My dog ate a tea bag – Should I be Worried?

As you probably already know, dogs will eat just about anything.  So if you leave a tea bag lying around, your canine may wolf it down.

So what should you do if your dog swallows a teabag?  Your best bet is to consult a veterinarian immediately—  before your dog shows signs of distress.  Tea can be toxic to dogs.  The complications your dog could experience from ingesting tea depend on the kind of tea and how much it ate.   If the teabag causes an intestinal blockage, your dog may need surgery.  

My Dog Ate a Tea Bag…should I Be Worried?

Tea isn’t always harmful to dogs, but it does affect them and, in some cases, can lead to serious health problems.  If your beloved canine companion has swallowed a tea bag, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consult your veterinarian.  When you call, your pet’s healthcare provider will probably want to know your dog’s breed, when it ate the caffeine, and if the dog is showing any symptoms.

Not sure what a caffeine overdose looks like in dogs?  Here are some signs to watch for.

  • Hyperactivity
  • Nervousness
  • Agitation
  • Hypertension
  • Rapid heartbeat

More serious problems arise if your dog has caffeine poisoning.  Symptoms include:

  • Hyperthermia (high fever)
  • Panting
  • Shaking
  • Seizures

If the tea is negatively affecting your dog, one or more of these signs will manifest within an hour or two of ingestion.  Some of these symptoms can be hard to spot.  If your dog is constantly bouncing off the walls to begin with, you may not notice when its energy goes up a few more notches.  It usually takes the expertise of a professional to diagnose canine hypertension.

To be proactive about detoxing your dog as soon as possible, the vet may recommend getting your dog to vomit, which is a task not taken lightly, so if your vet suggests this, you should bring your dog to the clinic or animal hospital as soon as possible.  Even if the tea’s chemical properties don’t harm your pet, the bag can cause blockages in the digestive tract.  In that case, a veterinarian may decide an endoscopy or even surgery is the best option.  When bringing your pet in, take the tea box with you if possible so the vet can see the ingredients.

If you can’t track down your vet, there’s a Pet Poison Hotline you can call.

My Dog Ate Green Tea Bag. Is That Serious Too?

Green tea is frequently touted for its health benefits because it’s rich in antioxidants and plays a critical role in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.  Read the list of ingredients of some dog foods, and you may be surprised to see green tea on the label.  In specially-formulated dog foods, the tea provides the same health benefits to canines as it does to humans.  Teabags, though, are another matter.  Green tea in its natural state is not safe for dogs.  Like other teas, it contains caffeine and can produce the same negative effects as other brewed beverages.  Therefore, you should take the same preventive measures with green tea as you would with other varieties.

My Dog Ingested Peppermint Tea— Should I Be Concerned?

Peppermint has numerous benefits for humans, such as alleviating nausea, aiding in digestion, and reducing joint inflammation.  Scientific research, however, doesn’t give any indication that it has the same impact on dogs.  If your canine ingests peppermint tea or any other product derived from peppermint, he could show some of the symptoms listed above.  Things can get even more serious if your dog eats something peppermint-infused and inedible like a scented candle.

Swallowing a peppermint tea bag can be especially hazardous to your dog if the peppermint contains xylitol, which is toxic for canines.  If your dog swallows peppermint, contact your veterinarian in short order.  Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, a condition in which the blood sugar drops to dangerously low levels, leaving your dog susceptible to seizures, increasing weakness, and unconsciousness.  If left untreated, xylitol poisoning can be fatal.

If at all possible, bring the box the tea came in to your veterinarian.  Your pet’s care provider will want to check the ingredients to see if your dog consumed xylitol or anything else that could prove harmful.

My Dog Ate Chamomile Tea Bag.  Do I Still Need to Call the Vet?

For us, chamomile has a soothing, relaxing effect.  But for dogs, it can be toxic.  If your dog takes an occasional swig from your cup of chamomile, it may not suffer consequences.  But if your dog eats it frequently or in high concentrations — like what you’d find in a tea bag — the results can be dire.  Chamomile contains some highly toxic components to dogs: bisabolol, anthemic acid, tannic acid, and chamazulene.

Here are some indicators that your pup might have chamomile poisoning:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Hypersalivation
  • Bleeding
  • Dermatitis
  • Nosebleeds
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms warrant prompt medical attention.

How Is Caffeine Poisoning in Dogs Treated?

If your dog ingests moderate to high amounts of caffeine, your vet will likely take a multi-pronged treatment approach.  The practitioner may use activated charcoal to get your dog to vomit.  Then, your pup may need IV fluids to counteract the dehydration that can occur with vomiting.

The vet may also administer medication to lower the dog’s blood pressure.  If your pet is having seizures, he will probably need anti-convulsants to stop them.

Why is Chocolate So Harmful for Dogs?

While your dog may have a little nibble of chocolate and still be OK, the sweet substance can be toxic to him when ingested in larger amounts. That’s because chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that dogs can’t metabolize.  The effects chocolate will have on your pet depend on his weight and how much of the stuff he ate.  Chocolate can be especially hazardous if your dog is pregnant because its components can cross the placenta and reach the unborn pups.  If your dog is expecting or you’re not sure how much chocolate it ate, consult your veterinarian.

What Are Other Foods Toxic to Dogs?

Besides caffeine and chocolate, several other foods can be toxic to dogs.  These include avocados, garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, and macadamia nuts.  Dairy products can cause digestive problems, as can bones, which may also be a choking hazard.  Eating fat trimmed from meat can lead to pancreatitis.  Something as seemingly harmless as fruit seeds can cause digestive tract blockages.

Just as humans shouldn’t consume raw meat or eggs, they’re a bad idea for dogs too. Yeast dough and sweet and salty treats are also a no-no.

FAQs

Is chocolate bad for cats, too?

Yes.  Felines’ metabolisms make them even more susceptible to theobromine poisoning.  But kitties hardly ever get sick from chocolate because, being picky eaters who can’t taste glucose, they usually never touch the stuff in the first place.

What other drinks can harm a dog’s health?

Keep alcohol out of your pup’s reach.  Milk can cause diarrhea and other digestive complaints.  Your dog should not be sharing your soda can with you, either.  Sodas that contain caffeine are harmful for the same reason coffee and tea are.  The sugar in soda and other sweet drinks also poses health risks.

What are some common food allergies in dogs?

Many dogs experience food allergies.  The most common culprits are proteins like chicken and eggs, beef, lamb, soy, wheat gluten, and dairy.  It’s a good idea to pay careful attention to your pet’s diet, only giving him food specially formulated for dogs.

What are some symptoms of food allergies in dogs?

If your dog has a food allergy, she’ll probably have itchy skin and possibly also diarrhea.  But other signs may be harder to detect, such as weight loss, low energy, aggression, and hyperactivity.

How does a vet diagnose food allergies in dogs?

To test for allergies, a vet will probably put your pup on an elimination diet for eight to twelve weeks.  The diet can’t contain any foods or ingredients your dog has consumed previously, which helps the vet figure out whether those foods are triggers.  Your vet may also opt to administer serum IgE tests, blood tests that identify allergies.

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