Moose, elk, bears… a quick Google uncovers many stories of wild animals accidentally ‘drunk’ on fermented apples.  We chuckle, feel sorry for them, and move on.

However, there are dangers that fermenting apples pose for horses, livestock and dogs, even in small doses.

How Ethanol Poisoning Can Hurt Animals

  • Ethanol poisoning can damage cells and the heart, and may even result in death.
  • Inebriated animals can get themselves into very dangerous situations and predicaments, like the recent story of a moose stuck in a tree.
  • Pets may wander from the safety of your property.
  • They can end up in the middle of a street without the capacity to move out of the way of moving vehicles.
  • Their instincts and sense of danger are impaired.

Symptoms of ethanol poisoning may include:

There are too many variables (known and unknown) to predict at what point ethanol poisoning may occur. It will vary by species, weight and metabolic rate. The situation is further complicated by the varying stages of fermentation, which depend upon how long the apple has been on the ground, the weather, and even the variety of apple. You would also have to know how many apples have been consumed.

It’s critical to watch for the following symptoms:

  • Change in behavior, from hyperactivity to lethargy
  • Loss of equilibrium
  • Incontinence
  • Slowed breathing and heart rate
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Cardiac arrest

Seek emergency medical attention immediately if your pet has any of these symptoms.

Prevention is simple, if a bit of a pain.  Clean up fallen apples within a couple of days of them falling to the ground.

Note:  Avoid eating fallen apples yourself if they’ve been exposed to fecal matter from either livestock or wild animals, as they may be contaminated with E. Coli.

??? Have you ever had a pet with suspected ethanol poisoning?  We can all learn from your experience!

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
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10 thoughts on “Fermenting Apples May Cause Ethanol Poisoning in Pets, Horses & Cattle

  1. We’re hauling out some apple trees in the spring and I may do them all now that I know they could hurt the horses. I haven’t noticed a problem but better safe than sorry.

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