If your dog has eaten coffee grounds, first things first – don’t panic! Coffee grounds are toxic to dogs, but the size and health of your pooch determine the effect and degree of toxicity of consuming the discards of your favorite morning drink. Identifying how much coffee they’ve just had, keeping your pet calm, and contacting your vet is far more important than anything else. Don’t worry – we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to keep your best friend safe.
According to the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists, the toxic dosage for dogs is estimated at 140mg of caffeine per kilogram or 63mg per pound. A lick or two from your old cup won’t make much of a difference, but if your dog ate premium arabica coffee grounds or fresh beans, then it may be too much caffeine for them to handle.
What happens if my dog eats coffee grounds?
Your dog will display the same symptoms as a human, just with a faster progression. Dogs have a heightened metabolism but interpret nervous signals and circulatory cues the same as you or me. There’s very little chance that your dog has eaten enough caffeine to put their life at risk. All you need to do is make them feel comfortable while contacting your local vet for further instructions.
If your dog has just eaten a pod, coffee grounds, or fresh coffee beans, follow these basic instructions:
- Keep calm and take the coffee away.
- Write down everything that your dog has ingested, including quantities.
- Note the time and symptoms.
- Ensure your dog is somewhere that they feel calm.
- Call your closest, available vet.
- Provide as much info as possible.
What are the symptoms of eating coffee grounds?
Your dog will start showing symptoms of coffee ingestion within two hours. Depending on the amount of caffeine, they may be mild enough to ride out without treatment, but only your vet can make this call. Here are advanced symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Hyperactivity – A dog that can’t uncharacteristically stop moving could be suffering under the effects of caffeine.
- Erratic behavior – Twitching behavior, incessant barking, and any ongoing out-of-character activity could be caffeine sensitivity.
- Anxiety – If your dog just can’t seem to settle showing signs of anxiety, consider that they may have ingested something.
- Drooling – Caffeine can trigger drooling as your dog’s body temperature and thirst rise.
- Excessive thirst – Canines will naturally start drinking more water in an attempt to flush the toxin.
- Elevated body temperature – An elevated heartbeat and raised blood pressure will cause temperatures to spike.
- Diarrhea – As caffeine and theobromine work their way through your dog, they are likely to trigger diarrhea and possibly even vomiting.
- Increased heart rate – Caffeine will increase your pet’s heart rate, so watch for signs like excessive panting.
- Abnormal heart rate – As toxicity levels peak, the chance of an abnormal heart rate rises, which can be fatal or cause lasting damage such as stroke.
- Compulsive scratching – Caffeine antagonizes peripheral tissue causing excessive itchiness, especially at high concentrations.
- Loss of consciousness – Both caffeine and theobromine spur methylxanthine toxicity which can cause organs and the central nervous system to shut down.
- Seizures – Methylxanthine toxicity antagonizes the brain’s natural anticonvulsant adenosine when high toxicity levels are reached, which can trigger fatal seizures.
If your dog shows any of these signs, it’s vitally important to rush them to a vet. Vomiting may need to be induced so that they can flush the caffeine from their body without life-threatening damage. However, if two hours pass without any alarming symptoms, the danger has passed, and they should be fine.
How eating coffee grounds affects dogs
Caffeine is classified as a methylxanthine compound. When toxicity arises, central nervous system receptors and peripheral tissue are disrupted. Methylxanthine toxicity rapidly spreads through the body, causing bronchodilation and adenosine antagonism, which results in seizures.
A range of cardiovascular effects ensues as the body struggles to cope with methylxanthine toxicity affecting almost every organ. Coffee’s other component, theobromine, is also a methylxanthine. Intoxication causes arrhythmias, hypotension, gastrointestinal distress, and convulsions in animals, with a mortality rate as high as 10% for pets who’ve overdosed.
Will coffee grounds kill a dog?
Extracting coffee from coffee grounds is an extensive process. Making even a strong cup of coffee leaves an immense amount of caffeine present in the beans, which will stress your pet’s cardiovascular and nervous system if ingested. Caffeine is toxic to dogs and can be lethal if they ingest too much.
The ceiling for toxicity is determined relative to their breed and weight. At 20 mg per pound, the risk of severe illness such as organ failure and heart attack is high. At 75 to 100 mg per pound, you’re at the lethal dose with seizures being a high potentiality.
How is caffeine toxicity in dogs treated?
There isn’t a direct antidote to caffeine, but your vet may advise you to feed your dog activated charcoal to help flush it out of their system. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a vet may induce vomiting, and in severe cases, IV fluids will be administered. Various medications are used to treat symptoms such as seizures as they arrive – medication that isn’t available to loving pet owners at home.
How much caffeine is in coffee grounds?
