Can Golden Retrievers Drink Wine? (Is it Safe?)


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I quickly learned with my Golden Retriever that I have to be diligent about what I leave unattended, as some foods and drinks can be potentially harmful. Alcoholic drinks are one of the beverages I’m concerned about, especially wine since it is a drink that we often serve for guests.

Golden Retrievers should not drink wine. Wine is made with alcohol and grapes, which can be toxic to Golden Retrievers. Specifically, a dog’s liver cannot effectively process alcohol, so the wine can cause alcohol poisoning, while grape toxicity can cause renal failure.

The sunglasses are cool for Golden Retrievers. Wine is not.

The good news is, like beer, most dogs find the smell and taste of wine disgusting. But, just because they find it repulsive doesn’t mean that a Golden Retriever might not lick some up if it is available. 

Golden Retrievers are curious dogs, and they watch us when we consume stuff. They assume if we eat and drink it, then it must be good, and often they might be inclined to try it as a result. 

So, let’s take a deep dive into why wine and Golden Retrievers are a terrible combination. 

Why Is Wine Dangerous for a Golden Retriever?

Not all alcoholic beverages are created equal. While all alcoholic drinks are bad for a Golden Retriever, some are even more so. 

Take beer, for example. Beer is potentially dangerous to a Golden Retriever due to the alcohol. But, beer also contains hops, which are potentially toxic to a Golden Retriever.

So, beer is a double whammy alcoholic drink. 

Now, not to be outdone, wine is also a double whammy alcoholic drink for the same reason as beer. It contains two toxic substances: alcohol and grapes.

Alcohol

The first substance found within the wine that is toxic to dogs is alcohol. Alcohol is a big issue for dogs because a dog’s liver cannot break down alcohol. And that is bad, very bad. 

All alcohol is potentially toxic to dogs, including wine

Contrast that with humans, where the liver processes 90% plus of alcohol. So the remaining alcohol in the blood is what makes us intoxicated.

However, because a Golden Retriever’s liver cannot process alcohol, the alcohol remains in the blood. As a result, a dog will become intoxicated very rapidly.

In addition, the alcohol remaining in the blood will quickly and permanently damage the liver. 

However, there’s another factor. Because a typical human is much larger than a Golden Retriever, the alcohol will affect us less quickly.

It is the same reason women typically get intoxicated quicker than men – less weight and less muscle mass. 

So with a Golden Retriever, you have a smaller size and weight, with no ability to process the alcohol from the wine. Instead, it remains in the bloodstream, intoxicating the animal quickly.

As we’ll discuss in more detail below, alcohol will swiftly and directly affect the central nervous system (CNS). 

When humans continually drink more and more alcohol (alcohol poisoning), the CNS becomes highly depressed. Our breathing and heart rates slow, and our body temperature drops. 

So, that can be very bad for a 165-pound man, but for a 65 pound Golden Retriever, that can be rapid and often fatal toxicity.

If a Golden Retriever is very young and small (such as a puppy) or very old, their bodies cannot deal with such toxicity. Especially puppies that are so small, with organs that are still developing. 

Another potential danger is if your Golden Retriever has any pre-existing health issues. For example, the stress from a pre-existing health problem compounded by alcohol poisoning from wine could be too much for a dog to recover from.

Grapes

Remember I said wine has two harmful substances. We have only discussed alcohol as being the first. The other is grapes

Wine is made from grapes, which are potentially deadly to a Golden Retriever. Whereas alcohol affects a dog’s liver and CNS, grapes affect a dog’s kidneys. 

Wine is made from grapes, which are toxic to Golden Retrievers

Researchers have not definitively determined what compound in grapes is so toxic to Golden Retrievers and why. Moreover, researchers have not established what dose of grapes is toxic to Golden Retrievers. 

As far as I know, there have been no studies published on if grapes in wine are still toxic to dogs after fermenting. However, until that is known you should consider that they are, and err on the side of caution.

If you’re interested in reading why grapes are so bad for Golden Retrievers, you can learn about that in this post: The Golden Retriever’s Kryptonite: Why Are Grapes So Bad?

How Much Wine is Safe for A Golden Retriever? 

