A Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine reader recently asked us the following question:
I heard somewhere that hops are poisonous for dogs. Is this true?
Yes, unfortunately hops can be quite dangerous if ingested by dogs and, more rarely, cats. Compounds in the hops can cause a malignant hyperthermia, which results in a rapid rise of body temperature. A dog’s body temperature, which is normally below 102°F (40°C), can rapidly rise to 108°F (42°C) or higher, potentially resulting in permanent damage to the organs and brain or even death.
The exact quantity of hops fatal to dogs is not known, and some breeds, such as greyhounds, retrievers, Saint Bernards, pointers, Dobermans, border collies, and English springer spaniels, are more susceptible to hops poisoning. For practical purposes, you should consider any quantity of hops to be poisonous to your dog.
If your dog ingests hops, he can develop the following symptoms (in addition to a rapid rise in body temperature): redness around the mouth, excessive panting, excitement, abdominal pain, seizures, and rapid heart rate. These symptoms may occur anywhere between 30 minutes and 12 hours after the dog consumes the hops.
Treatment includes cooling the dog, induced vomiting, charcoal, and efforts to clean its digestive track. If you think your dog has ingested hops, try to cool it as much as possible and immediately take it to a veterinarian or animal hospital for treatment. Only a doctor can properly treat a pet for hops poisoning.
Obviously, prevention is the best course of action, so if you own a dog or cat or have other pets in the neighborhood, you should take care to bag and properly dispose of your spent or old hops. You should never mix spent hops with your grains and add them to a compost pile where animals may gain access to them.
If you have a question for the experts or want to share your expertise, email us at [email protected] or visit our website at beerandbrewing.com.