Nothing beats starting a day with a morning cup of joe. Sharing a cup of coffee with a friend, however, is pure happiness. And so, pet owners ask, can dogs drink coffee? Will sharing a slurp of this bitter brew with your pet dog perk them up?
Drinking coffee can indeed turn a bad day into something much more bearable. However, we can’t really say the same for your pets. Fact is, some of the foods and drinks we enjoy are harmful (or even deadly) to our pet dogs.
If you want to know if coffee is among the things your pets should or should not avoid, read on. Your go-to site for anything dog-related, DogFood.Guide is here to answer your question and give you the lowdown on coffee and its effects on your pet dog’s health.
Must-Know Coffee Facts
Next to water, coffee is the second most popular beverage in the whole world. It’s also the second most traded commodity (next to oil) for obvious reasons – many people just love coffee and can’t live without it.
Coffee is a bitter, somewhat acidic, dark-colored drink prepared in different ways (think espresso, café Americano, and frappuccino). It’s made from coffee beans, which in reality are fruit pits or seeds of berries. Roasted, grounded, and then brewed, the result is a beverage that offers a complex blend of flavors.
Interestingly, this bitter brew was banned back in the day (during the Ottoman empire) for consumption due to its mind-altering effects. In the year 1991, it was also considered a carcinogen. Nowadays, though, it’s hailed for its various health benefits.
Truth be told, coffee still has its downside, especially when you have too much caffeine. But, the same applies to everything else.
When taken in moderation, coffee (whether instant or brewed coffee) gives us the needed boost in energy for the day ahead, and that’s all thanks to its caffeine content.
Besides caffeine, coffee also contains antioxidants and other nutrients. All these provide us with some health benefits, which includes the following:
- Can help enhance brain function and reaction time
- Help reduce fat and boost metabolism
- May lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Can improve mood and help fight depression
- Reduces risk of stroke
Can Dogs Drink Coffee?
The short answer here is NO.
Despite the long list of benefits we humans gain from drinking coffee, it’s a different story for dogs. Coffee – or anything that has caffeine – is considered toxic to dogs.
While it is true that a sip would not contain enough caffeine to cause toxicity in most pets, giving your dog coffee is not in any way beneficial for them.
And since it’s toxic nonetheless, it’s best to err on the side of caution. This way, you get to save yourself and your pet dog from any stress-inducing situation.
What Makes Coffee Dangerous To Dogs?
Coffee is a great way to jumpstart our day, and this is all because of its caffeine’s energy-boosting effects. It’s the caffeine content in coffee that invigorates our nervous system and brain and keeps us going.
Caffeine also has the same effect on our pet dogs. Unfortunately, its stimulant effects are too much for our pets to handle.
Humans would need to ingest over 400 mg (or even more depending on your age and weight) of coffee to experience caffeine overdose. On the other hand, an ounce of coffee bean or a few teaspoons of instant coffee grounds, or a single caffeine pill can already adversely affect a dog’s health and result in serious caffeine poisoning or caffeine toxicity.
Caffeine Toxicity In Dogs: What You Need To Know
Caffeine poisoning is a life-threatening condition caused by caffeine. It only takes a small amount of caffeine for dogs to feel its side effects, and this is partly because of their tiny bodies. And like humans, the impact of caffeine varies from dog to dog.
Risk Factors Of Caffeine Poisoning
Obviously, the amount of caffeine a dog consumes will determine the severity of caffeine toxicity or caffeine poisoning in dogs. Since the caffeine content in an 8-ounce espresso is higher compared to a serving of regular coffee, dogs will only need a small amount of espresso to show signs of caffeine poisoning.
Since a dog’s weight and size matter, you can expect small dogs to be more sensitive to caffeine’s stimulant effects. As such, if a large dog drinks coffee, there might not be a need to worry. However, close monitoring is already a must if a small dog drinks coffee.
Apart from a dog’s weight and size, the effects will also vary depending on their age and overall health condition. Older dogs with kidney problems are more at risk than healthier, younger dogs.
Common Signs Of Caffeine Poisoning
According to Cornell University Veterinary Specialist Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, it only takes 30 minutes up to an hour after consuming coffee for dogs to exhibit symptoms of caffeine poisoning.
The symptoms of caffeine poisoning can range from mild to severe and can last from 6 to 12 hours (or more), depending on the amount of caffeine consumed.
Mild signs or symptoms include restlessness and elevated heart rate, aka “tachycardia.” Other symptoms include the following:
- Agitation, pacing, or hyperactivity
- Gastrointestinal tract issues like vomiting and diarrhea
- Panting and vocalization
- Loss of muscle control
- Elevated blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Elevated body temperature
Severe signs include tremors and seizures. Worst comes to worst; a dog can also collapse or die.
My Pet Dog Drank Coffee! What To Do?
Suppose your dog finds its way to your coffee nook and gets a helping of coffee, coffee grounds, or chocolate-covered espresso beans; it’s best to contact your veterinarian immediately.
If your veterinarian is unavailable, you can bring your dog to the nearest emergency facility or contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680. Although Pet Poison Helpline charges a fee for their services, that amount goes a long way since Pet Poison Helpline is available 24/7 to help.
Caffeine poisoning is a life-threatening condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly—your pet’s chances of survival increase with early detection and treatment.
Treatment Of Caffeine Poisoning In Pets
Induce vomiting is a treatment often administered when a person swallows something poisonous. It’s the same for dogs. However, it’s best to let your vet handle this. Aside from inducing vomiting, treatment may also include:
- Activated charcoal to minimize absorption of toxins
- Intravenous fluids to keep your dog hydrated and help flush out the toxins
- Medication to lower blood pressure, stabilize heart rate and treat seizures or tremors
- Your veterinarian may require hospitalization for severe cases
Other Common Sources Of Caffeine
Since caffeine is the main reason why your dog should not have coffee, as pet owners, you should also ensure to keep all other caffeine-loaded foods and drinks out of your dog’s reach. This includes:
- Coffee beans
- Decaffeinated coffee
- Energy or sports drinks
- Tea and tea bags
- Soft drinks
- Yerba mate
- Diet pills
- Caffeine pills
What To Do To Keep Your Pets Safe
Aside from keeping the energy drinks, chocolate, and coffee beans far from your pets’ reach, one thing you can do to keep your pets safe is to break the habit of giving your dog this unhealthy treat every once in a while.
We know it’s tempting to give them a bite since a bite wouldn’t hurt. Then again, they’ll only ask for more once they have a taste of it. And, truth be told, it’s going to be hard to ask them to “leave it” if they already know it tastes good.
Can your dog drink coffee? The answer is NO. Coffee and all other caffeinated products should be hidden from your dog’s sight.
While it’s true that a sip or a little bite is harmless, you don’t want your pup craving for more of this after getting some. If you wish your pup to live longer, giving them healthy treats is the way to go.
Lastly, it’s also a good idea to check with your veterinarian whenever you’re planning to introduce a new food to your pup. After all, your vet knows best.