Why You Should Take Fido To A Veterinarian He Drinks Your Coffee

Most people consume caffeine daily, in one form or other. According to the FDA, the average adult in the U.S. has 200 mg of caffeine each day. This is fine for people, but such levels of caffeine are not safe for dogs to drink. If Fido gets into your coffee, you may need to take him to take him to an emergency veterinarian. Here's what to do if your dog consumes a lot of caffeine.

Caffeine is Poisonous to Dogs

Caffeine affects how dogs' nervous systems function. While it has similar effects in humans, dogs have a much lower tolerance for the chemical, and its effects are seen at much lower doses. Just a little caffeine may result in:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • tremors and twitches
  • increased heart rate

At higher concentrations, caffeine poisoning has even more disconcerting symptoms. Consuming a lot of caffeine can lead to seizures and difficulty breathing. Provet's research shows that at 150 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram), it's lethal to dogs.

Dogs Rarely Reach Lethal Caffeine Levels

Dogs rarely reach lethal caffeine levels. The Mayo Clinic says an 8-ounce cup of coffee can have up to 200 mg of caffeine. Even if Fido drinks a full cup of coffee, though, few dogs only weigh 2 or 3 pounds. A 10-pound dog would have to consume 1,500 mg of caffeine, or a full pot of coffee, to reach lethal levels.

Occasionally, however, dogs can reach lethal levels of caffeine poisoning. For instance, your dog might:

  • be a toy breed that weighs only 2 or 3 pounds and drink a cup of coffee
  • eat coffee grounds in the garbage
  • eat chocolate covered coffee beans

The amount of caffeine in coffee grounds and chocolate covered coffee beans is much higher than the levels in brewed coffee, so they can be lethal to even large dogs.

Take Your Dog to the Vet

Non-lethal levels can still be problematic, so you should take your dog to the vet even if it only had a little caffeine. The signs of caffeine poisoning set in one or two hours after the chemical's been ingested. You don't want to wait for symptoms like vomiting, seizures and rough breathing to develop before you go to the veterinarian, though. You ought to be at a vet hospital by the time serious symptoms develop.

There's no treatment for caffeine poisoning, itself, but a pet hospital will be able to address the symptoms -- including the serious ones. Depending on how much caffeine your dog consumed, a veterinarian might:

  • administer anti-seizure medication
  • prescribe blood-reducing medicine
  • induce vomiting

If you arrive at the veterinarian before all the caffeine enters your dog's blood, the third option, inducing vomiting, can reduce the severity of the caffeine poisoning. Whether this step is necessary will depend on the veterinarian's professional assessment of your pooch's situation.

All veterinarians know how to treat animals for caffeine poisoning, so you can bring your dog to the most convenient animal hospital. If it ingests caffeine during business hours, the pet hospital you normally go to for treatment will be find. Should it eat coffee beans or grounds late at night or over the weekend, though, you can't wait for a practice to open on the next business day. Instead, you need to find a nearby emergency vet who will be able to treat your pooch in the next hour or two.

Dogs should never have caffeine. It may cause several symptoms or, in rare cases, be lethal. Although reaching deadly levels of caffeine poisoning in dogs is rare, you should bring your pooch to a vet immediately after it ingests caffeine. A veterinarian will be able to treat any symptoms that may arise.