Dogs + Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Hops Toxicity

July 12, 2018

dog on a chair next to a man with a beer

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 APCC 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.