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Hops and Dogs

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Here’s a friendly notification to all brewers who own dogs:

If a dog eats hops it can be fatal!

A study conducted by the National Animal Poison Control Center, University of Illinois in Urbana in 1995 showed this to be true. Of the eight dogs, seven were Greyhounds, one was a Labrador Retriever, all cases were fatal. The dogs had ingested spent hops. Dogs are attracted to the sweet wort covering the hops.   Cases of dogs eating raw hops and getting sick or dieing have been reported on brewing forums, but this appears to be rare and no studies have been done.

dogs and hops

When a dog eats hops the onset of Malignant Hyperthermia occurs. Not to be confused with hypothermia, hyperthermia means the dog’s body overheats uncontrollably (2 degrees Fahrenheit every five minutes). The dog will begin panting heavily, display a rapid heart rate, and may have muscle spasms. This page has a report on how a dog was treated by a veterinarian in 2002 for such an incident: https://www.bme.ogi.edu/~ericwan/DOG/hops.html.

Types of dogs that have been impacted:

  • Greyhound
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever

Other breeds are likely susceptible to hops toxicity.

The best way to prevent against a dog eating hops is not to compost the spent hops or trub. Put the spent hops and trub in the trash or down the garbage disposal. Another approach is to setup a composting box so the dog can’t get into it.

When it comes to growing hops, if you want to be extra careful, plant them in an area the dog is not allowed in. If your dog is a digger or chewer pay extra attention to where the vines are planted. Also be careful during harvest when the cones are being collected and potentially dropped on the ground. A relative of mine has a dog and grows two hop vines in the back yard. This particular dog has an addiction to playing fetch and has never shown an interest in the vines or the hops.

  1. 16 Responses to “Hops and Dogs”

  2. Thanks for the reminder, will spread the word on my blog.

    By Simon on May 12, 2010

  3. Here is my story:

    My 65 lb, mixed breed dog is currently spending the night at the emergency vet after ingesting spent hop pellets that i was using as compost in my garden.

    Last night I brewed a batch, and when i was done spread the spent hops and grains in my garden. This morning my wife got up before me and let the dog out around 9am. She left home to run errands before I got up. When I did get up I noticed the dog was lying around being a bit lethargic and panting excessively. We hadn’t made it out for our walk the day before, so I figured he might need some exercise. We went for a walk and he had a BM that was a bit loose and slightly greenish. We came home and he laid back down and continued the panting. This was around 1pm.

    My wife came home around 2pm and took notice of the fact that he was panting and not acting like himself. At this point she told me that he had gotten into something in the garden. I started to make the connection between his symptoms and him getting into the garden where I had just dumped the spent hops, but since he has eaten many odd things in the two years we’ve had him I figured it would run through his system eventually just like everything else had before.

    At about 4:30-5 the panting had gotten heavier and his ears were hot. He couldn’t seem to cool off, and was unable to relax. If you’ve had a dog you can look in their face and tell that something is wrong. I looked online and got concerned after reading about hops causing hyperthermia: the symptoms seemed to fit so we took him to the emergency vet. They called animal poison control who CONFIRMED THAT HOPS ARE TOXIC TO DOGS. It was too late to induce vomiting they told me so they would try to flush out what they could and keep him overnight.

    I just got off the phone at 10pm with the vet and my dog is not out of the woods yet. They have administered an IV and catheter and are monitoring him. Temperature is still high, and heart rate is fast.

    Not that its about money, but I’ve already spent $1200, and expect to spend more to get him through this.

    Apparently some breeds are more susceptible to suffering adverse effects from ingesting hops. REGARDLESS, YOU SHOULD ASSUME HOPS ARE TOXIC FOR YOUR DOG.

    By andy on Jan 16, 2011

  4. Wow Andy. Thank you for the detailed story. Hopefully this reaches others and they can learn the easy way. We really hope your dog pulls through!

    By Larry on Jan 17, 2011

  5. Wish I had known before, my dog got into it tonight, too. Plus dark chocolate, not too much though. We noticed her panting and I just instinctively knew something is not right. I induced vomiting (hydrogenperoxide) and gave her two activated charcoals and she is seemingly ok. It took a couple of hours to get her panting to stop but she is now walking around and her breathing is normal now. She is a German Shorthair. I am spreading the word now for sure!!

