Homebrewers, proceed with caution—your pup can’t handle hops. The next time your brew dog joins you in the garage, be sure to keep hops and yeast well out of his/her reach.
“For many years, dogs accompanied their owners to work at Northern Brewer and freely roamed our offices,” says a post on the Northern Brewer website. “So when we heard about a customer’s scary experience after their dog consumed hops, we were shaken and wanted to help. For wider education on the issue, we would like echo a very serious warning about dogs and hops.”
That serious warning is this: Ingesting hops can be highly toxic for dogs, and even deadly. Although the mechanism of toxicity is unknown, most studies suggest it’s related to the essential oils and resins found in hops. “In some studies, it is reported that hop pellets are slightly less harmful than whole hops ingestion, but all can be fatal,” says Niki Purcell, a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Purcell explains that symptoms can be mild to severe, including restlessness, panting, vomiting, abdominal pain, seizures, rapid heart rate, and high temperature. These reactions are confirmed in an abstract from the National Institute for Biotechnology Information that also suggests greyhounds are more susceptible to hops than other breeds.
“The effects of the toxicity are a greater risk for breeds that are predisposed to malignant hyperthermia such as Greyhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Pointers, Dobermans, Border Collies, and Springer Spaniels … but any breed can be affected,” says another article in The Bark Magazine.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, yeast can also be harmful to four-legged friends. Yeast will produce ethanol after consumption, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death.
It goes without saying, but the ASPCA website explains that under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested hops, yeast, or alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately. The Bark article also suggests immediately taking a rectal temperature, “and if it is found to be greater than 105°F (40°C), begin active cooling measures—such as dousing your pet’s body with cool water and wrapping icepacks in towels and placing them over its body—in addition to running the air conditioning in the car while on your way to your veterinarian or local emergency clinic.”
“Pet Poison Helpline reports that death has occurred in as little as six hours for patients left untreated,” Purcell adds. “Get to your nearest veterinary clinic as soon as you can.” Treatment will likely consist of supportive care, decontamination, and more active cooling, Purcell says. “And these procedures can be costly. Nobody wants to see their pooch in the ER, so brew safely with your pet and save your money for more homebrew supplies.”
If you’re growing hops bines, make sure that they are in a place that is secure from your pet and look out for hops cones that may have fallen to the ground. Purcell adds, “With a little extra caution and attention to detail, though, brew day can still be shared with man’s best friend.”