6 June 2011

How Hazardous Is Alcohol To Dogs And Cats?

Posted by Admin under: Health .

It’s outrageous, but some of the people actually enjoy giving their cat or dog alcohol and seeing how they react. As Fluffy or Fido reels around in a confused condition, their owners have a good giggle. Not each person who owns pets realizes that alcohol is toxic to dogs and cats – and exposure to outwardly innocuous amounts of alcohol can kill a pet. When alcoholic drinks are served, cats and dogs should be left out of the party – and in a safe place.

Topping up a pet’s bowl with beer or wine is not the only potential way a dog or cat can gain access to alcohol. They can also get exposure by licking up or drinking cooking products which contain alcohol, personal products like mouthwash or perfume, household cleaning products – or by getting into alcohol-containing cough syrups or other medications.

Some producers of cat and dog oral hygiene products really add 25% or more alcohol to their recipe, which may also cause injury over time. Either way, alcohol is bad for canines or cats. Cats and dogs can even get alcohol toxicity by consuming fermented foods, provided they eat sufficient of them.

Some types of alcoholic drinks are far more perilous to cats and dogs than others. Beer contains the lowest concentration of alcohol, typically around 4%. Wine averages 10% alcohol by volume, but some hard liquor can be as high as ninety percent alcohol.

Even small quantities of hard spirits can for certain kill a small dog or cat. More reason to keep that liquor cupboard locked and pets in a secure place when entertaining. Remember that all alcoholic beverages should be off-limit to pets without reference to the concentration of alcohol.

As in humans, when a dog or cat ingests alcohol, it causes depression of their central nervous system. In some ways, its effects on a pet’s nervous system are similar to that of humans. A dog or cat slows down, becomes drowsy and loses their coordination. If they’re exposed to higher degrees of alcohol, it can depress their nervous system to the extent that their breathing and heart rate slow down, and their body temperature drops.

Their blood chemistry is also changed, resulting in a threatening condition called metabolic acidosis where the blood becomes too acidic. At this stage, without treatment, death soon follows usually due to cardiac arrest. Even if a cat or dog doesn’t die of the acute results of alcohol poisoning, it can be damaging to their liver and kidneys.

What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Poisoning In Dogs And Cats?

Look out for changes in behaviour like problems standing up or walking, trouble with coordination, fatigue, a slow respiratory rate, excessive urination, puking, or a lack of responsiveness. Infrequently a dog or cat will have an odour of alcohol on their breath. If a cat or dog has had a full meal and then ingested alcohol, the signs and indications of alcohol harmfulness might be delayed for at least two hours.

Dogs and cats that are exposed to alcohol can also have perilous drops in their blood sugar level and might need to be given glucose speedily to avoid brain damage. Very low blood sugars can cause fits in pets.

If your cat or dog has any of these danger signs, take them to a vet’s office or animal emergency center immediately. The sort of treatment a veterinarian administers to a cat or dog that has alcohol poisoning varies dependng on their symptoms, lab studies and how much they consumed. The veterinarian will probably measure the quantity of alcohol in their blood, and check other blood parameters before beginning suitable treatment.

Some pets may not require treatment if the quantity of alcohol they consumed was little. Other animals will need activated charcoal to absorb the alcohol and intravenous fluids. Dogs and cats with a very slow heart rate due to the ingestion of alcohol may even have to be on a ventilator. Fortunately, most instances of alcohol poisoning in dogs and cats can be treated effectively if that treatment is started sufficiently early.
The Bottom Line:

Giving a cat or dog alcohol at a party is not an occasion for humor. It could permanently damage or kill the animal. Similarly, it’s important to keep all dogs and cats away from personal care products and home products. Study the label and ensure you buy a non-alcoholic cat and dog dental care product. Try to get other members of your family to do the same. Cats and dogs don’t know what’s good for them and what isn’t – and they’re by nature curious creatures. Don’t allow them to accidentally or purposely play around with alcohol.

References : The Merck Veterinary Manual. 2010.


8 Comments so far...

Ben Says:

13 August 2012 at 9:28 am.

Alcohol is just as much of a toxin for dogs and cats as it is to humans. In moderation, I see no problem with giving fido the occasional cocktail. *** ALCOHOL AND PETS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS COMBINATION, I.E. LIFE-ENDING. PLEASE READ ADMIN’S RESPONSE BELOW ***

admin Says:

13 August 2012 at 10:26 am.

You must NEVER give any alcohol to dogs and cats!

Dogs and cats can not metabolise alcohol in the same way that we humans can, so although you may not see any effects from the alcohol immediately, you will end up permanently damaging their liver and/or kidneys, thus leading to an early death.

Jack Says:

28 August 2012 at 5:25 am.

I think there’s no problem with a small quaff of beer for your dog. My dog loves it. If I suggest “jerky” or “walk” and he doesn’t respond, all I have to say is “beer?” and he’s all ears. It looks like the administrators of this website are a bunch of wowsers. Party on with rufus, life is short anyway. We’re all going to die sooner or later, have some fun now. *** ALCOHOL AND PETS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS COMBINATION, I.E. LIFE-ENDING. PLEASE READ ADMIN’S RESPONSE BELOW ***

admin Says:

29 August 2012 at 5:30 pm.

We repeat our response to Ben, earlier: you must NEVER give any alcohol to dogs and cats!

Dogs and cats can not metabolise alcohol in the same way that we humans can, so although you may not see any effects from the alcohol immediately, you will end up permanently damaging their liver and/or kidneys, thus leading to an early death.

theboxninja72 Says:

29 August 2012 at 11:55 pm.

Wow, @ben and jack, you come to a site, that gives actual answers and logical reasons on why to NOT give your dog/cat/pet alcohol, and you bash admins and say it’s fine? For the sake of your pets, I hope they get taken away from you both, as nether of you are fit to be owners. It’s sickening to see people like you having pets, being stupid killing your animals while you think it’s funny and harmless.

zunaj Says:

28 September 2012 at 9:44 am.

My dog likes to lick my glass of alcohol when I put it down, but after reading this….no more

Lynn Says:

26 December 2012 at 6:19 pm.

I dropped a cup with a small amount of red wine outside, i rinsed the area off but the dog (large golden retriever) had licked up some of it already….should I be worried?

Admin Says:

26 December 2012 at 9:52 pm.

Lynn,

We would be worried purely on the basis that even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous, and we always prefer to be safe than sorry when it comes to our own doggies.

Obviously, we recommend keeping all alcohol away from pets at all times, but we do accept that accidents happen from time to time.

In the case of your dog, we would recommend giving it a full detox. We wrote an article about a detox protocol we developed, and although it was originally devised to minimize the risks of adverse side-effects from giving our dogs rabies shots, the protocol can be used equally effectively to get rid of any chemicals (including alcohol, dewormers and other vaccinations such as Parvo and Bordetella) from a dog’s system. You can find the article here: http://www.ParvoBuster.org/VaccineProtocol