Dogs can be just as much work as people when it comes to feeding them the right foods!
Knowing what your pup can and can’t eat is critical to keeping your canine pal healthy. Although you can’t watch what your dog eats all the time, you’re the one in charge of his meals and snacks. And unfortunately there are some foods that might seem okay, but are actually not so great for your dog.
Sure, it’s fun to share your favorite meal or drink with your doggo. But he really won’t benefit from an ice cream sundae, a candy bar, or other treats that you enjoy yourself.
Luckily, there are many human foods that dogs can eat. So, what about coffee? Coffee is a natural product and has some proven health benefits for humans—but can dogs drink coffee?
Is coffee safe for dogs?
No! Caffeine is not suitable for dogs. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks—caffeine is a no-no!
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant from a group of drugs called methylxanthines. It is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug.. Another stimulant derived from xanthines is theobromine, which is present in chocolate (along with caffeine!). Theobromine is known to be a blood vessel widener and a diuretic.
Unfortunately, most households will have coffee in their kitchen or pantry. And not just coffee, but tea, soda, and possibly even energy drinks or sports drinks. Other sources of caffeine include chocolate, protein powders, and some diet pills. If your dog is the curious type, there’s every chance he could attempt to sample these.
The risks of giving your dog caffeine
Dogs are much more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than their owners. Caffeine can rapidly increase a dog’s heart rate. While a few drops of coffee probably won’t affect him too much, anything more could be life threatening.
Caffeine poisoning in dogs can have serious consequences. Symptoms include hyperactivity, tremors, and an elevated heart rate. Dogs can also suffer from seizures, high temperature, and may even collapse. These symptoms can occur within just 1–2 hours of his ingesting the caffeine. Even minor amounts of coffee grounds or tea bags can be poisonous and possibly even fatal, especially for smaller dogs.
Other caffeinated substances that must be off limits to your dog include:
- Tea and tea bags
- Energy drinks
- Bodybuilding supplements
- Diet pills
Caffeine poisoning is not as common as chocolate poisoning, but it’s still possible.
How much caffeine is too much?
According to Provet, a dog would only have to ingest 150 mg of coffee per kilo of body weight to suffer fatal effects. So if your dog weighs around 5 kg, around 750 mg of coffee would be potentially lethal.
Instant cocoa and tea all contained varying concentrations of caffeine. Regular instant coffee contains over 60 mg caffeine per teaspoon. Percolated coffee is around 100 mg/cup. The caffeine content in instant cocoa can be as much as 7.8 mg/cup. Black tea is around 65 mg/cup, and a typical spice-based blend may contain around 30.2 mg/cup.
Remember: there is no antidote for coffee poisoning, so it’s best to keep it out of his reach altogether. Store your coffee and tea on a high shelf in the kitchen. Keep chocolate in the fridge or pantry. Lock away any medications or supplements that contain caffeine.
What to do if your dog had caffeine
If you think your dog has ingested caffeine, call your vet immediately. This goes for whether he’s eaten coffee grounds, drunk some of your morning brew, or swallowed some kind of flu medication. Your vet will be able to assess him, check for symptoms of caffeine poisoning, and administer treatment.
Your dog may need to be hospitalized for several days. Treatment will depend on the severity of his case and may involve anything from induced vomiting to IV fluid therapy. He may also require heart rate and blood pressure monitoring.
If you can’t get hold of your veterinarian, contact a pet poison control center instead. You may have to bring your dog to the nearest emergency facility. When your dog is out of danger, you will need to schedule a follow up with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will help to make sure your dog's health has not been compromised.
Learn more about what is safe (or not) for dogs: