For the love of your pet: Is it safe to give dogs beer?
By John Beck
The Holidays are here. Our home will soon be overrun with multiple friends and relatives. The amount of food and drink will be overwhelming and amazing at the same time. My husband and I recently had a discussion about whether it is OK to give our dog a sip of beer. What do you think?
Your holiday schedule sounds like everyone else's, hectic and fun. Your dog is probably as excited as you are to see all those relatives again, especially the ones who sneak him turkey. What about those guests or a spouse who think it's cute to give the pet a drink? A single beer to a dog usually does not cause any problems.
The size and health of your pet is a factor that can determine how detrimental a single beer can be. The smaller the dog, the worse the effect will be. Just like in humans, for the most part, a 100-pound woman cannot drink as much as a 200-pound man. If there are any pre-existing conditions, i.e. heart, liver or kidney problems, the effect of the alcohol could be multiplied. Also, mixing alcohol with medications can not only be harmful to you, but also to your pet. If your dog is on any consistent medications, they could alter the way the alcohol is metabolized and any side effects.
Beer is usually not a culprit when it comes to alcohol poisoning in pets. A large amount of beer would have to be consumed to produce an ill effect. Some problems that might be seen are bloat, vomiting, loose stool or disorientation.
You do want to be careful when it comes to other types of alcohol. Liquor of any kind can be harmful. The amount of liquor that would need to be consumed to cause ill effects is much smaller than the amount of beer. Also, the higher the proof of the liquor, the worse it can be. You also will want to avoid wine or champagne products. These contain alcohol and grape products. Both of these things cause a diuretic effect causing dehydration. If consumed in greater quantity, liver or kidney failure could also become a problem.
I would kindly ask your guests to avoid giving any of your pets alcohol. You might want to put your dog in a room or kennel after the party starts to get a little "intense." Socializing early on when everyone still has their wits about them, then providing a safe place for them to stay the rest of the night, might be your best bet. You might consider putting out a bowl or canister of small dog treats for guests to give your pet. This will avoid the temptation to give them any human food or drink and also help your dog interact with your guests in a friendly way.
If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to contact me or your local veterinarian.
Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.