Your dog looks to you for guidance or advice. They see you as a parental figure, and most kids look to their parents as role models. If you drink coffee regularly, your dog might be curious about what you’re drinking.
Coffee is not as benign as the occasional slice of turkey from your sandwich or a bite of cheddar from your charcuterie board. It doesn’t offer your dog any vital nutrients, and it may be dangerous for their cardiovascular health. If your dog managed to get a taste of your coffee, here’s what you need to know.
Is It Safe for Dogs To Drink Coffee?
It’s never safe for your dog to drink coffee. Ideally, your dog should never ingest any caffeine. Dogs are designed to play intensely and promptly drop into long naps to replenish their energy. They don’t need any help from an outside source.
The only thing dogs need to drink is fresh water. There may be some occasions where a veterinarian recommends softening dog food with bone broth, like after dental surgery or when your dog is recovering from an illness. Outside of these occasional instances, water is the only liquid your dog needs.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much Caffeine?
If your dog happens to ingest caffeine, research suggests that a dose of 150 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight can be fatal. To put this number into perspective, the average cup of coffee you brew at home contains a little less than 100 mg of total caffeine.
Specialty coffee drinks can contain up to 350 milligrams of caffeine per 16 ounces. These drinks are often made with espresso, which is far more concentrated than drip brew coffee. The result is a much higher caffeine content per ounce than the more diluted standard ground coffee.
If your 45-pound dog drinks an entire 16-ounce specialty coffee drink, the dosage of caffeine wouldn’t be considered lethal. That doesn’t mean it isn’t toxic. You should still take the situation seriously and closely monitor your dog.
What Are the Signs of Caffeine Toxicity in Dogs?
Dogs who consume too much caffeine will share many of the same symptoms as humans who consume too much caffeine. People often describe the sensation as feeling jittery or anxious. Your dog will experience something similar.
- Tremors or shaking
- Elevate heart rate
- Lethargy (after the caffeine begins to wear off)
Excessive caffeine consumption can be fatal for dogs. It can also cause seizures. Dogs with conditions impacting their heart health and elderly dogs may be more likely to show severe signs of caffeine toxicity.
What To Do if Your Dog Drinks Coffee
If your dog drinks coffee, the next step is to monitor your dog. If you spill a little bit of your coffee on the floor or the table and your dog laps it up, it’s very unlikely that your dog will experience any symptoms at all.
A tablespoon or so of coffee contains a negligible amount of caffeine. It may produce some mild effects in very small dogs. Large dogs are unlikely to act any differently.
If your dog drinks a significant amount of coffee, like by poking their snout directly into your coffee cup, you need to monitor for symptoms of caffeine toxicity. If you notice signs that your dog may have consumed too much caffeine, you should call your dog’s veterinarian.
There is no specific way to treat caffeine toxicity in dogs. Once the caffeine enters your dog’s bloodstream, the effects need to run their course. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications that can work quickly to control blood pressure or prevent seizures if necessary. Your veterinarian may also induce vomiting to prevent caffeine in your dog’s stomach from being absorbed into their bloodstream.
Don’t attempt to induce vomiting on your own with instructions you’ve found on the internet. If necessary, your veterinarian will walk you through the process or ask you to bring your dog in for urgent care.
What If the Coffee Was Decaf?
If the coffee your dog drank was decaf, you should still monitor your dog for signs of caffeine toxicity. Decaffeinated coffee isn’t completely free from caffeine. Decaffeination removes up to 97 percent of the caffeine from coffee, leaving somewhere between two and six mg of caffeine per cup.
Although most of the caffeine has been removed, the small amount that remains may still be harmful to smaller dogs if they drink a significant amount of coffee. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s a good idea to watch carefully in case your dog experiences a negative reaction.
Was It a Mocha Latte?
If your dog drank your mocha coffee drink, your dog drank chocolate. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs. If your dog only consumed a very small amount, you should keep them under close supervision.
If it’s possible that your dog may have ingested a significant amount of chocolate, contact the Pet Poison Helpline for further instructions. Your dog may need emergency intervention. It’s important to act quickly.
What if My Dog Eats Coffee Beans or Grounds?
Coffee beans and coffee grounds have a much higher concentration of caffeine than brewed coffee drinks. Brewed coffee and espresso dilute caffeine with water. The rest of the caffeine is concentrated.
Coffee grounds aren’t delicious. There’s nothing about them that would smell appealing to dogs, which means they’re unlikely to gobble them up out of curiosity. It’s more likely that your dog would inadvertently eat coffee grounds, attempting to dig something else out of the trash.
You should always safely dispose of your coffee grounds to prevent your dog from accidentally eating them. You should call the Pet Poison Hotline or your vet if your dog eats coffee beans or coffee grounds.
Potentially Dangerous Coffee Additives
Caffeine is not the only ingredient in your coffee that may be dangerous to your dog. If you’re monitoring your dog’s wellness after they’ve accidentally ingested coffee, consider the side effects that other ingredients may cause. It’s important to have as much information as possible if you need to consult with a veterinarian.
Artificial sweeteners can be dangerous for dogs. Xylitol is known to be highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts.
Even if you don’t add sweetener packets to your coffee, your latte may still contain artificial sweeteners from low-fat, flavored, or sugar-free coffee creamer products. Read the ingredients on the label of your coffee creamer to check for the presence of artificial sweeteners.
Macadamia Nut Milk or Flavoring
Macadamia nut milk and macadamia flavored lattes are perfectly fine for humans to enjoy, but macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Almond and oat milk aren’t necessarily good for dogs, but they aren’t toxic to your dog’s digestive system.
Anything Mocha or Chocolate
Mocha flavoring is chocolate, which is highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. This includes white chocolate mocha and peppermint mocha flavoring or coffee creamer. White chocolate contains similar amounts of the compound theobromine, the naturally occurring component of chocolate that’s toxic to your dog.
Dogs can be lactose intolerant. If food or treats made with cheese cause gastrointestinal distress for your dog, consuming any dairy product intended for humans will cause the same reaction.
Lactose intolerance will likely cause temporary digestive upset that will naturally resolve once the dairy has passed through your dog’s system. It rarely becomes an urgent situation.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Flavoring
Pumpkin spice is a blend of spices like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Nutmeg is toxic to dogs. Although a little bit of pumpkin-flavored creamer or syrup only contains a small amount of nutmeg, it doesn’t take much of a toxic food to cause a serious reaction.
In Conclusion: Be Cautious With Dogs and Coffee
Your dog is a member of your family. ElleVet Sciences firmly believes that your pets deserve the best care possible. We also understand the temptation to share certain treats with your dog. In many cases, it’s okay for your dog to have a small bite of healthy human food. It’s never safe for your dog to have coffee.
If your dog manages to get a small sip of your coffee or to find a small splash of spilled coffee somewhere, it’s unlikely to cause significant harm. If your dog drinks a lot of coffee, eats coffee grounds, or consumes coffee that contains ingredients that may be toxic to dogs, you should closely monitor your dog for signs of serious side effects.