If you’re wondering how much wine is safe for a Golden Retriever, consider the answer zero. 

As discussed in the previous section, wine has two potentially toxic ingredients: alcohol and grapes. The former affects the liver and CNS, the latter the kidneys as in renal failure. Both can happen rapidly. 

The other issues are size, age, and health status. 

So taken as a whole, we don’t know what dose is the poison. Maybe a sip of wine is too much, or perhaps the dog can drink half a glass with minor issues. 

Now, here’s another issue with wine. Typically, wine has more alcohol than beer.

Consider the table below. The table illustrates that 12 ounces of beer typically has about 4 to 6% alcohol (ethanol by volume), whereas 5 ounces of wine has about 10% and up to 20%.

Type of Alcohol Serving Size% ETHANOL BY VOLUME
Light beer12 Ounces2.5–3.5
Beer12 Ounces4–6
Ale12 Ounces 5–8
Wine5 ounces 10–20

So, what that means is it takes far less wine to be potentially dangerous than it does beer because wine has a much higher concentration of ethanol by volume. 

The amount of ethanol needed to cause intoxication varies depending on its concentration in the substance ingested. For example, wine has more than beer, a lot more. 

In dogs, the lethal oral dose is 5.5 to 7.9 g/kg of 100% ethanol. One milliliter of ethanol is equal to 0.789 g.

For practical purposes, you should consider any amount of wine to be potentially poisonous to your dog.

Symptoms of Toxicity From Wine and Grapes

So, you suspect or know that your Golden Retriever has ingested wine. Maybe it was only a few sips, or perhaps it lapped up the whole glass.

If the wine is causing toxicity issues from the alcohol, you will typically see all or some of the following symptoms:  

  • Depression of the central nervous system: lethargic and slow-moving 
  • Uncoordinated – has difficulty standing or walking, may stumble or shake
  • Confusion
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting or retching
  • Increased urination
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Decreased respiratory rate (breathing slows)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)

If alcohol poisoning is present, you can expect to see the first signs within 15 to 30 minutes. However, depending on the size of your Golden Retriever and variables such as age and health status, it could be sooner or later. 

Wine has the potential to poison your Golden Retriever

Also, how much is critical. The more the dog has ingested, the greater likelihood of issues. 

Consider how frightening that must be for your Golden Retriever if it has ingested alcohol and is now experiencing intoxication and toxicity. 

They do not understand that they are intoxicated and that their health and life are at risk. 

But, to compound the potential severity of wine is grapes. Whereas the alcohol may have little effect if the amount was small, grapes can be an entirely different story. 

As noted before, we don’t know with grapes what dose is poison for your Golden Retriever. So, you may dodge the bullet with alcohol toxicity, but your dog may fall victim to grape toxicity. 

If grapes from the wine cause issues, then symptoms may include: 

  • Vomiting with 24 hours of ingestion
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness and reluctance to move
  • Diarrhea
  • The abdomen will be tender to the touch (abdominal pain)
  • Dehydration 
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination

Whereas alcohol symptoms may show within 15 to 30 minutes, symptoms from grape ingestion can begin within 24 to 48 hours when kidney damage has already started. Once kidney damage begins, the dog will show excessive thirst, urination, abdominal pain, lethargy, and diarrhea. 

From there, it only gets worse. Once urination stops, then the prognosis is dire. 

Because alcohol and grapes are both toxins to Golden Retrievers, it is possible to see an overlap of symptoms.

But beware that if your Golden Retriever has ingested wine, it may not be out of the woods if symptoms don’t manifest relatively quickly. Toxicity from grapes may not appear for a day or two.

Next, we discuss what you need to do if your Golden Retriever has ingested wine. 

What Should I Do if My Golden Retriever Drinks Wine? 

Whoops, you spilled a glass of wine, and while you’re getting a paper towel to wipe up the mess, your Golden Retriever has lapped it up. Now what? 

The first thing you need to do is call your veterinarian. Do not attempt to induce vomiting without first talking to your veterinarian.

Depending on the amount consumed, your veterinarian will ask that you bring your dog in for an examination. Or, with smaller amounts, they may suggest you monitor the dog to see if symptoms manifest. 

