Dog Tips

Can Dogs Have Caffeine? Dangers & Prevention

It’s not uncommon for people to start their early mornings with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Actually, it’s a little part of morning routines that many people wake up looking forward to. Any many dogs can be curious about what’s in the cup their pet parents carry around every morning. Unfortunately for our dogs though, caffeine is one of many substances that is safe for humans but toxic to them. In this article, we’ll walk you through why caffeine is harmful to dogs and what you can do to keep your pet caffeine-free.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee, tea, and cocoa. It’s also added into other food and drink items like, energy drinks, soda, chocolate, and certain medications. Caffeine can improve mental alertness and reduce fatigue by stimulating the nervous system. It’s safe for us to drink in moderation but is toxic to dogs and other animals and can cause symptoms even in small amounts. Because dogs are so much more sensitive to caffeine than we are, ingesting it can cause a range of serious health problems for them.

Which Products Contain Caffeine?

Caffeine can be found in many products, some more obvious than others. Here are a few common sources of caffeine that you should keep away from your dog:

One thing to note here: Even decaf coffees and teas still have a small amount of caffeine in them, so it’s best to keep these items away from your dog too.

How Harmful is Caffeine for Dogs?

Dogs are so sensitive to caffeine that even a small amount can overstimulate their central nervous systems. If your dog ingests caffeine, symptoms normally appear within 30 minutes to 2 hours and can be fatal if not treated. Contact your vet as soon as you realize that your dog has ingested caffeine.

Some symptoms of caffeine toxicity in dogs can include:

  • Restlessness

  • Rapid breathing

  • Heart palpitations

  • Muscle tremors

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Hyperactivity

  • Seizures

  • Collapse

The severity of these symptoms depends on the amount of caffeine ingested and the size of the dog. Smaller dogs are more susceptible to caffeine toxicity than larger dogs, because of their lower body weight.

Can Caffeine Be Lethal for Dogs?

Caffeine can absolutely be lethal to dogs, especially if they ingest a large amount. The toxic dose of caffeine for a dog is about 9mg per pound of body weight, meaning that a small dog can be affected severely by just 1 cup. The lethal dose is higher than the toxic dose but varies depending on the size of the dog and their health.

How Can You Keep Your Dog Caffeine-Free?

Dogs are naturally curious. And a lot of dogs can’t be trusted not to touch an unguarded cup or plate of food. Some dogs also can’t help but dig through a trash can at every opportunity. If this sounds like your dog. We have a few ideas on how you can prevent your pup from snacking on any of your caffeinated products.

Take all of these products; coffee grounds, tea bags, chocolate, and any caffeinated medications, and store them either in a cabinet or on a shelf that’s too high for your pet to reach. If you’re pet likes to dig through your trash, get a pet-proof trashcan or crate train your pet, so that you don’t have to worry about what they may get into while you're out.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ingests Caffeine?

If you’re dog somehow still manages to ingest caffeine it's really important to act quickly. Symptoms normally appear in 30 minutes to 2 hours and can be fatal if left untreated. Contact your vet or an animal poison control center for guidance.

Sometimes they will ask you to induce vomiting in your pet, but be ready to take your dog to an emergency hospital for treatment if you need to. Treatment for caffeine toxicity can include inducing vomiting, giving the pet activated charcoal to absorb the caffeine, or providing supportive care to help manage symptoms.


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