yappy hour: dr. ernie ward discusses wine and beer for dogs

Dr. Ernie
Posted by Dr. Ernie Ward on Mar 11 2014



Every now and then I run across a product that surprises me. Recently, I’ve begun to notice “wine” and “beer” made for dogs. Read that again – I had to. Is this trend of tossing one back with our best friends good or bad, fashion or fad?



Imitation adult beverages made Fido-friendly are something I’ve covered before. In 2008, I discovered a budding brewery for canines called Bowser Beer. Back then I thought it was a novelty act that would quickly disappear; more than five years later they’re still in business (reminding why I chose veterinary medicine instead of investment banking or high-stakes poker).

Bowser Beer is non-alcoholic and non-carbonated brew that comes in beef or chicken flavors. I gave some to my dogs years ago and they lapped it up gleefully. At $19.99 a six-pack, I couldn’t afford Yappy Hour for more than about 10 minutes. I always fancied myself more of a “water, straight-up” drinker so I excused myself from Bowser Beer. And then I ran across a wine made for dogs.

Yappy Hour Vineyards is based out of southern California (where else?). The owners originally made gift baskets and noticed the number of wine-related animal products they were being asked to bundle in their baskets. This sparked an idea, and Yappy Hour Vineyards was created.

Now although it’s called a vineyard, there actually isn’t any wine in dog wine. The beverage is actually a non-alcoholic meat gravy sauce-like product. The sauces appear to be manufactured, or should I say “vinified,” in a plant that specializes in hot sauces and gravies made for human consumption. Here’s hoping they don’t get things mixed up one day or we’re going to see some “hot dogs!” (Sorry. My fifth-grader made me say it.)

Bottles of Yappy Hour dog wines come in a number of “varietals” including Bark-deaux, Char-dog-nay, Grrrr-lot, and Pinot Tail-io. Felines aren’t forgotten, as they can sip a fine Mos-cat-o while Mom or Dad tie one on.

As a person with champagne taste and a beer budget, I found these libations a bit luxurious. A 12.6-oz (375-ml) bottle will set you back about $20. The good news is that this “wine” is definitely meant for sipping. At that price, it’d better be.

When you drop a Jackson on a bottle, some of the proceeds benefit animal charities. I enjoy splurging on my pets from time to time, and when I spend my hard-earned cash on something so indulgent it helps ease my guilt if I’m helping animals in need, even if only a little.

Despite the novelty factor, there is a downside to all of these alcohol imposters for animals. Some pet owners are going to inevitably confuse specially-made, alcohol-free products with the real deal. Let me be crystal clear: alcohol is extremely dangerous to pets. Even a few ounces of beer, wine or liquor can be fatal to dogs and cats.

Our pets lack the ability to effectively metabolize alcohol and can develop life-threatening low blood sugar after alcohol ingestion. Maybe it’s just the veterinary paranoia in me speaking, but my fear is that maybe a pet owner starts out with one of these products, gets a little loopy, laments the high cost of the “doggie wine” and decides to add a splash of Sauvignon blanc to their dog’s dish. Call me crazy, but more than 22 years of practice has taught me to anticipate the ridiculous.

Fashion or fad? Good or bad? Who knows? I love treating our pets to life’s little luxuries whenever possible and practical. For me, I’d prefer to put a cork in the bottle and go for a walk.