Alcohol Poisoning in Pets

Alcohol poisoning is typically a condition associated with humans; however, our pets can be exposed to alcohol in a variety of ways, including some that might surprise you. We all know that alcohol, specifically ethanol, is found in beverages including beer, wine, liquor, and can also be an ingredient in certain foods such as desserts and baked goods. It’s probably no surprise that alcohol can be a common component of many household items such as, certain liquid medications, mouthwash and hand sanitizer. But, did you know that alcohol is also produced in uncooked yeast-based dough? Ethanol is produced when yeast ferments as dough rises, so if your dog or cat ingests your uncooked baking project, they can be at risk of alcohol poisoning in addition to an upset stomach.

When a pet ingests alcohol there can be serious consequences. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and signs of poisoning may be seen as early as one hour later. Alcohol poisoning can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar and body temperature in dogs and cats, especially when they are young. The effects of alcohol are dose-dependent, meaning the more alcohol your pet consumes, the more they will be affected.

Typically, the initial signs of alcohol poisoning exhibited by our pets are neurological and are not dissimilar to how a human might act under the influence of alcohol. Your cat or dog may appear depressed or show signs of weakness and incoordination when moving around. Your pet may also vomit, and you may notice variations in their breathing pattern, changing from slow to fast. In severe cases, seizures and respiratory distress are possible complications as well as a drop in blood glucose and other metabolic changes.

If your pet has consumed alcohol, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline® immediately to determine the most appropriate treatment needs to ensure a positive outcome.