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“I host a lot of get-togethers in my home and my dog “works the room” begging for treats. Most of my guests know not to feed him, but I’m nervous he’ll lap up the alcoholic beverages left unattended without my knowledge. How much alcohol is too much? Are some alcohols more dangerous to dogs than others? Lastly, what do I do if my dog does drink alcohol?” -Party Animal

Dear PA: Alcohol toxicity is not as common as you may think, because dogs are not innately drawn to alcoholic beverages. However, accidents can happen. Just as with humans, the safety issue is not with the type of alcohol your dog consumes but rather, how much was consumed. For example, hard liquor, wine, and craft beer contain higher alcohol levels than lite beer. 

If your dog does accidentally consume alcohol, it’s hard to know whether the amount consumed is at dangerous levels. The health and weight of the dog in relation to the type and volume are both variables to consider. For example, for toy breeds a smaller amount of alcohol would be considered is dangerous than for larger breeds. 

The amount of ethanol needed to cause intoxication varies depending on its concentration in the substance ingested. The published oral lethal dose in dogs is 5.5 to 7.9 g/kg of 100% ethanol. One milliliter of ethanol is equal to 0.789 g.

Ethanol Concentrations In Drinks & Household Products

SUBSTANCE PROOF % ETHANOL BY VOLUME
Light beer 5–7 2.5–3.5
Beer 8–12 4–6
Ale 10–16 5–8
Wine 20–40 10–20
Mouthwash 14–27
Amaretto 34–56 17–28
Aftershave 19–90
Schnapps 40–100 20–50
Coffee liqueurs 42–53 21–26.5
Brandy 70–80 35–40
Bourbon 80–90 40–45
Rum 80–82 40–41
Cognac 80–82 40–41
Vodka 80–82 40–41
Whiskey 80–90 40–45
Tequila 80–92 40–46
Gin 80–94 40–47
Cologne/perfume 50
Hand sanitizers 60–95
*For alcoholic beverages, the proof is double the percentage of alcohol present.

Dogs may tend to be more attracted to fruit-based drinks, cocktails, punches, ciders, seltzers, and foods with alcohol as a key ingredient. Another serious consideration is diet alcoholic beverages or other mixers that may contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener which is highly dangerous, and even fatal, if consumed by a dog. 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Toxicity in Dogs

Canines respond to the effects of alcohol much like humans, and the impact is often mild.  You should, however, contact your vet, emergency clinic, or pet poison hotline if you have any concerns, to establish if treatment is needed. Anytime your dog does get into alcoholic beverages or foods containing alcohol, look for these key warning signs:

  • Depression or lethargy
  • Incoordination
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting or retching
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)

You cannot completely control your pet’s environment and what they consume, but education and awareness is the best start for keeping your dog healthy.

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