Used coffee grounds supply an average of 3.59 to 8.09 milligrams of caffeine per gram, and there are seven grams of coffee in a cup. Leftovers from serving 5 to 8 people is a scary amount of caffeine to ingest for any animal.
My dog ate a bag of coffee beans. What do I do?
Coffee beans, coffee grounds, and other caffeine sources come with similar risks of toxicity. However, coffee beans (and their packaging) are large, making them difficult to digest. Your dog may end up with an intestinal blockage if they can’t pass the large, coarse beans. If any of the following symptoms arise, get your dog to the closest vet:
- Stomach pain
- Lack of energy
- Appetite loss
- Resting in strange positions
An increasing risk that comes with a dog eating a whole bag of coffee beans is that they’re gradually metabolizing more and more caffeine as a lengthy digestion period passes. We recommend that you seek veterinary advice if your four-legged friend has eaten that much coffee.
My dog ate a coffee pod. What should I do?
One coffee pod shouldn’t be enough to trigger too much concern but pay close attention to your pooch. In some instances with small dogs or dogs with underlying medical problems, even a tiny amount of caffeine can trigger extreme sensitivity. Cite the symptoms and give your vet a call to make sure you don’t need to come in, but most dogs should be fine. Wait and observe for two or more hours after calling your vet.
What to feed your dog after ingesting coffee?
A bland diet should be given to any dog that has experienced an upset stomach or eaten something they shouldn’t. Here are a few examples of foods to try in small amounts:
- Cooked chicken
- Bone broth
- Cooked cod
My dog ate decaf coffee grounds. Are they safe?
Decaffeinated coffee may not contain caffeine, but it has the exact same amount of theobromine which is toxic to dogs. Theobromine causes cardiotoxic effects and has been known to be lethal at low doses. Furthermore, the mildly acidic grounds will cause gastrointestinal discomfort and can result in blockages.
Is instant coffee toxic to dogs?
Instant coffee is toxic, just like any other source of caffeine and theobromine. There’s roughly 60 mg of caffeine in a single teaspoon of instant coffee. A small dog would need to lap up half a cup of coffee before they’d be at risk of caffeine or theobromine toxicity.
My dog loves coffee. Should I stop feeding it to him/her?
If you’re wondering whether dogs can drink coffee or not, remember that not everything that you can ingest is good for you. In the case of our canines, drinking coffee should never be encouraged. It causes inflammation in their gastrointestinal tract and nervous system and a range of other potential complications. Coffee contains both caffeine and theobromine, also present in chocolate, and both are toxic to dogs. Never allow coffee drinking let alone encourage it.
Why do dogs like coffee?
Your pooch is probably after the idea of drinking the same thing as his or her master while also being attracted to the sweetness and perhaps the creaminess. Dogs can taste bitter, salty, sweet, and sour, but they trust their sense of smell more, which will make them give your coffee a lick if they get a chance.
Other common sources of caffeine
If you’ve noticed caffeine toxicity symptoms in your dog but don’t find it likely that they got to any coffee, consider these common sources as well:
- Caffeinated soda drinks
- Caffeinated energy drinks
- Iced coffee
In the hours and days following recovery, your vet will advise that you pay extra attention to hydration. It’ll take about a week or so before they’re feeling themselves again. Support your pet with love and healthy nutrition, and a constant supply of freshwater, and they’ll be better in no time.
My dog ate coffee grounds yesterday, and I've only just realized. What do I do?
Symptoms of caffeine and theobromine toxicity manifest within the first hour or two after ingestion. Even an elderly dog with slow digestion will still metabolize the caffeine within no more than three to four hours. If a greater period has passed, keep a close eye on their health, but your dog should be in the clear and healthy. It’s unlikely they ingested enough to reach a toxic concentration.
Caffeine toxicity in other animals
Most undomesticated animals will avoid coffee. If a rat, feral cat, farm animal, or any other creature happens upon old coffee grounds, they’ll taste enough to know that it’s not good for them and get away safe. However, if your household pet, like a cat, has licked up some in search of creamy sweetness, keep in mind the same advice as for dogs.
Most cats will need to ingest around 0.05-ounces of beans, 1.5-ounces of coffee grounds, or a whopping (almost impossible) 45 ounces of decaf. The larger the cat, the more they’d need to ingest to suffer toxicity, but this guideline should give you a good idea how whether or not to get them to the vet. We advise calling for advice anyway.
Handling a canine caffeine emergency at home
Puppies and small dogs fall into the highest risk group for accidental caffeine toxicity. Keep your dog away from your coffee cup, and dispose of all grounds and your garbage responsibly. Methylxanthine poisoning will only occur when a dog has ingested an extreme amount of caffeine. In most cases, prompt treatment will ensure that your pup comes out a-okay.
Have you ever had to handle a coffee emergency in your household? We encourage you to share your tips and insight in the comments below.