Keep Your Pooch Off The Hooch! Pets + Beer

One thing I have noticed since starting at AHNA is that beer seems to be everywhere in Asheville, and there are countless breweries and beer enthusiasts around. For those of you that are brewing your own style of suds at home, we wanted to make you aware of a potential toxin for your canine companion: hops. Our favorite bittering agent might not have much appeal to us other than to flavor our IPAs, but it is sometimes interesting to our four legged friends. Ingestion of hops can lead to a malignant hyperthermia (high temperature), increased heart rate, and rapid breathing. Unfortunately, while the high body temperature can be treated if caught early, there is not an antidote that is effective in reversing the damage from hops ingestion so prevention is key. The below articles explains this in a little more depth. The other concern in Beer City is that dogs are much more susceptible to the effects of alcohol and alcohol poisoning, so make sure your pooch lays off the hooch. - Morgan Frye, DVM

Dogs + Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Hops Toxicity  (source: ASPCA)

Brewing your own beer at home, or “homebrewing”, is becoming an increasingly popular hobby. While homebrewing has been around for roughly the last 7,000 years, it’s estimated that 1.2 million people currently brew beer in their homes in the United States.  

So what does homebrewing have to do with pets?  

With the increasing popularity of homebrewing, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has seen an increase in calls concerning pets ingesting hops—a staple ingredient in most beers. For those who may not be beer aficionados, hops are the flowers from the plant Humulus Lupulus. They are primarily used as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, and may come in several forms: dried flowers, plugs or pellets. 

The hops used to make beer can actually be very dangerous for dogs. When our four-legged friends ingest hops, they can develop a significant or even life-threatening increase in their body temperature. A dog’s normal temperature is usually around 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. When dogs ingest hops, their temperature will spike over 102.5 degrees, putting them in a dangerous state. When a dog’s temperature reaches over 107 degrees, it is considered life-threatening. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter what form hops come in, or if they have been used (spent) or not—they can all be dangerous and problematic for dogs. 

Other problems seen when dogs ingest hops include panting or fast breathing, stomach upset (vomiting or diarrhea), agitation and an increase in heart rate. Symptoms can start as rapidly as 30 minutes after ingestion, but (rarely) can be delayed up to eight hours.    

The good news is, hops toxicity is treatable!   

If your dog is showing signs of hops toxicity, it is imperative you take them into a veterinary clinic immediately. The higher their temperature gets, the more dangerous their condition will become. 

At the veterinary clinic, the veterinarian will take steps to monitor and safely bring down your dog’s body temperature. If the ingestion was recent and your furry friend is not showing any symptoms yet, it is best to either call ASPC Animal Posion Control Center or your local veterinarian for the best course of action.  And, like always, keeping any brewing materials or ingredients out of paws’ reach is the best way to keep your pets safe. So if you’re brewing beer in your home, just be wary of curious noses that may be lurking just around the corner. ​

Drunk and Disorderly: Ethanol and Yeast Dough Intoxications (source: ASPCA)​

Alcoholic drinks and yeast dough both have the potential to cause toxicity in pets, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center notes that pets seem to find both quite palatable. Even though signs you’ll see from the ethanol are the same for both exposures, there can be some differences in the onset of clinical signs as well as some additional concerns.

Palatable Poison

Many dogs (and some cats) will happily lap up a cocktail that is left on the table. Parties are a very common time for pets to get into alcohol as drinks are often left unattended. The onset of action with alcoholic beverages is typically fast - within 30 minutes, potentially faster with higher dosages. The opportunity for emesis (inducing vomiting) with alcohol is often very short and is not recommended in symptomatic pets. 

Rising yeast dough (such as bread, roll, and pizza dough) is often seen as a tasty snack by pets. The yeast ferments the carbohydrates in the dough, producing carbon dioxide and ethanol. Unfortunately, this process continues in the warm, damp environment of a dog or cat’s stomach as well.

Treatment for Dough Ingestion

There are a couple of special considerations for bread dough that you won’t see when pets get into alcoholic drinks. The amount of dough ingested can be an issue. You can potentially see food bloat or even GDV, especially considering that the stomach can be distended with carbon dioxide.

With bread dough, you may see excellent emesis results (often the 1 pound dough will come up in a single lump, though there are some cases with little to no recovery of the dough with emesis). When good emesis results are obtained, there will be a much faster resolution of clinical signs.

The onset of clinical signs is much more variable with yeast dough than alcoholic drinks – it can potentially take hours to see signs of intoxication.  

Results of Ethanol Ingestion

Ethanol intoxication from either dough or drinks can cause ataxia, depression, recumbency, hypothermia, disorientation, vocalization, acidosis, tachycardia, dyspnea, aspiration pneumonia, tremors, coma and seizures.

Treatment is largely supportive and symptomatic. Aspiration is common, so antiemetics are indicated. Airway protection may also be indicated in some cases. Monitor acid base status and correct acidosis, fluid therapy for support, monitor for hypoglycemia and supplement dextrose as needed. Diazepam can be given for seizures – and some comatose pets will need ventilatory support. 

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