Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

As the weather cools down, the yummy scent of special coffees fill their air waves.  Most pet parents know that chocolate is toxic to dogs due to methylaxanthines, including theobromine and caffeine.  Both of these substances stimulate the central nervous system and increase heart rate.  They also have diuretic effects in that they increase urine production, and they are quickly absorbed by the canine body yet tend to linger as dogs can’t readily break them down.  Some people get anxious, even jittery, when they’ve had too much coffee, so this effect is amplified in our dogs who are generally smaller than us.

What Products Contain Caffeine?

Caffeine can be found in more than just tea and coffee, so it’s important to always get down on all fours to make double dog sure that candies and medications can’t fall into paws reach.  Vitamin supplements, especially those designed to take before a work-out or to keep you on your feet, weight loss medications, energy drinks, many sodas, chocolate and yummy chocolate-coated espresso beans all contain enough caffeine to be detrimental to your dog.  Even pain meds, such as Excedrin, contain caffeine, and according to Yard & Home, so does the cocoa bean mulch that you may add to your potted plants or flower beds.


Signs of Too Much Caffeine

If your pooch sneaks a slurp of your morning coffee, it’s pretty unlikely it will make him sick, yet according to the Pet Poison Helpline, consuming coffee grounds, tea bags or just 1-2 caffeine-containing diet pills could be deadly in small dogs and cats!


Typically, symptoms appear 30 minutes to a couple hours after consumption, so be on the look-out for:


  • Restlessness or hyperactivity
  • Elevated heart rate and/or abnormal rhythms
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors, seizures
  • Collapse


What to Do

If you even suspect your pooch has eaten anything containing caffeine, seek emergency veterinary care at once.  You may be told to induce vomiting before heading to the vet, or the clinic may suggest you let them do it.  An alternative might be for your dog’s medical professional to administer activated charcoal which will bind to the caffeine.  Then IV fluids will help flush his system with the aid of a urinary catheter to empty the bladder.  This extra step is helpful as caffeine can be reabsorbed through the bladder wall, so all efforts to remove it from your dog’s body can contribute to the best recovery.


Other symptoms will be treated as depending on what presents:  sedatives to calm, drugs to stop seizures and medications to stabilize your dog’s heart rate.


Read labels and keep all things containing caffeine out of paws reach.  It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your four-legged family members.