Like their human companions, pets are susceptible to poisoning associated with the consumption of alcohol. The ethanol contained in alcohol is rapidly absorbed by pets and can cause seizures, sudden decreases in blood glucose (sugar) levels, decreased body temperature, and has the potential to cause death. The severity of the alcohol poisoning will vary greatly depending on the size of the pet, the quantity of alcohol consumed, and the type of alcohol. Any occurrence where a pet is known to have or believed to have consumed alcohol should be considered as a medical emergency and your pet’s veterinarian should be contacted immediately. Once the ethanol has been consumed, absorption into your pet’s system begins and changes in their condition may occur rapidly and without warning. Therefore, it is extremely important to closely monitor your pet until you arrive at your veterinarian. As with any potential poisoning, pet owners should never attempt to treat the problem themselves and should never administer any substance to induce vomiting without direct orders to do so from their veterinarian, as inducing vomiting can, at times, cause additional complications. In the event that veterinary care is not available, pet owners should contact their local poison control center for recommendations. Treatment of alcohol poisoning will vary depending on the toxicity level, the overall health of the pet, and the symptoms they are experiencing. Blood work may be performed in order to determine the toxicity levels and to evaluate the condition of vital organ systems, which can be compromised or damaged. Intravenous fluids and monitoring by your pet’s veterinary team are common with alcohol poisonings as a supportive care measure. Other medications may be administered on a case-by-case basis to control seizures and other symptoms. Prognosis varies depending on the severity of the poisoning. Owners must also remember that many foods contain alcohol and can be another source of poisoning in pets.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information regarding alcohol poisoning in pets or visit: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/people-foods.aspx
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff