If you’re a coffee connoisseur who can’t survive without their morning java, we understand. But keep a sharp eye out—sometimes your furry friends can’t resist the temptation to taste that bitter brew. And while humans often need that jolt of caffeine to start the day, coffee can hurt and even kill your beloved companion.
A lick or two of coffee (or even soda or tea) typically isn’t enough to cause poisoning in most pets. But if your dog ingests unused coffee grounds or beans or tea bags, it could cause serious toxicity.
If you know your dog drank coffee or ate coffee grounds or beans, you need to monitor them for signs of toxicity. Immediately call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) for medical advice.
Why Do Dogs Drink Coffee?
Dogs are naturally curious creatures who taste whatever treats they can get. Sometimes they will eat grass, rocks, toilet paper, and, most disgustingly, poop. Since they’ll even drink from the toilet, why wouldn’t they be intrigued by the scent of your morning cup of joe?
With more people spending time at home, dogs have also had more time to get into household pet hazards. The Pet Poison Helpline reports that they’ve seen a 220 percent increase in calls involving brewed coffee.
What to Do if Your Dog Drinks Coffee
Dogs are more sensitive to caffeine than humans are. A few laps of your morning brew likely won’t contain enough caffeine to poison your dog, but it could make them sick.
If your dog eats coffee grounds, it could lead to serious poisoning, as they have a higher concentration of caffeine.
Call your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog drank coffee or consumed coffee products like beans or grounds. You can help your veterinarian evaluate the potential risk by having an estimate of your dog’s weight and the amount of coffee they consumed readily available.
If your veterinarian isn’t available, contact the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) immediately. This hotline can help you locate the nearest emergency facility and walk you through first-aid measures.
Most dogs will survive caffeine consumption as long as they get help quickly.
Symptoms of Caffeine Poisoning
You can typically see signs of caffeine toxicity within 30 to 60 minutes of consumption. Symptoms can last anywhere between 12 hours to several days. You’ll need to monitor your dog for any of these symptoms:
- Elevated heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
In severe cases, collapse, tremors, and seizures are possible. Too much caffeine can kill your pooch but the lethal dose of caffeine varies, depending on the size of your dog.
How Veterinarians Treat Caffeine Poisoning
Your veterinarian may recommend that you monitor your dog for symptoms of caffeine poisoning and call back if their condition worsens. It’s also possible that they’ll recommend that you bring your dog in for an examination.
A veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting if it’s within a few hours of when your dog ingested the caffeine, so that your pup’s body doesn’t continue to absorb it. Never induce vomiting on your own.
Sometimes they will give dogs activated charcoal to help rid their body of toxins without them absorbing into the bloodstream. They may also give them fluids to flush the caffeine from their body or administer medications to control heart rates, tremors, and seizures.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Drinking Coffee
Even though a bit of brewed coffee may not cause a problem in larger dogs, never offer coffee in any form as a treat.
While it’s fun to give your canine companion all the treats they deserve, offering them a human treat like chocolate can harm or even kill them.
Keep all caffeinated products like coffee, coffee grounds, coffee beans, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and tea bags, off the ground and out of reach of your dogs. When you’re done brewing your morning joe, always put the pot and cup up out of the way. That includes not placing it where it can be easily knocked over and licked off the ground.
When you throw away your coffee grounds, close up the trash bag and make sure it’s completely inaccessible to your dog. Some dogs, like Labrador Retrievers, like to fetch treats out of the trash.
Remind your children, family, roommates, and guests that coffee needs to be kept away from your dog. If you’re giving coffee as a gift in Christmas stockings or Hannukkah gifts, keep them in a place where your dog can’t get into them.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to teach your dog the “leave it” command to prevent them from eating something they shouldn’t.