Why Dogs Don't Like Alcohol



Dogs make great companions; they are loyal, cute and, will even follow you off a cliff. The four-legged furballs love their owners unconditionally and are always around to help them finish off the last bite when they have cooked too much, licking their plates clean. However, as you might have noticed a whiff of anything fermented can send the dog running in the other direction. Needless to say, most dogs aren’t the biggest fans of alcohol and will not make great drinking buddies. Turns out there is a good reason for their aversion to anything with a percentage - alcohol is poisonous to dogs and should not be given to them under any circumstances.

The Root of the Behavior

Though some canines might be tempted to lick the sweet remains out of a wine glass, it isn’t the alcohol they are interested in. Like humans, some dogs occasionally get a sweet tooth that might prompt them to inspect the glassware. However, unlike their two-legged counterparts, dogs can be lethally poisoned by the smallest consumption of its contents. Thankfully, the majority of dogs do not like alcohol and prefer to stay away from it. Although a lot of research has been conducted on the toxicity of alcohol in regards to dogs, there are not a lot of studies out there explaining why dogs themselves don’t like alcohol. Do they just instinctively know what is bad for them and what to stay away from? It might be because our canine companions have ultra sensitive noses and the smell of alcohol is intense, so much so that many people find it unpleasant as well. Despite not having a definite answer or the ability to ask our four-legged family members directly why they don’t like alcohol, we do know why they should not like it.

Alcohol is toxic to dogs because of its main ingredients thus self-preservation can be the reason so many dogs stay away from it. The fermented grains, fruits or vegetables used to make alcohol can all be found on the list of poisonous or toxic plants and foods for dogs. Starting with wine, it is composed of grapes which along with raisins, have been well documented to cause toxic reactions in dogs. Though the exact active substance has not been identified yet, all veterinarians agree that our canine companions should not be consuming them in any amount. Even the smallest amount of grapes or raisins can lead to a lethal reaction, especially in smaller dogs. However, regardless of breed or age, no dog should be given or have access to anything grape-based, such as wine. Yeast is another substance used to make some alcohol, such as beer, which also happens to be highly toxic to dogs and even cause life-threatening complications. A dog ingesting yeast or yeast dough can end up with bloating and potentially even a deadly twist of the intestines. Yeast also produces ethanol and can cause canines to become drunk. Though that might sound fun or funny to watch for humans, for dogs it means diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death.

Encouraging the Behavior

Needless to say, pet-owners should not be encouraging their dogs to drink alcohol. More importantly, they should not allow their four-legged family members to have access to it at any time, even in small amounts. You have to remember that dogs will smell, lick, eat, or drink almost anything but that doesn’t mean it is good for them or their health. They are curious animals who will eat out of boredom and have what seems like an unsuppressible appetite for anything new. As entertaining as the idea may be of seeing your pooch get tipsy on a spoonful of your drink - don’t ever do it. By letting your dog smell or consume alcohol, you are directly putting him in danger. That type of party trick can end in liver failure, a depressed central nervous system, involuntary urination or defecation, hypothermia, and even death.

It is also important to remember that dogs are different from us physiologically. Not only are they smaller but they don’t have the same metabolism to digest foods and drinks that are not meant for their consumption. While an adult may need a couple of beers to feel the effects of intoxication, it takes much less to intoxicate and thus poison a dog, even one of a larger breed. While too much alcohol drinking can lead to a hangover for a human, a dog’s kidneys aren’t built to filter any amount of it. In fact, if your dog has ingested any amount of alcohol, even just a taste, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid further health complications. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

In addition to toxicity related to the main ingredient of the alcohol consumed, ethanol toxicosis is another reason dogs should not be allowed to ever have any alcohol. So just because it isn’t wine or beer, doesn’t mean your dog can have it. The general rule to remember is that anything with any amount of percentage is not good for your dog. Though it might be easy to remember to not give your dog alcohol, we have to consider that it can be found in many other foods and items. Rum cakes, cooking dough, fermented fruits, and sugarless chewing gum all include some amount of alcohol and should not be shared with our furry buddies.


Canines make great companions and it is not surprising that their pet-owners want to take them everywhere with them, as well as share their favorite experiences with their four-legged buddies. However, there are tons of reasons you should not be taking your pup to the pub, especially since even the smallest amount of alcohol can make him feel unwell and harm his health.