Is caffeine poisonous to dogs?

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What it’s in:

Caffeine is most commonly found in coffee, coffee grounds, tea, used tea bags, soda, energy drinks and diet pills. Theobromine, a cousin chemical to caffeine is also found chocolate (see chocolate).

Threat to pets:

Pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people are. While 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats.

Signs of caffeine poisoning:

Within 1-2 hours of exposure: mild to severe hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), hypertension (elevated blood pressure), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) seizures, and collapse.

Treatment:

Induce vomiting and give multiple doses activated charcoal to decontaminate. Aggressive IV fluids to help with excretion, sedatives to calm the pet, specific heart medications to reduce the heart rate and blood pressure, anti-convulsants for seizures, antacids (such as Pepcid) for stomach discomfort and diarrhea. Caffeine may be reabsorbed across the bladder wall so a urinary catheter or frequent walks are needed to keep the bladder empty.

Prognosis:

Excellent in pets with mild signs of poisoning (such as slight restlessness or a minimally elevated heart rate). Poor in those with severe signs of poisoning such as collapse and seizures.

Published on September 23, 2011
Categorized under: Pet Safety Tips

35 Responses to “Is caffeine poisonous to dogs?”

  1. nicia says:

    Extremely helpful; I hope my dog survives it because he is the best thing that’s happened to me.thank you

  2. [...] fact that caffeine, a prominent chemical in coffee, is a well-known and serious toxin in dogs makes the notion of coffee enemas in these species even more insane, if that is [...]

  3. Sandy Micka says:

    I lost my best little friend 2 days ago, a 3 1/2 year old Pomeranian, to Caffeine Poisoning. It was devastating.

    • jodi says:

      hi this is jodi hunt, i have two little pomerians, one 3 and a half, the other is 4. one of them loves coffee to death and drink it if i leave a cup lying around, i supposedly to remember its to make sure to pick up before i leave it lying around. however, im sorry to hear about your little pomerian. Was there poison in the coffee or it was a normal coffee? thanks

      • Sam says:

        This is an article about caffeine, a naturally occurring chemical in coffee, being poisonous to dogs. What do you think, was the coffee poisoned, or just poisonous to dogs because of the chemicals naturally occurring in it?

  4. Brandy says:

    My dog drank some of my vitamin water that I spilled. It has 87mg of caffeine in it. She only had about 3 or 4 laps of it. Should I worry? She is a 15 pound shihtzu.

    • J.Lee says:

      When in doubt, ALWAYS call our 800-213-6680 phone number, as these comments are managed by our web manager, not by a veterinarian! This can be poisonous, depending on the size of your pet!

  5. jayne ali says:

    my dog drank a cup of coffee and about an hour after he had a fit he hasnt had anymore this was yesterday but is ok today do i need to take him to the vet he is a german shepheard 3 years old

    • Hi Jayne,
      Since we are not always able to check our website daily for comments, we suggest you save our Hotline number (800-213-6680) so that you can have immediate access to veterinarians at any time. We hope that your dog is doing well.
      Pet Poison Helpline

  6. [...] effects of these substances than humans are. Ingesting even small amounts makes dogs vulnerable to caffeine poisoning, which can cause hyperactivity, panting, elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures and collapse. Seek [...]

  7. Mutt lover says:

    My 5 pound 3 month old puppy had a few laps of my coffee about an hour and a half ago… She has a rapid heart beat and is sleepy, but still alert. Should I call the vet?

    • Hi Mutt Lover,
      Since there can be a delay from when a comment is posted until we see it, we suggest that you always call our 24/7 Helpline (800-213-6680) or your veterinarian in the event of a potential poisoning. The sooner you call, the easier, less expensive, and safer it is to treat your pet. Hope your puppy is doing OK and if you start to notice any unusual behavior, please give us or your veterinarian a call.
      Pet Poison Helpline

  8. Vicki says:

    Our 4 pound 10 month old Maltese opened a tea bag
    and ingested a lot around 4:30 pm. She seems so hyper and I am very worried. Should I take her to the Animal Hospital ?

