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What is Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning?

Hand sanitizer is most often made with ethanol alcohol. The levels of alcohol in hand sanitizers can reach as high as 95% alcohol in order to kill as many disease carrying germs as possible. These high levels of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning in your canine. Alcohol is a dangerous substance with serious consequences for your dog’s health and safety and effort should be made to ensure that your pet can not get into any products with ethanol alcohol as a component. If your pet does ingest a substance with high alcohol levels or is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning a call should be made to the veterinarian right away.

Hand sanitizer contains dangerously high levels of ethanol alcohol and can cause alcohol poisoning if ingested by your canine. Breathing difficulties, seizures, and even death can occur if your dog consumes this product. A veterinarian visit is imperative.

Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning Average Cost

From 57 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $12,000

Average Cost

$4,000

Symptoms of Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning in Dogs

The symptoms typically seen with the ingestion of hand sanitizer are the same as the symptoms of any other poisoning of a canine by ethanol alcohol. 

  • Behavior changes
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Collapse 
  • Coma
  • Decreased coordination
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart attack
  • Hypothermia
  • Lethargy
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Seizures
  • Smell of alcohol on breath
  • Staggering
  • Sudden death
  • Tremors
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vomiting 
  • Weakness

Types

Ethanol alcohol

This is the type of alcohol that you find in alcoholic drinks and the type of alcohol you find in most hand sanitizers as well. Dogs are much more susceptible to the toxic effects of ethanol than humans. Metabolizes into acetaldehyde in the liver. Ethanol alcohol has the shortest length of time overall for the onset of symptoms.

Ethyl glycol

This alcohol is seen mainly in antifreeze and is highly toxic, both to dogs and to humans. This is converted into glycoaldehyde by the liver and then into glycolic acid. Symptoms for this type of alcohol poisoning usually take longer to present than the other alcohols. 

Isopropanol alcohol

This is another type of alcohol that can be found in mouthwashes, antiseptic solutions, and disinfectants. Less toxic that either methanol and ethyl glycol, but more toxic than ethanol. Metabolizes into acetone in the liver. 

Methyl alcohol

This is also known as wood glue and it is chemically similar to ethanol but processes through the system somewhat differently. It can also be used in antifreeze. It is first converted into formaldehyde by the liver then into formic acid.

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Causes of Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning in Dogs

The poisonous effects from hand sanitizer are caused by the concentrated alcohol levels, occasionally as high as 95% alcohol. There are several other liquids around the household that can contain dangerous levels of ethanol, and should be kept out of reach of both pets and small children. Many of these liquids are unpalatable, but a few, such as mouthwash and cough medications, may have a pleasant enough flavor to encourage their ingestion.  

  • Aftershave
  • Air fresheners
  • Colognes
  • Cough and Cold medications
  • Disinfectants
  • Glass and window cleaner
  • Hairspray
  • Insect repellent
  • Mouthwash
  • Perfumes
  • Pet medications
  • Spray paint
  • Static guard
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Diagnosis of Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning in Dogs

Your veterinarian will need to get a verbal history from you, taking special note of the diet and any opportunistic eating as well as a progression of symptoms. If you were able to witness the ingestion of the poison or if you have any of the packaging left you should keep that available for both the phone call and the visit to the veterinary clinic. That information, combined with a physical examination will help reach a conclusive diagnosis. A complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis likely to be done at this time as well to rule out other disorders with the same symptoms, as well as detect any toxins in the system. Blood sugar results may be low and blood gas analysis usually will reveal acidosis. The test that is used to give a definitive diagnosis is the blood ethanol concentration test, which is used to test the level of alcohol in the patient’s blood.

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Treatment of Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning in Dogs

An acute case of alcohol poisoning can kill quickly, so time is of the essence if the disorder is to be corrected. If you know which product your pet ingested contact the veterinarian immediately. If ingested recently enough, your veterinarian may opt to have your dog be induced to vomit in order to avoid further absorption of any toxins before travelling to the office. Once you get to the office supportive treatment will be given for any immediate concerns including IV fluids for dehydration and combinations of electrolytes and sugars to balance out imbalances. Oxygen may also be given to the dog if breathing is becoming difficult. Your veterinarian will also give your canine activated charcoal to soak up as much of the toxic material in the patient’s stomach as possible. If your pet is going to recover from the toxicity it will usually be within eight to twelve hours from the start of treatment.

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Recovery of Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning in Dogs

Keep recovering patients in a calm and quiet environment and make sure that they complete the full measure of all of their medications in order to most effectively speed recovery. It is vital that fresh water be available for your dog at all times as alcohol poisoning often depletes the body’s water stores. Medications such as antibiotics, stomach and liver protectants, and antacids may be prescribed to combat the symptoms and prevent further infection. Dogs diagnosed with alcohol poisoning will likely need follow-up appointments to check their liver function. Prognosis depends on the amount of alcohol ingested, the weight of the dog, and the amount of time between ingestion and the commencement of treatment.

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Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning Average Cost

From 57 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $12,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Mutt

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Ten Weeks

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Unknown severity

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10 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

Puppy chewed a small hand sanitizer bottle, there was handsanitizer all over the floor but I'm not sure if he got any in his mouth. His breath doesn't smell. This is his usual bedtime so he is getting tired. no other symptoms. Will he be okay?

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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10 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . I hope that he is okay. If he is having any signs of vomiting or diarrhea, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any treatment that they might need.

Oct. 13, 2020

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Miniature Pinscher

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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None

Hi, I used hand sanitizer that contains 70% of ethyl alcohol, I wiped my large size table top with it. Is the smell bad for dogs? I have a ceiling fan on high and a table top fan, so there is ventilation. I can’t really smell it, it barely smells like it, I can just smell a hint of it, as of now, it’s been about 30 minutes. Here’s a picture of our room, and that table with the fish tank is what I wiped.

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I think if you have good ventilation, you should be fine. Unless your dog was in a very small confined space with the table and the area cleaned, everything should be okay. If you notice your dog coughing or sneezing, it may be good to have them seen by a veterinarian, but I think that they will be okay.

July 31, 2020

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Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Poisoning Average Cost

From 57 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $12,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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