New Years Eve (alcohol poisoning) Dr Stephen Cutter B.V.Sc(hons)
New years eve is commonly celebrated with parties and in certain parties people think its funny to get the pet drunk. Itís certainly not funny, dogs and cats are much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than humans and even small amounts can be fatal.
Ethanol toxicity is seen more often in dogs than in cats, because dogs are more eager to please and so more easily persuaded to try something new or unusually. Additionally dogs are more likely to steal from unattended drinks.
The signs of alcohol poisoning are similar in pets to people and with in as little as 15 minutes the pet can be drunk - staggering, excitement, dopiness and aggression are all common. As the problem gets worse, the pet may become depressed, their breathing may slow and ultimately they may die of a cardiac arrest. Pets take much longer to detoxify the alcohol and take a lot longer to recover if they survive. Their hangover can last days.
Emergency veterinary treatment is usually necessary for affected pets, you cannot rely on them getting over it. Prevention is, however, best. Be aware of the potential problem and keep alcoholic beverages out of your pets' reach and keep a sharp eye on friends who may have been drinking and want to share their party cheer.
If itís possible your pet has ingested alcohol it is important to be up front about it with the vet, the amount of time that is wasted by people denying the reason for the pets illness can lead to the pets treatment being delayed and the pet becoming worse.
Obviously other substances available at some parties are not safe for your pets either and can also make them critically ill. If you do indulge this new years (or any time of the year) remember to make sure your pets are safe.