    By Antje Carlson on Feb 2, 2011

  6. What kind of beer were you brewing, and IPA? Your dog must have eaten a fair amount of hops. Although there is no LD50 for hops there is some data for the hop acids, alpha acids, beta acids and isoalpha acids. Also, the larger the animal, the larger the LD50. For rabbits, the LD50 for hop acids is 1g per Kg body weight for rats it’s about 0.5 grams. That means your 65 pound dog had to eat at least~ 30 grams of hops.

    By hopdoc on Mar 21, 2011

  7. > the larger the animal, the larger the LD50

    Not necessarily. Dogs probably have an allergy or adverse reaction to hops, and it might not even be the hop acids that kill them.

    For reference, 30 grams = 1 ounce. Most recipes call for more hops than that.

    Better safe than sorry on this issue!

    By Larry on Mar 26, 2011

  8. Thank you all for a heads up! Whether fatal or not I’d hate to sicken my pup over spent hops or hop droppings – BTW, I have an Italian Greyhound who likes to eat all kinds of crap, hop plants AND a recently added compost pile (thought I’d be greener…) now for some chicken wire;)

    By E. on Jul 6, 2011

  9. Thank you for posting this. It happened to us with our Golden Retriever!! We have tried to post on every forum we know of buy my mom just sent me a link to this one. Our dog ate spent hops out of the yard (my husband usually threw them in the garbage but his friend was helping him this day and threw them in the yard) and the next morning our dog was panting uncontrollably. I knew something was not right and asked if she could have gotten into anything when he was brewing beer. We looked it up online, and sure enough. fatal. We immediately took her to the vet and they had to call poison control in our county and drive to go get a shot for her. She made it a couple more hours before having a heart attack. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to us and I suggest if you have a dog and brew beer, keep them away from hops and everything else. Assume it is fatal for all dogs and dont think that since your dog has eaten all kinds of crazy things before they will be fine. Ours had eaten 12 dried starfish before and survived. PLEASE, dont make the same mistake we did because it will cause you your best friend! :(

    By Jenalee Bolen on Nov 29, 2011

  10. Wow! I hope that all of your pups are ok. Great post. Consider me warned.

    By John-John on Mar 9, 2012

  11. Thanks for all the information and for your stories! I just called to cancel my rhizome order as I have two pups at the house, and I could envision at least one of them getting into the vines (or fallen fruit) at some point no matter how well I tried to block it off. Couldn’t imagine losing either of the pups, and it’s just not worth taking the risk. Thanks again!

    By Matt on Apr 24, 2012

  12. Good to know we are saving lives here!!! Some people purposefully trash their spent hops instead of recycle them in the compost pile.

    By Larry on Apr 24, 2012

  13. This is why I believe most people shouldn’t have dogs, they are way too lacadaisical about them. I’ve grown up with them and have two, and if you do not educate yourself BEFOREHAND on what a dog requires to live a full and healthy life and are not prepared to exercise them properly and look after them for their entire lifetime, you have no business getting one. MANY common garden plants are toxic to dogs, really, what planet are you people from. You talk about your dogs as if they’re some sort of casual possession or accessory. I am an avid gardener and don’t plant anything potentially dangerous to my dogs, and I haven’t had a vet bill for sicknesses or emergencies in over 40 years. I have had a dog killed by a drunk driver, which illustrates the usual culprit, a stupid human.

    By Randall on Jun 7, 2012

  14. @Randall: There are far more productive ways to help educate people about the need to do research rather than coming onto a site and blasting the majority of dog owners for being lazy because they didn’t research every single plant that they put into their yards or gardens. It seems ironic to me that you’re casting judgment on people for being lazy when you are doing the exact same thing. You are sitting on your high horse preaching about people not educating themselves but have you taken the time to educate yourself about the people and their plight you’re so quickly to chastise? Here is an example of me being lazy and not taking the time to educate myself about your nature: based upon your statements I feel you grossly lack empathy and compassion to understand others situations and chose to remain ignorant and indifferent about them to fulfill your egotistical inference that you are better than others.

