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What should I do if my dog drank wine?

Jack Russell dog next to two glasses of wine advice

All alcoholic drinks can be toxic or poisonous to dogs

© Shutterstock

Just like us humans, alcohol can be harmful for dogs, so even a small amout of wine may require a trip to a vet.

By Dr. Liz Barton MA, VetMB, MRCVS

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Wine and other alcohol have the same toxic effects on dogs as they do for people. The severity of the effects will depend on the alcohol concentration and the size and age of your dog. Alcohol is very rapidly absorbed, so it is important to speak to a vet immediately after you’ve discovered that your dog has accidentally drunk wine. They will be able to advise if the amount is likely to be toxic, and may recommend seeing your dog immediately to make your dog sick and reduce the amount of alcohol absorbed.

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Is wine poisonous to dogs?

All alcoholic beverages can be toxic or poisonous to dogs. The higher the percentage of alcohol, the more toxic it is. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and can cause liver failure in the long-term.

What happens when a dog drinks alcohol?

If a dog drinks alcohol, the effects are very similar to those that people experience. Signs of intoxication include:

  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Ataxia (unsteady walking)
  • Drowsiness
  • Vocalising
  • Restlessness
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Excessive panting
  • Hypothermia
  • Coma
  • Respiratory depression.
Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

How much wine is toxic for dogs?

The severity of the effects will depend on the alcohol concentration and also the size and age of your dog. A tiny Chihuahua would need to drink very little to become intoxicated. Older or younger animals, or those with liver or kidney impairment, will be less able to clear the alcohol from the blood and be more at risk.

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How harmful is alcohol to dogs?

In the same way that alcohol can cause acute or chronic harm in humans, the same effects can be seen in dogs. Taken in large quantities, alcohol can be acutely fatal due to respiratory depression and coma. If alcohol is ingested over a period of time, it can lead to liver failure. Yet a small amount of alcohol drunk once only should not cause any lasting ill effects.

If a pregnant or lactating dog has ingested alcohol, seek immediate advice from a vet. Fetal alcohol syndrome is known to cause serious lifelong effects in human babies, as alcohol can cross the placenta. It can also pass into the milk. The vet may advise treatment such as a drip to reduce risk to the puppies.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

Is it an emergency if my dog drank wine?

As alcohol is rapidly absorbed, the sooner you contact a vet, the better. If your dog has licked a small amount, it is unlikely to cause any ill effects. But a glass of wine for a small dog would be a significant amount of alcohol and could lead to toxicity. A vet will be able to advise what course of action is best and whether treatment is necessary. They may advise you to give your dog plenty of food and water, and monitor your pet at home. Or they may recommend that they see your dog immediately for treatment.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

How can I prevent my dog from drinking alcohol?

It’s important never to leave alcohol near a dog unsupervised. Place glasses and bottles out of the way, and if any wine is spilled clean it up immediately. Keep wine and spirits in a cupboard, or on a shelf out of reach. Your dog may be enticed by the sweet smells e.g. from drips on spirit bottles, which could cause them to nose around and lead to accidental breaking of bottles.

When should I call a vet?

It’s best to speak to a vet immediately if you know or suspect your dog has drunk wine or alcohol of any kind. The rapid absorption means the effects are seen quickly– usually within an hour – so if you have several dogs it should become apparent which of them are affected. The majority of dogs will recover with treatment, but they may require hospitalisation and intensive care if they are suffering severe toxic effects.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

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Ask for advice

Worried about your pet?

Speak to a qualified vet online, from the comfort of your home