Don’t Let Your Pets Drink Your Coffee!
In Portland, we love our pets, just like people do everywhere around the country. But with so many pet friendly restaurants, bars and coffee houses, we tend to see a lot more dogs (especially) out in public with their owners, enjoying PDX life. In most cases, shop owners offer healthy treats for sale or for free, making sure that their customers’ dogs have a little special something to ease their nerves when in public. And similarly, there always seems to be a generous bowl of water close by the entrance or exit of the shop.
Often, you might see a pet owner passing along a bit of human food to their dog companion — pieces of bread or crackers, for example. But what about coffee? Is it safe to let your dog (or your cat) take a few sips of that highly coveted caffeine beverage, thinking they might like it as much as you do? Read on for a short guide to coffee, caffeine and your pets, and where to set the limitations.
Coffee Is Not Okay for Pets to Consume
Truth be told, dogs should really never drink caffeinated coffee, though accidents can and do happen. So what should you be prepared for if your dog should accidentally consume some of your coffee? With a minimal amount ingested, the effects will likely be very mild. The dangerous element in the coffee is caffeine, which will manifest several of the same symptoms in your dog that it does in you: increased heart rate, for example. On the more dangerous side, however, caffeine consumption can lead to seizures in some dogs. Clearly, it’s to be avoided.
Should your dog accidentally ingest some coffee, much of his reaction will depend on your dog’s health and weight. Most cups of coffee contain far less than a lethal amount of caffeine for the smallest of dogs. However, should your dog wrestle a coffee filter full of spent grounds out of the trash or compost bin, for example, the caffeine in the grounds is much higher in concentration. A more serious reaction could occur in this case.
Signs and Symptoms of Caffeine Poisoning in Pets
If you think that your dog or cat may have swallowed enough caffeine to be dangerous, be aware of the following symptoms: restlessness, tremors, vomiting and more severe symptoms such as seizures. If your dog or cat has a serious heart condition, then ingesting caffeine (because of how it affects the animal’s heart) can be very serious, and may cause the dog to collapse.
According to Provet, caffeine becomes lethal at doses averaging 150 mg per every 2.2 pounds of your dog or cat’s body weight. Just for reference, your typical cup of regular drip coffee may contain as much as 100 mg of caffeine. This of course depends on the roast and the brand, and we here in PDX drink our fair trade certified, all organic coffee pretty strong, even when it’s drop.
Treating a Dog or Cat That’s Ingested Coffee
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic potion that you can give your pet after they’ve ingested caffeine. In serious cases, your vet will likely induce vomiting to ensure all of the coffee is voided from the animal’s stomach. This is only recommended in cases where you believe your dog has ingested serious amounts of caffeine, which can also come from other products such as tea, soda, ice cream, or even some diet pills. A few licks around the inside of your near-empty cup of coffee shouldn’t be cause for alarm.
If seizures do occur, your veterinarian may opt for an anti-seizure medication or other drugs to ensure the animal’s blood pressure is lowered to safe levels.
This article has been researched and written by representatives of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Diamondback Drugs. We specialize in the art and science of veterinary compounding.