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What to do if your dog ingests alcohol or drugs

You make every effort to protect your pet from foods and substances that aren’t good for him, but once in a while your precious angel gets into something that can be bad for him.

We’ve talked about human foods that are toxic for dogs, but what about the unmentionables like marijuana, liquor or prescription medications?

This may come as a shock to you, but there are people out there who have marijuana (smokable and edibles) around their house. Other folks have booze or beer that might have been left unattended at a party or isn’t behind a padlock like your parents used to do (is that just me?). And then there are those people who may have a few Xanax or other prescription drugs lying around. It may not be a problem for you, but it is a problem for your dog. Just how big a problem and what you can do about it can mean the difference between life and death for your dog.

We asked Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Vet” from Dr. Oz and GMA, to help us out.

Dr. Becker says, “People waste too much time when dealing with accidental drug ingestions before getting expert veterinary advice. This is not the time to get on Google. It’s the time to call an expert. That’s why I advise all pet owners to keep their veterinarian’s and the Pet Poison Helpline’s numbers handy!”

My dog ate my weed
Image: Karen Cox/Sheknows

What do you do if your furry friend gets into your stash?

  • Luckily pot is not poisonous for dogs and is considered only moderately toxic (depending on how much was consumed).
  • My local vet, Dr. Ted, says, “In all my years, I have never seen a dog die from eating marijuana.”

So what do you do?

  • If you catch them quickly enough, induce vomiting immediately. You can do that by using hydrogen peroxide and good ole table salt (1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of dog), repeating every 15 to 20 minutes until it’s all out.
  • Did they eat a little? Then they will just be high and maybe hallucinate for a few hours. Ride it out.
  • Did they eat a lot? You should go to the vet immediately, because your dog may need care, an IV or hospitalization, since seizures are a real possibility

Remember: If your pot is an edible, it is more concentrated and thus more dangerous. Plus, humans can eat just one brownie, while the dog will eat the whole tray since they are hardwired to gorge themselves.

Best move: The minute you bring an edible or even a joint into the house, put it somewhere the dog can never get it. Experts suggest placing anything with an intense smell, like marijuana, in a glass jar and closing it tight. Aluminum foil also works to hide the odor and keep your dog from seeking it out. Or place it somewhere cold, like the freezer. That too will mask the odor and keep your dog from being curious.

My dog drank my wine
Image: Karen Cox/Sheknows

What do you do if your furry friend drinks your alcohol?

Dr. Marty says to use the baby rule when it comes to dog alcohol consumption: “It’s exactly as ‘funny’ and safe to give booze to your pets as it would be to give it to your infant.”

While alcohol is considered mildly toxic to dogs in very small doses, the presence of alcohol in foods that dogs like or its sweet taste in mixed drinks will tend to make the dog consume a larger amount if he can.


Your pet should consume zero alcohol, but if they do, booze (whiskey, vodka, gin, etc.) are the harshest and require an emergency vet visit. Wine has about 10 percent alcohol, beer 4 percent, so while they are both potentially harmful, they are not as deadly as liquor.

As in humans, when a dog drinks alcohol, it causes depression of their central nervous system. At a minimum they can become drowsy and off-balance; on the more harmful side, it can affect their heart rate and lead to a dangerous condition called metabolic acidosis.

Best move:

Pretend your dog is your child, and keep all alcoholic beverages out of reach and out of nose range. If you’re having a party, you may have to forgo having the dog be a guest, since people will put their drinks down and forget about them, but your dog may not. You can’t expect your guests to police your animal. That’s your responsibility. Keep the dog in another room, in his crate, or consider having him spend the night with a pet pal in the neighborhood.

My dog ate my pills
Image: Karen Cox/Sheknows

What do you do if your furry friend consumes your pills?

Dr. Marty wants you to know that “the No. 1 poisoning category for dogs is human drugs, primarily medications that contain Tylenol, like Percocet (OxyContin). It can be fatal. This also goes for anti-inflammatories like Advil, Motrin and Aleve, which are far more dangerous to pets than they are to humans.”


  • Sedatives often have the opposite effect on dogs that they do on humans.
  • Dosages are not equivalent simply based on relative body weight.
  • Don’t just expect your pet to “sleep it off.” Call the vet or the helpline.

Important: Dr. Marty says, “Opiates can depress the respiratory system, cause coma or death and can cause a condition known as opiate dysphoria that’s terrifying to see.”

If your pet has eaten any opiate that was not prescribed for them or in a dosage beyond what was prescribed, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline right away.

Best move:

The AVMA advises:

  • Do not leave pills sitting on a counter or anyplace a pet can get to them.
  • Do not leave pill bottles within reach of pets. (You’d be surprised how fast your dog can chew through a pill bottle.)
  • If you’re taking medications out of the bottle and you drop any of it, pick it up immediately so you know your pet won’t be able to eat it.
  • Always contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested any medication not prescribed for them.
  • Never give your medication to your pet without first consulting a veterinarian.

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