Does Guinness Beer Kill Heartworms?

Life With Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

3.16.14 - Guinness Heartworm Treatment

In light of St. Patrick’s day, here is a somewhat Irish-centered story:  While many owners living in areas with mosquitos active for at least part of the year treat their dogs with medicinal heartworm preventatives, others rely on what they feel is a tried and true method:  Guinness beer.

Having never heard of this myself, I decided to do some research on the subject.  Disappointingly, yet not unsurprisingly, there were no legitimate scientific studies to be found.  Many scoff at the notion and call this an old wives tale, but with the shunning of pesticides and a revived interest homeopathic remedies, alternative treatments are always worth looking into.

So you might be wondering, “how in the world could beer be good for my dog, aside from giving him an impossibly shiny coat?” Apparently it’s all about the hops.  Now, for those of you whose minds are jumping right to “hops toxicity,” from the information out there, hops themselves can be toxic to dogs, but generally only if they are consuming concentrated hops or hops pellets.

The amount of beer recommended for the heartworm treatment is minimal, so the risk of toxicity or alcohol poisoning is slim, but obviously should be taken into consideration.  But if the risk is there, why try it all?

Well, health risks come with any treatment.  Ivermectin, the main ingredient in most heartworm medications, is itself a poison – an anthelmintic.  It kills worms, but it can also be fatal for many dogs.  Dogs sensitive to Ivermectin have an anomaly that allows the drug to pass through the blood brain barrier and right into the central nervous system, causing respiratory distress, seizures, comas and death.  Breeds especially susceptible to Ivermectin poisoning are sheepdogs, shepherds, Whippets, silken windhounds, Skye terriers and Collies.

Many owners give their pets regular treatments, but because of a growing tolerance, some dogs contract heartworm disease while taking preventatives. And it’s worth keeping in mind that when parasites are attacked with poison, they can release their own toxins, causing the host’s (your dog’s) immune system to go haywire trying to fight its invaders.  Because of these factors, many are choosing to try a different approach.

Veterinarians go to school for a long time, and have lots of training and experience to back up their recommendations for modern medicine.  No one here is refuting the credibility of a dedicated and intelligent professional.  But it’s not uncommon for those in the world of medicine to become biased and to disregard anything that hasn’t been favorably peer-reviewed and cited 87 times.

Take a look for yourself, and you’ll find that many swear by the beer method.  It could just be good fortune that their dogs aren’t plagued by parasites, but who knows?  It’s something to look into, anyway.  If you’re interested, here is the suggested treatment course :

This part is crucial – you cannot just use any beer – it must be Guinness Black Draught, the kind that comes from Dublin.  It cannot be made anywhere else.  People say the hops and water in this area are what makes the treatment effective.  The hops sterilize the heartworms so more larvae cannot be produced.

Give 1 ounce (approximately 2 tablespoons) of beer per 25 pounds of dog.  You may allow the beer to sit out to become decarbonated so your dog does not become gassy or develop bloat.  Not all dogs are beer hounds, so it can be mixed in with food if they won’t just drink it.  Give them this dosage once, and then once again in two weeks, and only once a month afterwards.  If they test positive for heartworm within the first couple of months, give them the dosage every two weeks for three months.  If you’re not a beer drinker and won’t be enjoying the rest of the beverage after you administer the treatment, just recap the bottle and store it in the fridge until the next treatment – the hops won’t go bad.


Please remember, this article is only presenting an alternative view.  We are not medical experts and are not suggesting that anyone try treatments of any kind without thoroughly researching and discussing them with professionals.





19 thoughts on “Does Guinness Beer Kill Heartworms?”

  1. According to the ASPCA POISON CONTROL CENTER “alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol should never be given to dogs.” Alcohol is an adult beverage — it’s not for pets.

    • Somewhere it also says they should not have arsenic but that is the main ingredient in all heartworm treatment.

      • Arsinicals are what you need to kill adult heartworms if your dog gets them because you think beer will prevent then instead of an actual heartworm preventative. So use something that works, instead of garbage from the internet.

  2. My daughter has a GSD test positive for heartworm. She started it on this and took the dog in for monthly testing. She saw improvement every month.

    • Do you mean the guiness beer worked for your daughters dog? Is that what you mean? I’m wondering because my neighbors dog tested positive for HW. He’s not able to spend the money for the treatment at the vets office and I was wondering if I should try the beer method. Thanks.

  3. But does it kill the adult heartworms? My labs been treated for the preventative of future worms but it does nothing for the adult worms already formed and growing.

  4. It only states that it will sterilize the adult heartworms and allow the test not to pick up on sterile heartworm. It not kill the adult and therefore your dog still has heartworms.

  5. My dog was diagnosed with heart worms after a lot of reading I decided to try the beer. It’s not enough to get them drunk and it worked on my dog she is heart worm free and it’s a lot cheaper and I make beer floats with vanilla icecream

  6. Actually what he is saying is legit – I know several vets who use this method. I have been using it for years as well on several breeds of dogs. All still alive in perfect condition. My German Shepard and Wipit love this method especially since they are sensitive to a lot of medicines. I am very disappointed in those judging a topic that they do not fully comprehend.

  7. Maybe those speaking about how safe and effective heartworm meds are would like my Vet bills. My dog developed seizures from Heartgard and continues to have them till this day. I’m done listening to the so called “experts” regarding medications for my dogs that cause them to have these horrible illnesses. They have poisoned our children with vaccinations that are not needed and our pets with medications that kill all in the name of money.

    • Most anything your traditional vet prescribes is highly toxic & can kill/injure your pet. Switch to a holistic vet & give your pet the gift of true health. I use an essential oil spray to deter my dogs getting bit. A real species appropriate raw diet is what animals require not commercial crap. You cannot expect health by ingesting/injecting toxins.


Leave a Comment