An animal shelter in England is experiencing a heartbreaking “first”: One of its newest canine residents is said to be undergoing canine alcohol withdrawal.
Coco, a young dog believed to be a spaniel and chocolate lab mix, arrived at the Woodside Animal Welfare Trust in Plymouth, England, earlier this year along with another “canine pal” after his owner died. But soon after they arrived, they both became “quickly unwell,” the shelter wrote on Facebook. Both dogs started to suffer from “fits,” and while a vet was able to provide emergency care, Coco’s companion died.
“Coco continued to be seriously unwell and required round the clock care. It became clear that he was suffering from symptoms that all pointed to alcohol withdrawal,” the shelter said. “He spent four weeks sedated to help with his withdrawal symptoms and to reduce the risk of further fits.”
On April 4, the shelter said that now, Coco is “out of danger” and has weaned off his medication. While he’s starting to act more normally, he’s not yet ready for adoption, they said, adding that “he is still very anxious at times.”
“No-one knows the specifics on how these dogs got into the situation with alcohol but we do know that without our care Coco would likely have not survived this heartbreaking ordeal,” the shelter said.
Cora, who works at the Trust, told Newsweek that it’s “very unusual” for their shelter to see alcohol issues among dogs and said that Coco had become “dependent” on the substance.
According to the American Kennel Club, dogs have a similar reaction to alcohol as humans, although the impact of drinking it is usually “mild.”
“Dogs should never drink beer brewed for humans,” the AKC says. “Beer contains alcohol, and alcohol is toxic for dogs. Even a little beer can cause alcohol poisoning, especially if the dog is small.”
If dogs do consume alcohol, the ASPCA says that they could experience a number of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, tremors or even death.
“Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol,” the organization says.