    • J.Lee says:

      Please call our 800-213-6680 number as it is available 24/7. Teabags can be very poisonous, especially to a small dog. These comments are not revewied daily, and it’s not worth changing your dog’s health and life waiting for a response.

  9. matt says:

    on tues jan 15th my dog ate a 12 oz bag of fresh coffee grounds. we took him to the animal hospital near us. Thank God i did or he would have died. The doctors there said he was in very serious condition, his heart rate was 200, he was pre seizure and very out of it.. his eyes were fully glazed over he had no idea where he was. They induced vomiting and put him on IV. it was a rough 24hrs. I have had einstien for 12 yrs. I could not face the world without him. I stayed at the hospital for 6hrs. until they said he needs to just rest . I went home and cried. and prayed. the next moring I called , he was doing ok.. !!! I rushed up to see him but he still did not know me yet.. it told 2 full days for him to know me and to get somewhat better. it is now day 4 and he is home and HAPPY to say doing fine.. hopefully no lnog term effects.. Please note my dog ahs eaten many, many things over the 12 yrs. but NEVER NEVER had anything like this near death experience as with the coffee.. please watch your animals..

  10. Amy Lynn says:

    My 6 year old golden doodle got a small bag of coffee grinds from a travel bag I had on the counter and chewed a small corner and made more of a mess than anything with it but he had to have eaten some because about 3 hours after we came home the dog acted as if he was drunk – swaying side to side, tripping over everything, scared, unaware what was going on, almost fell down the stairs and was whinning alot. Not to mention the foul smell and white drool. My other dog stayed close to help – so they both stunk! When he finally came through he had some water and went out for a BIG bowel movement and pee and had a bath and was fine! BUT yes it was very scary for us all. It happened once before but it was outside so we thought he was stung by a bee – I guess now we know – It could have been chocolate the last time but Caffeine is definitely out of sight and up high from now on! Take care of those fur balls of love :) Hope this can help someone else out. That is why I am sharing.

  11. [...] The final ingredient is “green tea extract”. One to two laps of coffee or tea is enough to cause caffeine poisoning in dogs. [...]

  12. Eric Weisman says:

    Never use a coffee enema in dogs or cats. Keep coffee and chocolate away from your dogs and cats. You run the risk of causing intestinal spasm, rapid heart rate, vomiting resulting in aspiration pneumonia and even death.

    Coffee is toxic to dogs and cats. The damaging response is dependent on the amount of coffee consummed, either orally or rectally as with an enema. It is best to keep your pets away from this damaging toxic substance.

    For a safe enema for a dog or cat, only use distilled water that is tepid, but never hot water. Slightly warm is most comfortable for the pet. It is best to consult a veterinarian for the amount of fluid to use and it is always best to use less then more.

  13. phil says:

    My dog ate nearly 1000mg of caffeine from caffeine pills 2 nights ago while I was asleep. He popped the cap off a child safe bottle. Some sort of genius sparked in him and he went out into the back yard and ate about half a pound of grill charcoal, came up to my room and woke me by vomiting a good half gallon of very viscous black charcoal laden fluid on me, shortly retreating to the floor where he sprayed noxious, watery stool everywhere. Immediately took him to the emergency vet with a cup of the vomit, and the vet asked if I had given him the charcoal, because it’s what saved his life. I later found a torn bag in the back yard and briquettes everywhere. Shaking, obvious heart palpitations, and very dilated pupils were his symptoms. Dog proof your home… I know I did. My dog told me in the only way he could, by making a scene I couldn’t ignore, and saved himself. It’s not likely your dog will do the same, keep stuff like that far out of their reach.

    • catlvr says:

      Wow Phil, that is one heck of a story! I can’t decide if your dog is an idiot (for eating the dang pills in the first place) or pure genius (for saving himself..how the heck did he know to eat charcoal??????), lol. Whatever he is, I’m happy he survived the ordeal and hope others on this forum WAKE UP and Pet-proof their homes.

