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Can Dogs Drink Alcohol? Is Alcohol Safe for Dogs?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

can dogs drink alcohol2

The quick answer is that no, dogs cannot drink alcohol. Alcohol is very bad for their systems. Unlike humans who can handle alcohol in moderate quantities (most of us anyway), it doesn’t take a lot of alcohol to cause toxicity in dogs.

Here in this guide, we will tell you why dogs cannot consume alcohol, what to do if your dog accidentally drinks it, and what toxicity symptoms to look out for.

And it’s not just alcoholic drinks that you need to be aware of. Other household items contain alcohol that you need to keep out of paws reach too.

This short but sweet guide is a must-read for all dog owners. So, let’s get this sober party started!

Divider 1Why Is Alcohol Bad For Dogs?

whiskey glasses
Image Credit: jarmoluk, Pixabay

Alcohol is toxic, even in small amounts. Think back to a time where you’ve had too much alcohol. Or, if you are always the designated driver, think about a friend that you’ve watched gradually get worse because of one too many beverages.

Now consider what that could do to Fido, with his smaller frame, and even tinier digestive system. It wreaks havoc with a dog’s organs, and it can be fatal.

The Pet Poison Helpline has rated alcohol poisoning as mild to moderate. But there are many factors to consider that could make alcohol poisoning a much higher risk to your dog.Divider 4

Types of Alcohol and Household Products

It’s not just alcoholic beverages that you need to be wary of. Other household products contain alcohol that are just as toxic, and sometimes more so than a glass of wine or beer.

Here are the types of alcohol you need to know about, and what products you might find them in.

Sick Husky
Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock


Ethanol is the most common type of alcohol found in the home, and it is this alcohol that is found in alcoholic drinks. Remember that sweet alcohol drinks such as cocktails often contain xylitol, which is extremely toxic to dogs too.

Ethanol is commonly formed from the fermentation of sugars, and as such, it can also be found in raw bread doughs and rotting fruit.


This type of alcohol is almost twice as potent as ethanol and methanol. It is commonly found in rubbing alcohols, and some household cleaners, anti-freeze, perfumes, and alcohol-based topical sprays such as flea treatments.

If your pooch has ingested any of these substances, there are likely to be other toxic chemicals present too.


This is found in automotive windshield washer fluids, household products such as paint stripper, and canned heat. If Fido has ingested these substances, there are likely to contain other toxic ingredients as well.

How Much Alcohol Is Toxic to Dogs?

Thankfully, dogs aren’t drawn to alcohol like they are with other toxic treats, such as chocolate. The pungent smell is often off-putting, and they will avoid it. If they had to choose an alcoholic drink, they would favor milky or sweet-based alcohol, such as wine or cocktails over whiskey or tequila.

But, accidents happen, and some dogs will eat and drink anything and everything. So it’s essential to know when you need to worry.

This basically comes down to how much alcohol has been ingested and how small your dog is. For example, a lick of wine will have a far worse effect on a Chihuahua than a Mastiff.

Usually, if your dog has had more than one sip of alcohol, or you cannot be sure how much he has ingested, you will need to call the vet straight away. They can advise you based on your individual circumstances, but they will likely recommend an immediate trip just to be safe.

To give you an idea about the alcohol content in common drinks and household products, the American Kennel Club has provided the following information:

Substance % Alcohol by Volume
Light Beer 2.5 – 3.5
Beer 4 – 6
Ale 5 – 8
Wine 10 – 20
Mouthwash 14 – 27
Ameretto 17 – 28
Aftershave 19 – 90
Schnapps 20 – 50
Coffee Liqueurs 21 – 26.5
Brandy 35 – 40
Rum 40 – 41
Cognac 40 – 41
Vodka 40 – 41
Whiskey 40 – 45
Bourbon 40 – 45
Tequilla 40 – 46
Gin 40 – 47
Cologne/Perfume 50
Hand Sanitizer 60 – 95
Image Credit: Pexels

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

If, despite your best efforts, Fido manages to get hold of an alcoholic beverage or product, you need to monitor his behavior. If he shows any of the following symptoms, it’s time to get him to a vet immediately:

  • Vomiting or retching
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Excessive panting or decreased respiratory rate
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • High temperature

Divider 3The Wrap Up

What you should take from this is that your dog should never drink alcohol. Do everything that you can to keep these items out of his reach.

But accidents do happen, so if you notice that your pooch has come into contact with alcohol, or is showing any of the above symptoms, get him down to the emergency room immediately.

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Featured Image Credit: wasi1370, Pixabay

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