We tend to think of our canine companions as our best friends. Because of this closeness, we often share bits of our food or beverages with them; however, when it comes to coffee and other caffeinated beverages, sharing is definitely not caring.
Is Coffee Bad for Dogs?
The caffeine in coffee is a nervous system stimulant, which is why so many of us need it to function first thing in the morning. Coffee has the same stimulating effect in dogs as it does in humans; however, a dog’s tolerance for caffeine is much lower than ours. Even in small amounts, caffeine can be toxic to dogs.
Can Dogs Drink Coffee?
As little as 140 to 150 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight can be lethal in dogs. Your dog would have to drink more than a full cup of coffee to get that much caffeine; however, they can overdose quickly if they get into coffee grounds or your favorite chocolate-covered coffee beans.
What Are the Dangers of Caffeine for Canines?
A dog will typically start to develop signs of caffeine poisoning within a couple of hours of ingesting the caffeine. The symptoms are similar to what a person might experience if they drink a large amount of coffee, including
- rapid heart rate,
- breathing problems, and
Keep in mind that any food or drink that contains caffeine can be dangerous to your dog. This includes tea, energy drinks, sodas, and chocolate. In fact, your dog is probably more likely to consume chocolate, sodas, and energy drinks than coffee because of the sweetness. You should never encourage or entice your dog to consume any caffeinated food or beverage.
My Dog Drank Coffee. What Should I Do?
Dogs are naturally curious and can sometimes sneak a bit of food or drink despite our best intentions. If this should happen, you should not panic. As long as they did not eat or drink a large amount, they should be fine. You should keep a close eye on them for a couple of hours for any signs of caffeine poisoning.
If your dog does develop symptoms, be sure to get them to an emergency vet as soon as possible. There is not a specific antidote for canine caffeine poisoning; however, there are steps that your vet can take to limit the effects.
- They can administer anti-seizure medications.
- They can induce vomiting, which can prevent more caffeine from entering the system.
- They can administer medications to help lower your dog’s blood pressure.
In most cases, the vet will want to keep your dog for observation for several hours.
The Bottom Line:
When it comes to your dog’s diet, simplicity is best. There is no reason to give your dog anything to drink other than plenty of fresh, clean water. You should also avoid giving them table scraps. Certain human foods can be toxic to dogs or cause gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, anemia, or other health problems.
Some foods that can be especially problematic for dogs include
- dairy foods,
- fat trimmings, and
- salty foods.
The best way to prevent your dog from accidentally ingesting caffeine or other dangerous foods is to never get into the habit of sharing your food and drinks with them so that they will be less inclined to take them when you are not watching. Although it may seem like it would be boring, limiting your four-legged friend to foods specifically formulated for dogs will help keep them healthy.
If your dog is a mischievous sneak, make a point of never leaving your food and drinks unattended, and keep potentially dangerous items well out of reach.