Can I Give My Dog Beer?
For many people, recreation is synonymous with drinking. While most adults do not drink to the point of intoxication on a regular basis—and, if they do, we hope they seek professional help—it is common for many people to unwind with a beer and their favorite television show after work. Though alcohol in excess is known to cause a wide range of problems, a significant portion of American adults drink beer in moderation without even worrying about it.
At family gatherings and other parties, our not-quite-sober relatives often come up with a ‘fantastic’ idea: why not pour a little bit of beer into the dog’s dish? Pop culture is full of tipsy dogs, and many people seem to think it would be funny to get their dog a little bit drunk every now and then. So, can dogs have beer?
The answer is no, dogs can’t drink beer—this is one human activity that should be limited to our own species. Alcoholic beverages are not safe for canines in any amounts. It may seem funny to watch your Poodle stumble clumsily about the living room, but it is also extremely dangerous. Dogs can’t handle nearly the quantities of alcohol that we can. Just like in humans, alcohol poisoning can result in permanent damage and death. There is no reason to give your dog any quantity of alcohol. If you want to give them a treat at a party, give them a couple of baby carrots. They will be just as happy to be included, and they will be far safer!
It probably comes as no surprise to hear that there are no health benefits to be had in giving your dog beer—after all, beer is not considered a health drink for humans either! Beer is high in calories and completely empty of nutrition. Alcoholic beverages will not provide any of the vitamins or minerals that your dog needs to stay happy and healthy. This means that, in the best of cases, beer is empty calories.
If you somehow manage to avoid the more serious side effects of giving your dog alcohol, letting them drink beer even semi-regularly may result in weight gain. One can of beer contains 154 calories. If you are also in the habit of tossing your dog table scraps to go with their sip of beer, these extra calories will add up quickly. Liquid calories like those found in beer can lead your dog to become overweight or even obese.
Your dog’s beer belly can become a serious health problem. In the short term, pudgy pooches often lose their love of exercise; they become lethargic, stiff, and lose their ability to run around and play. Overweight or obese dogs are more likely to develop chronic or life threatening conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer. Combined with the organ damage caused by alcohol, obesity can be a complete disaster for your pet.
The more pressing issue is alcohol poisoning. Dogs have a much lower alcohol tolerance than most adult humans, which means that it does not take very much beer to cause permanent damage to their organs. If you give your dog a significant amount of beer or any alcoholic beverage, you are putting them at a risk of developing ethanol toxicosis.
Things to Consider
Alcohol is a depressant, so poisoning usually shows up in symptoms such as lethargy, confusion, disorientation, poor coordination, slowed reflexes, behavioral changes (including either excitement or depression), low body temperature, incontinence, slowed heartbeat, vomiting, and labored breathing. Left untreated, alcohol poisoning can destroy the liver and kidneys, cause heart attacks, or contribute to fatally low blood sugar. Dogs with low blood sugar may have seizures and brain damage.
If your dog has been exposed to beer and starts to show symptoms of drunkenness or alcohol poisoning, it would be wise to take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms of intoxication usually show up sometime between 15 and 30 minutes after the alcohol has been consumed. It is crucial to be honest about your dog’s condition—do not lie to your vet because you are embarrassed or worried about getting in trouble. Your dog’s health is most important! Your dog may require intravenous fluids, supplementary oxygen, and other supportive care. To help reduce absorption, your veterinarian may administer activated charcoal. Most dogs will begin to recover within 24 hours.
In conclusion, dogs should never be given the opportunity to consume any amount of beer. Though your relatives may find it amusing to see a dog get tipsy and silly, alcohol consumption is extremely dangerous for our pets. Alcohol can cause low blood sugar, behavioral changes, permanent kidney or liver damage, vomiting, seizures, coma, and heart attacks. If your dog has consumed beer and starts to behave strangely, take them to see a veterinarian—alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency.