The coffee bean. To us humans it stands for energy, creativity, inspiration and is at the heart of social gathering, from business meetings to first dates. No matter what our horoscope sign is, the coffee bean is the allegoric birthstone that connects us all.
The same rules, however, do not apply for your canine. In fact, the complete opposite applies!
Can Dogs Drink Coffee? Or Is Coffee Bad For Dogs?
Dogs should NEVER drink coffee or eat coffee beans or grounds. Never. That said, you and I both know that dogs do things that they are not supposed to – well, far too often.
It is our obligation as dog owners to stand at the ready for any possible emergency. We can never be too prepared. Coffee consumption is one of the possible events we must prepare for.
This is because coffee can be lethal to your canine, resides in the kitchens of our homes and is a part of morning and afternoon routines worldwide.
I repeat, coffee can be lethal. In fact, if you are a coffee lover – sipping on some Kenyan or Blue Mountain– you have even more reason to worry!
When it comes to the potent beans, 2-3 teaspoons could be enough to poison your canine and lead to acute complications.
Here is the need-to-know information on the lethal dosage, what would happen if your dog were ever to consume coffee (in any form), measures to take to avoid such, and how to react if you ever find yourself in the predicament.
The key to survival for your canine in these type of situations is anticipation. Read on and stay informed!
Why Is Coffee Bad For Dogs?
Coffee is a stimulant, amongst many other things. That’s why Starbucks is jam packed in the wee hours of the morning.
Unfortunately for your canine, coffee can cause disturbances in the functions of major organs and will wreak havoc on the following:
HEART: When absorbed into the bloodstream, caffeine increases your dog’s heart rate, in a dangerous way; not only does their heart start to beat faster, it beats in an irregular pattern.
Jeffrey Goldberger, M.D., of Northwestern University conducted a study that proved that only 25mg/kg of caffeine in dogs significantly heighted the chances of ventricular fibrillation.
V-fib is a very dangerous heart rhythm irregularity that exists, one that can lead to cardiac arrest.
For your canine, coffee sets the stage for a heart attack.
KIDNEYS: One of the symptoms listed above is increased blood pressure. A secondary effect of fluctuations in blood pressure is unnecessary stress on the kidneys.
The kidneys are also closely associated with the bladder, which is where the caffeine from the coffee absorbs into the bloodstream.
The caffeine in coffee is a diuretic – in plain English, it will make your dog pee. Quite a bit.
If your dog pees too much, dehydration will result. In extreme cases, a high dosage of coffee can cause your dog’s kidneys to shut down, resulting in kidney disease or renal failure.
BEHAVIOUR, CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS): If your dog starts to become restless and beings to buzz around like a ping pong ball, the CNS is definitely being effected.
Furthermore, muscle tremors, pacing, seizures and coma are further sure tell signs to the disturbances happening in the CNS.
Your dog’s body will begin to do everything that it can to rid itself of the toxicity. That means the onset of vomiting and diarrhea.
Most worrisome, is that the CNS controls your dog’s lungs. If toxicity levels are high enough, the breathing pathway can be paralyzed (as it is a muscle) and cause your canine to stop breathing.
Why should Spot stay away from coffee? It’s the caffeine. More specifically, it’s a component in the caffeine called methylxanthine.
This is the complex component which poses a danger and is the same one found in chocolate. We all know the adage says we should never give our dog chocolate because it is bad for them. For the same reason, coffee is too.
And just our luck, dogs absorb caffeine into their bloodstream far more quickly and efficiently than we do.
Now, onto the most important question, “What is the lethal dose?”. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the lethal dose is 140 mg/kg, or 140 mg/2.2lbs, as 1kg equals 2.2lbs.
To give you an idea of what 140 mg of coffee looks like, it’s a strong mug full of your preferred blend. But remember, the calculation is 140mg/kg of weight – so the lethal amount depends on how much your dog weighs.
The smaller your dog, the less coffee it would take for grave complications to present. If you have a 5lb dog, the lethal dose looks like 2 strong mugs of coffee, if your dog is 10lbs it would be 4 mugs and so forth.
Keep in mind, this is the lethal dosage calculation. Serious physiological consequences can and will present far before this threshold. In fact, 10mg/kg or 10mg/2.2lbs is enough for minor symptoms to strike.
Symptoms You Should Stay On The Lookout For
If you have the slightest hunch that your dog got a hold of some coffee, these are the symptoms to be on the lookout for. FYI, they begin within minutes of consumption and may last for up to 12 hours, depending on the degree of severity:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased urination
- Pupil dilation
- Unquenchable thirst
- Muscle tremors
If your canine experiences a seizure, this is an indicator that the dosage consumed was near-lethal. Seek out your vet ASAP.
In fact, I advise you to zip to the vet office on the onset of any combination of the above symptoms!
When it comes to coffee consumption, immediate treatment is crucial in ensuring survival.
For treatment to be effective concerning lethal doses, it needs to occur within 2 hours of ingestion. This is a battle against the clock.
You are going to have to rush your dog over to the vet. There, they will induce vomiting.
This is so that your dog does not continue to have caffeine absorbed in their bloodstream through their bladder.
After forcing your canine to vomit, your vet will most likely give them charcoal. The charcoal absorbs whatever caffeine remains in their system.
Vetary, confirms “The benefit of activated charcoal is that it works for a wide variety of toxins and can be beneficial as a treatment even before the cause of toxicity is known”.
After giving your canine charcoal, your vet will administer IV fluids to combat any dehydration caused by the vomiting.
Be prepared for at least one overnight stay, at minimum. The sooner measures of treatment are applied, the better chances for your canine.
Prevention is always preferred. Avoid risks. Conceal your coffee from your canine! Keep those crushed beans sealed in a safe place, on high counter tops.
When you dispose of the used filters full of grounds be sure to close the waste bin.
Almost all noted occurrences of lethal consumption, were due to beans and grounds being consumed – not poured coffee.
The Bottom Line
It is our responsibility to protect our canines, even from themselves! And especially from death by caffeine.
Part of that obligation is being ready for the worst and expecting the best.
I know that some of you align with the philosophy, dogs are human too. But, take my word for it, when it comes to caffeine dogs are hypersensitive.
Coffee may be the morning elixir we humans need to get our butts moving, but for our canines, coffee is their bane.