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