    Can you see how easy it is for someone to interpret what you say into something that isn’t what you meant? Maybe you don’t realize this but you come across as a judgmental and arrogant (insert synonym for donkey) when you criticize people the way you did. It’s very counterproductive. By the way, it’s spelled ‘lackadaisical’ And yes, I realize the irony in my criticizing comments to you…

    @OP & the rest that shared their stories; Thank you! I for one appreciate all the responses and do not feel the same way ‘Randall’ does that most dog owners are lazy and do not care about their dogs. I thought I was being careful to protect my dogs but I was mistaken. I’m a firm believer that as long as you learn from your mistakes and make a concentrated effort not to repeat them, even uninformed actions can be forgiven. For me the next step is to help educate others and that is why I am here.

    My Story:

    I too had an incident where my boxer got into the compost pile that is normally gated off but sadly I left the gate open by accident one afternoon. I have no idea how much he ingested. I noticed one person had questioned what type of beer had been brewed so here is that info: 30 gallon all grain pale ale with about 9oz Cascade pellet hops in the boil.

    We didn’t notice any symptoms for 3-4 hours based upon when I later determined he got into the compost. The first thing we noticed was that he wasn’t getting up to follow us around the house like he and our Boston Terrier normally do but we didn’t think too much of it at the time. What stood out as a red flag was how lethargic he was at dinner time compared to his normal bouncing/hyper reaction to dinner time. He ate dinner just fine but about an hour after dinner he vomited and in that vomit was a green substance… My wife noticed that it wasn’t grass which he sometimes ingests too much of and makes him vomit so she asked me to take a look at it. That is when I thought of the compost and the hops but I mistakenly assumed it was some of the rotting food scraps that had made him sick. I went out to investigate the compost and there were signs of it being disturbed from when I had put the grain and hops in there the day prior. I kept a close eye on him throughout the rest of the evening and into the early hours of the morning but he did not show any other signs other than being lethargic so I went to bed about 5:00am (yes, I’m a night-owl). Around 8:00am when my wife fed the dogs (we have 3 total) he didn’t want to eat much and was even more lethargic (compared to his normal behavior, not other dogs). My wife woke me up because she was worried and wanted me to check him out. That was when I noticed he was jaundice so I decided to take him into the vet. The vet that we normally take him to did not have the necessary equipment to perform blood analyses so I was referred to another vets office that did.

    The vet in the second place wanted to do a full evaluation so I agreed and as part of that evaluation she was quizzing me on what all transpired before he got sick and wrote down a list of what was in the compost. She then went off to do research while the blood was being prepared for analyses. She found that hops were the only thing could be toxic in certain breeds and she started treating him for that right away. After the blood analyses was done, it reaffirmed her assessment and she continued on course for treating the hop toxicity. I do not recall the specific names of the levels as it was several months ago now but some of them were so high that their blood analyses equipment displayed an error. She expressed concern because she hadn’t ever seen a dog have that high of those specific levels before. She sent the blood off to another lab to have a second analyses performed to make sure there wasn’t something wrong with their equipment or their equipment missed something important. She got the results back later that day and it wasn’t anything wrong with their equipment, the levels were extremely high. They kept him overnight and continued testing his ‘levels’ throughout the night and to their amazement he had improved much faster than they would have ever expected. He had improved so much by the next morning that I was able to take him home around 1:00pm.

    I have been meaning to talk to the vet again that treated him to get detailed info about how she treated him and what the specific levels were so I could share that but I’ve been preoccupied for a while with preparing to start a brewery… I no longer compost the spent hops and I have them hauled away in the yard waste bin the county provides to collect for their anaerobic digester/methane production facility.

    By Roger Dodger on Jun 19, 2012

  15. @Randall
    I will tell you what I take from your post…you are exactly the same as the people you claim should not have dogs. You say you have had one dog killed by a drunk driver “which illustrates the usual culprit, a stupid human.” It is sad that you don’t realize that you are the stupid human in that case. If you were so responsible about your dog it would not have been in the road in the first place. Or maybe the drunk driver drove through your front yard and through a fence to hit your dog in the back yard (you do have a fence, right? That is what a responsible owner would do.) It seems you are quick to chastise everyone else for not knowing that hops are poisonous yet you don’t seem to understand the most basic rule of dog safety, the need to monitor and restrain your own dog.

    By Matthew on Sep 17, 2012

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  2. Jan 8, 2012: Dog Reactions To Hop Vines - Home Brew Forums
  3. Jun 18, 2012: new hop pest - Home Brew Forums

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