If it was a sip or two, your veterinarian may take a wait or see approach. However, if it was more than that or you have no idea how much was consumed, your vet will most likely ask that you bring your dog in immediately. 

Call your vet or take your Golden Retriever to the pet hospital if you suspect wine poisoning

However, if you feel uncomfortable and prefer to have your dog examined as soon as possible to ensure it will be fine, communicate that to your vet. In the case of wine, especially if it was over a sip or two, it’s better safe than sorry. 

Alternately, suppose you have a 24-hour emergency pet hospital in your area.

In that case, you can pack up the dog and take it directly there. First, however, make sure you call the emergency clinic so that they can expect your arrival. 

Treatment for Toxicity if Your Golden Retriever Ingested Wine

Your veterinarian will most likely do a quick exam to check for the emergence of any symptoms. In addition, the veterinarian may have blood drawn for a blood panel to test kidney function and other markers.

If the wine is consumed within two hours or less, the vet may induce vomiting. The vet may do this even if the dog is showing no symptoms.

The goal of inducing vomiting is to remove the toxins. The longer toxins are in the stomach, the longer they can release poison into the bloodstream.  

If your dog is showing symptoms, your vet will quickly work to stabilize the dog. Alcohol poisoning causes dangerously low body temperature, respiratory distress, and low blood sugar, so your vet will work to address those immediately. 

Intravenous fluids will be administered. Reintroducing fluids aids the dog’s kidneys and helps get urination back to normal. It also addresses dehydration which often accompanies alcohol toxicity. 

Other medications may be administered to support the kidneys and address low blood pressure and seizures. A breathing tube may need to be inserted if the symptoms have progressed and your dog’s respiratory rate has fallen dangerously low. 

Is It Okay To Give a Golden Retriever a Sip of Wine?

No, it is never okay to give your Golden Retriever a sip of wine. Not to sound like a broken record, but the dose is the poison, and that specific dose is unknown with wine. 

As a result, any amount of wine has the potential to cause harm to your dog. So allowing your Golden Retriever to ingest wine, even a sip, could put its health at risk.

Moreover, your Golden Retriever cannot give consent or say “no, thank you.” 

Preventing a Golden Retriever From Ingesting Wine

Prevention is better than the cure. So, let’s end with some tips to ensure your Golden Retriever never gets into your wine. 

  • Like with children, you want to keep all wine out of reach from your dog. By securely storing your wine where your dog cannot get to it, you prevent it from knocking it over or getting into due to curiosity. 
  • Do not leave your wine unattended. If you need to go to the washroom or leave the room, take your glass with you or place it somewhere, your dog cannot get to it. Wine is drunk from a glass, and that’s relatively easy for a dog to knock over or drink from. 
  • If you have any leftover wine because you or a guest did not finish it pour it down the sink. Make sure any remaining wine in the bottle is sealed and put away. 
  • Here’s an important one. Let guests know that wine can put your Golden Retriever’s health at risk. Advise them of the potential for not only alcohol poisoning but also grape toxicity. 
  • If you’re having a large gathering such as a party, and you won’t be able to monitor your dog around all the guests, then put your dog in a secure area away from guests. Or leave him with a sitter or dog daycare.  
  • Accidents happen. If you or someone in the house spills, some leave the spill and move your dog to someplace safe immediately. Once the dog is secured away from the spill, you can clean it up. The few seconds it takes to put your dog someplace safe will not make a big difference in removing a wine stain. It will, however, make a big difference to your Golden Retrieves health and well-being. 
Remove your Golden Retriever from the room before cleaning up a wine spill

Final Thoughts

While it is acceptable for us humans to enjoy a glass or two of wine, for our Golden Retrievers, it is not okay in ANY amount.

Wine contains two toxic substances: alcohol and grapes. Further compounding the issues is some dogs can be more sensitive to these substances than others.

And, so while a sip or two of wine may not cause harm for one dog, that may not be true for your Golden Retriever.

As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your Golden Retriever safe. So, save the wine for your human friends. 

Hold Up. Do you need a dog training program for your Golden Retriever? I bought and compared some of the most popular online dog training programs to determine the best ones. You can read my review and recommendations here: Online Dog Training Programs: These Are The Ones To Buy

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