  14. Craig says:

    Yesterday my 11 year old miniature poodle ‘Eevee’ helped herself to nearly half a cup of strong coffee when I was distracted on my computer (I had been drinking it and had put the cup down momentarily on the floor next to my couch. Next thing, the cup is ‘empty’!! My dog is standing there licking her lips and ‘grinning’..
    Well, today she is blotto! Just lying still in a kind of stupor.. oh dear!! Craig

  15. andrea says:

    i have a german shepard and i was not in sight for about ten minutes and when i sae him i found that he had eaten the white lil bag thats in his treat bag that isnt supposed to be eaten… is there any solution

  16. Terri says:

    I have a 3 1/2 lb Chihuahua who loves coffee. She has about a 1/4 cup a day with creamer. Never a problem. She will bark at the coffee cup to have a drink and will even go down in the evenings and cry for some coffee (which is decaf in the evenings). She has regular checkups at the vet and is in excellent health. It has never made her hyper (in fact she drinks it in the morning with me and lays on my lap and sleeps. Now I am worried I am harming her. Breaking her of the habit is not going to be easy.

  17. kaylee shay says:

    my 20lb pugle got into the trash and the was coffee in it and idk if he ate some but he is drooling really badly he doesnt ever drool like this should i be worried bout this

  18. My dog (my besits wwhenbeimg served..
    st friend), likes a small amount of coffee (just enough to fill the bottom of the saucer where the cup is usually

    I would NEVER do anything to hurt him (ABU). I will find somethong for him to drimk in the morng while I am having my morning coffee,incidentially, He would never drink coffee without coffee mate and sugar (sweet and low. Thanks very muchfor your information, we may have saved his life.

    Sincerely,
    Charles Reid.

  19. Marissa says:

    My 5lb chihuahua had about 2-3 laps of my coffee when I wasn’t looking about 2 hours ago. Now her stomach is making noise like it’s trying to digest something it can’t. I read after 2 hours it’s a little late to induce vomiting. She’s sleepy and also I believe her heart rate isn’t abnormal for her. Should I be scared?

  20. Nan Collins says:

    My 60 mix dog ate possibly a pound of coffee about 13 hrs. ago.When we came home late last night we discovered she had distroyed the room she was left in,including the doors.She appeared fine and had no accidents in the houuse over night.Is there anything we should do today?

  21. Beatrice says:

    OMG Im very ignorant!! I been giving coffee to my dog since he was smaller!! He is a pit/mix and in my ignorance, because I love coffee; I used to give him a little of my cup like 1/2 of it… It has happen so many times. My dog LOVES IT.. My dog is fine but I will never risk it again!!

  22. My dog also drank once a coffee of mine and he was completely ok. I am sure everything depends on proportions and amounts…actually caffeine can be also poisonous for people.

  23. Ellie says:

    I clumsily dropped a teabag (used) on the floor and our dog is always first at the scene when something drops on the floor, hoping it’s food, and she got to the bag before I did and ate the whole thing. I hadn’t thought much of it but now she is extremely active which is unusual at this time of night for her. Does anyone have any advice?

  24. Julie Barrie says:

    I have a 1yr old border collie who at every chance she gets who likes drink whats left of my coffee I haven’t noticed any difference in her after drinking it but would like to know if there could be any problems if she keeps doing this thanks.

  25. tori says:

    My little 12 week old pomerainan had a few mouthfuls of coffee was very restless and hypo has now crashed but he feels quite warm I hope hes ok anyone know how much they need to drink to get poisoning

  26. Britton says:

    Hi. I think my dog ate a green tea pill. The pill was green. If he has ate it what are the symptoms? He is acting normal as usual though.

  27. Nikki says:

    My bullmastiff has just eaten 2 tea bags she is about 20kg in weight should I make her sick?

  28. Nari says:

    Coffee is bad for dogs?? I’ve had coffee every morning with my dog (a 15lbs Bison/Papillion) for the past 17 years, and never once have I had a problem with her getting sick. My dog eats grapes, chocolates, drinks coffee with me, table scraps, and she’s just about the healthiest dog on the block (although, she is 17 years old, so she’s starting to lose her hearing, but that’s the only problem she has). Guess I’m just lucky.

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