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Could your Morning Coffee be Dangerous for your Dog?

Published on February 29, 2016

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Caffeine: Great for you, Bad for your Canine Companion

I am quite fond of both coffee and recycling.  Imagine my surprise when one day I was at a coffee shop and saw a sign advertising coffee grounds being recycled as garden soil and alarm bells started going off in my head.  While I applaud the effort to recycle the grounds, I found myself wondering what would happen if a neighborhood dog thought they smelled delicious and ate some from the garden.

Why Coffee is Dangerous

Coffee, like chocolate, poses a real toxic threat to dogs.  Caffeine is part of a group of compounds called methylxanthines. I always explain this group of toxins as causing an extreme stimulant effect – think of yourself after 5 cups of coffee and pulling an all-nighter in school and multiply that effect by 10 and you’ll start to understand how these compounds affect our furry friends.  The following signs can be seen after ingestion:

  • tremors, shakes, hyper-excitability
  • very rapid heart rate and arrhythmias
  • elevated blood pressure
  • seizures

As if these aren’t bad enough, following chocolate exposure, dogs can also develop pancreatitis, which results in severe gastro-intestinal symptoms.  Seizures and cardiac arrhythmias can be so severe that they can be fatal.

Treatment is Vital

Treatment for caffeine toxicity involves the following:

  • triggering vomiting and using activated charcoal to keep the toxins from entering the body
  • administering fluids to hydrate the body and help with removal of toxins
  • medications to calm the symptoms of poisoning

It often amazes me that such intense supportive measures are needed for treatment of something such as coffee or chocolate which we as people enjoy on a regular basis. Sadly, this is a concept we regularly face in veterinary medicine:  dogs and cats are inherently different than people and everyday objects in our life can pose significant toxic risks in theirs.  If your pet has been exposed to coffee, chocolate, or any other substance you think may be toxic, please contact us here at Pender for immediate assistance.

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