had could affect it mentally. Just like humans might lose a bit of control when they are intoxicated, your dog could become more aggressive or fearful after taking a little alcohol.

    On the other hand, things could escalate pretty quickly. In fact, only a few alcohol poisoning cases are mild. Dogs absorb alcohol faster than any human, so you can't determine when it has had enough. 

    The severe cases could manifest one or more of the following symptoms:

    • Muscle tremors and seizures
    • Unconsciousness
    • Slow and shallow breathing and slow heart rate
    • Rapid decrease in body temperature

    If you notice any of the signs above, it is best to get your dog veterinary aid as quickly as you can. Alcohol toxicity could lead to organ failure and death within hours, if your dog doesn't get immediate attention.

    What should I do if my dog drinks beer?

    You shouldn't panic if you find your dog has taken some of your beer. While you should seek help as quickly as you can, it is essential you observe the dog's condition closely so you can give the doctors relevant information when you get to the clinic. 

    If you are certain your dog didn't take too much alcohol, and it's only displaying mild symptoms, professionals suggest you could allow it to sleep through the phase. You should still keep an eye on it though, so you notice any changes on time.

    However, if you are not sure how much alcohol it took, or it is expressing symptoms of severe toxicity, you should take it to a vet for diagnosis. 

    How to prevent my dog from accessing beers

    Preventing your dog from drinking beers is an area dog owners will have to handle for themselves. It is your responsibility to ensure that beers and other alcoholic beverages are kept away from your dog always. Below are some tips that might help your dog stay safely away alcohol:

    • While taking beer, ensure you keep a close eye on your drink and your furry friend. Dogs are naturally curious, and if you are not attentive, they could drink your beer.
    • Clean any beer spills. Since even little amounts of beer could be problematic, it is essential you clean every beer spill the house to keep your dog safe.
    • Keep alcoholic beverages out of your dog's reach.
    • If you take your dog to parties, make sure you tell guests not to offer it any alcohol.
    • You could also train your dog to avoid beer, so it doesn't take beer even when it has access to it.

    Conclusion

    No, beers are not safe for your dogs and any amount of beer could cause concerns for your dog's health. The onus is on pet owners to keep beers and alcohol away from their dogs to protect their health.

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