Is Coffee Bad For My Dog?

Can she steal a sip of your latte? ☕

dogs and coffee

While the perfect cup of coffee in the morning might get you through the day, it’s NOT a ritual you should be sharing with your pup.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Stephanie Austin, a veterinarian at Bond Vet in New York City, and Dr. Corinne Wigfall, a veterinarian working with SpiritDog Training, to find out more about dogs and coffee.

Why is coffee bad for dogs?

In regards to the dangers of coffee, the risk comes from the caffeine found in that morning cup.

“Unlike people, dogs are full of energy and need no extra help with an energy boost from chemicals,” Dr. Wigfall told The Dodo. “Their bodies are not used to processing such high levels of stimulants, and thus the effects can be considerable.”

Since caffeine is found in more places than just coffee, it’s important that your dog stays away from all caffeine sources.

“Coffee contains caffeine, [and] caffeine contains substances called methylxanthines, which are [also] found in cacao seeds [the source of chocolate], the fruit of the plant,” Dr. Austin told The Dodo.

According to Dr. Austin, those methylxanthines can cause serious health issues for your pup, which is why dogs should stay away from all caffeinated items (including chocolate).

So if a dog ingests tea bags, coffee grounds or diet pills, for example, this can easily lead to caffeine poisoning or even death, especially for smaller dogs — so vets advise staying totally away from it.

Common sources of caffeine

Caffeine can be hiding in lots of foods besides your morning espresso, including:

  • Coffee ice creams
  • Chocolate
  • Energy drinks
  • Candy bars
  • Soda
  • Tea
  • Diet pills
  • Energy pills or boosters

Signs of caffeine toxicity in dogs

If your dog snuck a little too much coffee, you might notice signs of caffeine toxicity.

“When coffee is ingested by pets, the methylxanthines can cause gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea,” Dr. Austin said.

Other symptoms of caffeine poisoning in dogs include:

  • Panting
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Death

“It is VERY important that you do not give your pet coffee or chocolate for these reasons, and if your pet has ingested either of these substances, you should contact your veterinarian immediately,” Dr. Austin said.

What to do if you suspect caffeine toxicity in your dog

When it comes to something as serious as caffeine toxicity, there’s no time to waste in getting your pup help.

“If you suspect caffeine toxicity in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661,” Dr. Wigfall said.

How much caffeine will harm your dog?

It depends on the weight of your dog and the amount of caffeine she ingested.

“One or two sips of coffee probably won't [show] major clinical signs, but the ingestion of a weight loss pill could potentially be fatal to your dog,” Dr. Wigfall said. “The toxic dose in dogs is approximately 140 milograms/kilograms, but each dog is different, so signs may be seen at lower doses.”

Keep in mind that every dog will react to coffee differently, which means that even just a few sips can make her sick — so it’s best to have your pup stay away from it.

And while your dog’s body weight and the amount of caffeine ingested play a part in the severity of her reaction, it’s always better to be safe and seek professional advice if your dog has eaten anything that may have contained caffeine.

What about decaf coffee?

Believe it or not, decaf coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.

While there’s a good chance your pup will be perfectly fine after some mild symptoms, it’s best to double-check with a vet, as you can’t always tell how much your sneaky pup ate or how she’ll react — and always keep any caffeinated substances out of your dog's reach.