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Poison Awareness: Alcohol

While you’re out enjoying your St. Patrick’s Day green beer, just make sure you don’t share any with your pets this weekend.

greenbeerPoisonous to: Cats, Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe
Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Retching
  • Vomiting or attempting to vomit
  • Distended stomach/bloat
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Coma
  • Hypothermia
  • Death

Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think! This is because alcohol can be found in surprising places. Rum-soaked fruitcake or unbaked dough containing yeast result in alcohol poisoning and other life-threatening problems. Unbaked bread dough will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated stomach (called “bloat”), which can then progress to a gastric-dilitation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach. Signs of GDV include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse, and death. Secondly, when the yeast in the unbaked dough is fermented, it results in the production of carbon dioxide (causing the bloat) and alcohol. Alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in alcohol poisoning quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Information courtesy of the Pet Poison Helpline.

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