My dog ate coffee grounds – Should I be Worried?

Dogs are the ultimate opportunists, gulping down a snack whenever they get a chance. But sometimes, they eat things they shouldn’t. You may be wondering if coffee grounds are one of those things dogs shouldn’t eat.

My Dog Ate Coffee Grounds…Now What?

Yes, coffee grounds can be bad for dogs. Caffeine has the same effect on dogs that it has on us. But they can’t tolerate it as well as we can, and it can seriously impact their health. So how is too much caffeine for dogs?  It depends on the size of the dog and the amount they ingested.  Generally, consuming 14 mg or more of caffeine per pound of body weight can put your dog in danger.  But because there’s almost no way to figure out how much your dog ingested, It’s best to take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Certain indicators let you know that your dog is feeling the effects of caffeine toxicity.

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive panting
  • Vomiting

Unfortunately, caffeine toxicity can show up in a more severe form: caffeine poisoning.  In this state, your dog may exhibit the above symptoms more intensely.  Additionally, your dog may experience:

  • Hypertension
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Symptoms will typically appear between 30 and 120 minutes of consuming the caffeine. So it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to see if it may be necessary to bring your dog in for care. If needed, the veterinarian can take steps to counteract the caffeine’s toxicity.

It’s important to remember that once an overload of caffeine has made its way into your dog’s bloodstream, it can become a very serious problem.  So it’s important to call your vet before symptoms have a chance to manifest.

 Not every encounter with caffeine will lead to toxicity or poisoning. Still, since not all dogs are affected the same way, it is very important to get a professional’s opinion.

If you can’t locate your vet or are unsure if medical treatment is in order, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline for guidance on what to do.  The good news: if detected and treated early or the symptoms are relatively mild, your dog should recover nicely.

What Makes Coffee Grounds So Dangerous for Dogs?

While not recommended, if your dog were to take a sip out of your coffee cup, it might suffer any consequences.  Consuming coffee grounds, however, can cause serious problems.  That’s because caffeine is especially toxic to pets in its most concentrated form.  Likewise, eating a teabag can have much more serious health consequences for a dog than taking a few swigs of the beverage in its brewed form.  Since you won’t know how your dog reacts to caffeine, it’s best to keep caffeine out of its reach in the first place.

How Is Caffeine Toxicity Treated?

The treatment for caffeine toxicity and poisoning depends on the severity of symptoms and how long it’s been since ingestion.  If you get your dog to the vet soon after eating the grounds, your pet’s healthcare provider will probably induce vomiting to get the caffeine out of the pup’s stomach, halting its progression through the body.  The vet may also administer activated charcoal to absorb any remaining caffeine to counteract its toxic effects.  

CAUTION: Some pet owners want to try inducing vomiting on their own.  But this is a bad idea unless you are a trained professional.  You could administer the wrong substance or provide the wrong amount. And other complications could arise even if you can get your dog to vomit.

IV fluids will also likely be an important part of your dog’s care regimen.  If it’s too late to induce vomiting, a veterinarian may put your dog on fluids to flush out the caffeine.  Fluids will also protect your dog from dehydration if he’s been vomiting.  

Your dog may require additional medications to manage the symptoms of toxicity or poisoning.  If your pup is having tremors or seizures, it will probably need anti-convulsants to stop them.  Your dog may also need treatment for high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat.

How To Protect Your Pet From Caffeine Toxicity

To protect your dog’s health, you will need to puppy-proof your home. Avoid giving the pooch things that you might consider a treat but are bad for them, like chocolate cake.

Keep coffee, tea, medication, and anything else that might be unsafe well out of your dog’s reach.  Dogs tend to eat just about anything they find, so don’t underestimate your pet’s ability to consume something out of the ordinary.

Pets get into a lot of things by rummaging through the garbage.  Make sure your trash cans have locked lids so your dog can’t go snooping around in them.

What Other Foods Aren’t Good for Dogs?

We’ve already covered coffee, and it’s pretty well-known that chocolate is toxic to dogs, too.  According to the Human Society, many foods enjoyed by humans are not good for dogs.  While consuming some of them may not warrant a trip to the vet, it’s still best to avoid them.  The list is longer than you might think.

Avocados.  Avocados contain persin, which causes dogs to vomit and have diarrhea.  The seeds can also obstruct the digestive system.

Dairy.  Partaking in dairy products may cause digestive upset and food allergies.

Sweet Treats.  Giving your dog sugary treats like cupcakes can make your pet overweight and prone to dental problems and diabetes.

  • Yeast Dough.  Yeast dough will rise in your dog’s stomach, causing pain.  Since alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation process, your dog could be poisoned by that as well.
  • Fruit Seeds and Pits.  These can become lodged in your dog’s intestines.  Pits from peaches and plums contain cyanide, which is poisonous to both people and pets.
  • Raw Eggs, Meat, or Fish.  They may contain bacteria that are harmful to dogs and humans.
  • Salt.  Too much salt can lead to excessive thirst and sodium ion poisoning, which can be fatal.  Symptoms include seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and elevated temperature.
  • Bones and Fat Trimmings.  Throwing your dog a chicken or pork chop bone may seem harmless, but it may pose choking hazards.  The fat trimmed from meat can give your pup pancreatitis.
  • Macadamia Nuts.  These nuts (and other treats that contain them) can trigger muscle tremors, hyperthermia, and weakness in their back limbs.
  • Onions and garlic.  Onions and garlic (in any form — powdered, raw, cooked — can cause anemia and even be fatal to dogs.
  • Grapes and raisins.  Consuming grapes and raisins can lead to vomiting, lethargy, depression and eventually, kidney failure.
  • Xylitol.  This low-calorie sweetener can be found in candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and diet foods.  It can cause your dog’s blood sugar to plummet and even lead to liver failure.  (Gum is a bad idea anyway because it can block your dog’s digestive tract).

FAQs

How long does caffeine remain in a dog’s system?

Caffeine can take 24-48 hours to make its way through your dog’s body.  But it can peak in the bloodstream in as little as 30 minutes to an hour after your pet consumes it.

What other sources of caffeine could my dog consume?

Caffeine appears in a variety of foods and other products intended only for human consumption.  Your dog may introduce caffeine to its system by ingesting tea, soda, chocolate, caffeine tablets, and diet pills.  

Is chocolate so harmful to dogs only because of its caffeine content?

No.  While caffeine can cause health problems, there’s another component of chocolate toxic to canines: theobromine.  Dogs can’t metabolize it as humans can.  In pets, the substance can cause digestive problems or even death.

Are caffeine and chocolate also toxic to cats?

Yes, to both.  Chocolate is even more toxic to felines than it is to dogs.  Since they’re picky eaters and can’t taste glucose, though, cats are less likely to succumb to illness from chocolate simply because they’re less likely to sample it in the first place.

What other beverages are a bad idea for dogs? While it may seem funny to offer your pup a sip of beer, alcohol is a no-no for dogs.  Sugary drinks should be avoided, too, for the same reasons we should avoid them. And as for milk, dogs can be lactose intolerant as well.

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