Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol)  Poisoning in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol)  Poisoning in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning?

Because isopropanol based poisoning can be severe to your dog, the best course of action is to take him to the veterinary clinic immediately. The sooner your vet can help your dog, the better. The poison can be ingested from licking spilled liquids such as household products like alcohol based detergents, antifreeze, and spilled alcoholic drinks. Even overuse of some topical flea sprays and shampoos containing isopropanol alcohol could cause severe reactions in your pet. It is the isopropanol based products that produce severe and sometimes fatal results.

When your dog ingests isopropanol based alcohol it is absorbed rapidly, is especially toxic to your dog, and can produce life threatening symptoms within thirty minutes.

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Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning Average Cost

From 459 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog has ingested large amounts of isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) based products the effects will begin to show almost immediately, usually within 30 minutes. These symptoms include:

  • Disorientation and loss of body control
  • Your dog may appear weak 
  • He may begin to vomit violently 
  • Diarrhea will occur as your dog’s body tries to rid itself of the poison 
  • He may salivate excessively sometimes foaming at the mouth
  • Excitement gives way to lethargy and depression
  • Difficulty with breathing 
  • If symptoms are severe, he may lose consciousness 
  • He may have seizures and suffer heart rhythm problems 

Types  

  • Isopropanol poisoning works to depress the nervous system and is a highly potent poison to your dog
  • Your dog can get toxic effects just by inhaling vapors from it, or your pet can get poisoned by skin applications with sanitizers, cleaning products and skin lotions
  • Make sure you read the ingredient labels on any products you purchase for your pet
  • Isopropanol is twice as toxic as ethanol 
  • Methanol poisoning is another alcohol that can produce similar symptoms and can be found in antifreeze
  • Ethanol poisoning comes from ingesting human alcoholic drinks such as beer and spirits; it is also in medications like cough syrup (for human consumption)
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Causes of Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning in Dogs

  • Alcohol reacts quickly within your dog’s body, being absorbed almost immediately
  • Poisoning can come from ingesting the substance or through the skin as in the case of some flea sprays or topical shampoos 
  • When alcohol is processed by the liver it changes the structural form of the alcohol
  • Ethanol becomes acetaldehyde, methanol becomes formaldehyde (often used in science to preserve body parts) and isopropanol becomes acetone (similar to nail polish remover for humans)
  • Alcohol irritates the gastric mucosa and is the trigger for vomiting
  • If your dog vomits excessively it can lead to dehydration due to lack of fluids
  • The nervous system goes into shock and secondary conditions such as hypothermia and hypoglycemia can set in
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Diagnosis of Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning in Dogs

The priority after you become aware that your dog may be suffering poisoning, is to take your dog to the veterinarian clinic as soon as you can. If you can take a sample of what your dog was exposed to (the flea spray or skin lotion) it will help your veterinary caregiver understand what he is dealing with. Your dog may be quite distressed especially if he cannot control his movements, so give plenty of reassurance. The caregiver will take your pet’s vital signs to check the heart rate for abnormalities, his breathing, and a blood test to indicate the level of alcohol in the blood. Your veterinary team will want to know how long it has been since your pet was affected, before they move on with treating your dog. If your dog has had large amounts of isopropyl alcohol you may even smell it on your pet’s breath.

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Treatment of Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning in Dogs

The most important thing is to get your pet stabilised. The veterinary team may induce vomiting to clear the poison if it is within a few hours of when your dog was exposed to the alcohol. One of the effects of this poisoning is that your dog’s body temperature will drop to dangerously low levels and he may suffer from breathing difficulties and low blood sugar. It is important to address these issues as quickly as possible to bring your pet’s system back to normal. Depending on the dose and severity of symptoms, your veterinarian team may need to pump your dog’s stomach to remove the substance, and provide intubation to enable him to breathe clearly and to protect the airway. 

Your dog will be treated with drugs to control the symptoms. Activated charcoal may be administered which absorbs the poisons, but a lot depends on the size of your dog, the amount of substance taken, and the time since the exposure occurred. If your dog suffered through dermal (skin) application, the team may gently wash your dog with a gentle product to remove the substance left on the skin. If your dog becomes very dehydrated, your veterinarian may treat with intravenous fluids to help to hydrate him. Isopropyl alcohol poisoning is very serious, and recovery depends on extent of the poisoning, the size of your dog, and the time lapse before treatment.

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Worried about the cost of Isopropyl Alcohol Isopropanol Poisoning treatment?

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Recovery of Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning in Dogs

Alcohol poisoning recovery will take your dog time. Your pet’s system will have been affected profoundly in severe cases and will need care and attention at home in order to restore him to good health. He may have to be hospitalised until his condition is stable before he returns home.  With mild cases, your dog may return to normal within a few days. Your pet will appreciate a quiet, comfortable bed in which to rest and recover. The veterinarian may continue the medication and you will be advised on how best to get your dog to take it. Dietary needs will probably be simple and bland for your pet when he first gets home, but as he heals you will be able to slowly increase the amounts as his appetite returns. Plenty of fresh cool water should be available to keep your friend hydrated. Prevention is the best option, make sure anything containing any type of alcohol is stored well out of reach and securely behind doors in the future.

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Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning Average Cost

From 459 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$800

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Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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bully

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One Year

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16 found helpful

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16 found helpful

Has Symptoms

I didn’t know alcohol was toxic to dogs and used it to try and remove a bandage on his skin. It’s 70%

Jan. 1, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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16 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you used rubbing alcohol on your dog's skin, that should not be a problem as long as there was not a large amount and your dog did not eat a lot of it. A small amount is not toxic.

Jan. 1, 2021

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American Bulldog

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Ten Years

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6 found helpful

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6 found helpful

Has Symptoms

High Kidney Values

Recently my dog Bear has had increased values in his kidneys. I use rubbing alcohol when he is not in his groin and paws. More frequent to the time of year. He also has Cushings disease. So he is warmer than normal. At 107 lbs I don't like to see him distressed with heat and breathing. Am I using the alcohol to frequent and could it have some effect on his kidneys? I've been misting him before walks,taking tests and don't walk him when it too hot outside. The photo provided he was able to self cool with fan and pad at his bed.

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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6 Recommendations

Hello, This could have some effect but he would have to lick this up to cause damage to his kidneys. YOu can try cooling rags or cooling pads to help keep him cool. Older dogs do tend to have increased kidney values as they get older.

July 26, 2020

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Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) Poisoning Average Cost

From 459 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$800

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