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Can Dogs and Cats Drink Alcohol? Should They?

We probably all know someone who has done it; given their dog or cat alcohol in order to watch them wobble clumsily around the living room. Perhaps they even claim that the dog enjoys beer and will seek it out if left unattended. These behaviors beg the question, “Is it safe for my dog or cat to drink alcohol?”

In a word, no.

cute sitting cat


Just as with humans, overexposure to alcohol can be toxic to pets. And, unlike with humans, we have no clear gauge of how to determine when an animal has consumed too much alcohol for their size. In this way, there is no safe amount of alcohol for your pet. Alcohol will suppress your pet’s nervous system, causing them to become drowsy and clumsy.

When animals reach over-exposure their heart rate and body temperatures will drop. In other instances animals may develop metabolic acidosis as a result of overexposure to alcohol. In this instance, the blood becomes to acidic and cardiac arrest could set in, potentially leading to death.

Alcohol consumption in pets doesn’t have to be limited to your glass of beer or wine though. Be careful not to leave cough drops or syrup or even mouthwash in a place where your pet can consume it. These products also contain alcohol and unlike with humans, your pet has no way to comprehend that they are not meant to be consumed in mass, if at all!

If your pet does become exposed to alcohol, either from a spilled beverage or from personal care products, it is important to know the signs of potential over exposure. These include:

  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive and uncontrollable urination

If these symptoms are present you’ll want to get your pet to an emergency clinic right away. The vet will administer tests to determine how much alcohol was consumed and determine the best course of treatment.

Apart from what seems the obvious reasons to not give your pet alcohol, you should also consider that many of the ingredients in your favorite alcoholic beverage are toxic to pets before they’re even turned into alcohol. For example, to many dogs, grapes are toxic. This means offering wine too your pooch could kill him, since the product is made from grapes. In addition to grapes, the hops used in your favorite beer can also be toxic to dogs. In general; don’t offer your dog even a small sip of your alcoholic beverage.

To those who insist that their animal loves alcohol and will seek it out, understand that this behavior is the result of curiosity and a craving for the salt found in alcoholic beverages. Dogs can and will drink any variety of liquids out of boredom alone. It doesn’t mean that they should have them or that their internal organs are built to tolerate them.

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