Can I Give My Dog Beer?

Can I give my dog beer?There’s nothing like sharing a nice cold beer with your buddies after a hard day’s work. Maybe you’d like to share one with man’s best friend, too, but is it really a good idea to give your K9 pal alcoholic beer? Many of us have seen dogs being given beer in movies and in funny home videos, but giving a dog beer is generally a really bad idea.

Giving your dog alcohol, including beer, can actually cause symptoms ranging from vomiting to brain damage and can even result in death. No matter how much they beg, all alcoholic beverages should be considered a big “NO!” for your pet.

Longer term, beer can bring about the same serious damage to dogs’ organs including kidneys, the liver, and the brain as it can in humans. Since dogs are smaller in size, the damage happens much quicker and can be deadly for your K9 often before you even realize it.

Can I Give My Dog Beer? Answer: No Way

It may be funny to watch your intoxicated dog stumble around, especially after you’ve drunk your share, but beer should definitely be on the list of things NOT to feed your dog. If you see them acting drunk then you’ve already gone too far. Sadly, that’s what some people are aiming for, watching a drunk dog as a form of entertainment. This is a tell-tale sign of harmful neglect that is unfortunately all too common.

Beer Health Risks

Liver damage – A dog’s liver is much smaller than that of a human and, as such, they will have a much harder time processing the alcohol in beer. Just like humans, liver damage is irreparable and can be fatal. Unless you want to put Fido on dialysis, keep them away from the beer altogether.

Dehydration – Drinking beer instead of water will not hydrate your pet. Dogs need plenty of water to stay healthy and drinking beer not only depletes them of water but also essential electrolytes. Minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium are lost when a dog becomes dehydrated and can even lead to death in extreme cases.

Physical depression – When a dog drinks beer it causes their central nervous system to slow down and become depressed. This causes the dog to lose coordination and can even slow their heart rate and breathing down to the point where they can slip into a coma.

Cardiac Arrest – High levels of alcohol in your dog’s blood stream can make their blood too acidic and can induce cardiac arrest.

Low blood sugar – Beer or any other alcohol can cause your pet’s blood sugar to drop drastically. A low blood sugar count can cause seizures and brain damage in your dog.

Kidney damage – Your dog’s kidneys are designed to filter blood, balance water and electrolytes in their blood stream. Kidneys also regulate acid-based concentrations in a K9 body. Even small amounts of alcohol found in beer can disrupt or damage the kidneys of a canine. Without proper kidney function, your dog will get very sick or die.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

If a dog drinks beer or some other alcoholic beverage, the main ingredient, ethanol, is absorbed into their body. A canine’s metabolism is much different than that of a humans’ and is not able to process ethanol as well as you. Size does indeed matter when consuming alcohol and a smaller dog will get alcohol poisoning much more quickly than a larger dog breed.

The better your dog’s general health, the longer alcohol takes to affect the dog. Let’s not test their health in this way. I personally know that if my dog drinks beer, either on purpose or by accident, alcohol poisoning is very likely. You should know the symptoms to look out for so that you can get your dog the help they need before it is too late in such a situation.

  • Changes in mood
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased urination
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Seizures

If your dog consumes even a small amount of alcohol on an empty stomach, you may begin to see symptoms of alcohol poisoning in as little as thirty minutes. However, if your dog has recently eaten, they may not experience symptoms for one or two hours. Observable drunkenness in a dog is much more serious than visible drunkenness in a typical human due to their inferior ability to handle the effects.

Treatment for Alcohol Poisoning of a Dog

If you think your dog might be sick from drinking beer or some other alcohol, it is important that you get them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Fortunately, most dogs can be successfully treated for alcohol poisoning if taken to a vet in time.

In most cases, the vet will draw blood to measure your dog’s blood alcohol content and check for damage to various internal organs. Treatment may include giving the dog activated charcoal, which can help remove the alcohol from your dog’s blood. The vet will also likely give your dog some IV fluids to help keep them hydrated and keep their blood sugar levels normal.

If you got your dog the proper treatment in time, they should begin to recover from an alcohol encounter including beer within eight to twelve hours. This assumes you don’t have a really drunk dog!

Bottom Line on Giving a Dog Beer

Can you give beer to your dog? This is a definite “NO!” The answer is easy. All the risks that you put your dog through by giving them beer, which is commonly made with barley, just aren’t worth it. You can enjoy time with your dog in many ways, but save the beer drinking for when you are with your human pals.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan July 6, 2013

Unscientific fear mongering. All the reasons you list go the same for human beings, but we drink alcohol all the time. I’m sure occasional doses and a low blood concentration, e.g. <1 g/L, is relatively harmless or does no more harm than it does to a human.

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James July 6, 2013

Evan, I agree with you in principle but I just cannot recommend anyone giving alcohol to a dog. Of course, people do so all the time without incident. This article is intended for people who are on the fence about it.

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Mike May 2, 2014

As little as I know about dog’s organs, I disagree with you Evan. Chocolate is relatively harmless for humans but not so for canines. They have much more sensitive liver and kidneys. Dogs’ kidneys simply can’t stand salty food as normal humans consume. I mean, I drink beer or wine every day and get drunk much more than I should, but never would consider giving my dog even a beer.

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