The substance in coffee that makes it a popular morning pick-me-up, caffeine, is also one of the reasons why you should never allow your dog to drink it. People have a much higher caffeine tolerance than dogs, so the beverage that stimulates your nervous system and heart can actually be quite harmful for your pup.
Accidents happen, especially if your dog is an inquisitive sort of animal that likes to taste whatever her human friends are sipping and munching. If your dog drinks coffee, you’ll want to know how to make sure it’s not a fatal mistake.
You might not witness your dog actually drinking the coffee, and so you might only notice something is wrong when she starts to show symptoms of caffeine poisoning. If your dog begins to act agitated or hyperactive or starts to shake or pant for no apparent reason and there is a coffee within its reach, it’s possible she ingested some. Other symptoms include heightened nervousness, vomiting, and a rapid heartbeat. Remember, coffee will stimulate your dog the same way it will stimulate you, but for her it’s a poison.
Generally speaking, a single cup of coffee contains between 95 and 165 milligrams of caffeine. Restless behavior can occur in a dog that has consumed 14 milligrams of caffeine per pound of body weight. Fatal doses are possible starting at 23 milligrams of caffeine per pound.
Take it seriously
Amanda Payne from Coffee-Channel says, “It’s not a laughing matter if your dog drinks coffee because, depending on the size of your dog and the caffeine concentration in your coffee, even a little can be fatal.” Just as you’d call Poison Control or the family doctor if your child ingests something poisonous, your first step if your dog drinks coffee should always be to call your veterinarian. If you don’t have a veterinarian, you can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Line at (888) 426-4435.
When you do, make sure that you know your dog’s weight, breed, and the amount of coffee she drank. That will let your vet know if your dog will need emergency care, or if you can probably get by with treating your dog at home. If your vet says bring your dog to the vet, do it promptly. There is no antidote to caffeine poisoning, and the symptoms can start to show in as little as half an hour, so your vet will want to start treatment immediately.
In the home
If you get in touch with either your veterinarian or a poison control line, and they don’t tell you that your dog needs to be seen immediately, follow their instructions completely. That will probably mean closely monitoring your animal for signs of caffeine poisoning. Do that for as long as you are directed to.
Remember that there is no antidote to caffeine poisoning, so it’s very important to get the dog to see a trained veterinarian. Rather than administering a silver bullet cure, they will probably induce your dog to vomit in hopes of expelling any unabsorbed caffeine. They might also feed your dog a special kind of charcoal to absorb what caffeine might not be purged by vomiting, remaining instead in the stomach. They might also give your dog a sedative to calm her if she is showing signs of agitation, keep tabs on her blood pressure, and give her extra fluids to help flush out the caffeine.
Flushing the system
Your veterinarian might also suggest that you allow your dog to drink extra water so that she has to urinate more frequently. Most of the caffeine will leave your dog’s system within 24 to 48 hours, but it can happen more quickly if your dog receives extra fluids to help flush the poison from her body. As the owner, be prepared to spend extra time walking your dog to promote this process.
Once your dog has eliminated the poison from her body, the final step in care is to prevent it from happening again. You are probably already pretty mindful that dogs are inquisitive eaters and can eat a lot of something in a real hurry. Make sure that you don’t put your dog in the position again where she might wonder what that yummy-smelling liquid is that you’re always sipping and whether it’s any good. Additionally, keep your dog out of the coffee grounds and away from any caffeine pills you have around the house, too. If you take these precautions, you can still enjoy a cup of joe while saving yourself plenty of stress and potential heartache in the long run.