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Is Coffee Bad For Dogs?

September 29, 2009 by Bethany Ramos

Today, there are roughly 78.2 million dog owners in the US. This means that an impressive 39% of American households have at least one dog to call their own. In fact, 28% of dog owners have two dogs or more.

Can You Protect Man’s Best Friend from Household Dangers?

When you dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that dogs are called man’s best friend for a reason. Not only have dogs been used for years as part of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, but five different families in the US and Canada were saved by their dogs in household fires from January 19-31, 2008. How’s that for impressive?

If your pooch has been by your side through thick and thin, it only makes sense that you would want to return the favor. Maybe you often take your pup for a run in the park, buy him his favorite treats, and scratch his belly after a long day.

But what many dog owners neglect to consider is how curious these four-legged creatures can be. If you leave your dog alone for a minute – that’s it. You can kiss your favorite shoes, handbag, or wallet goodbye. Likewise, dogs are well known for digging in the trash to get just a few delicious morsels of food as an afternoon snack.
If you take a moment to search the Internet for how to deal with a dog pawing through the trash, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a common issue that most pet owners face at one time or another. Even with the proper Caesar-Milan-inspired training, your dog may still succumb to a moment of weakness and decide to dine and dash – after knocking over your kitchen trash.

Although the “naughty” behavior may seem innocent, who knows what your dog will uncover in the garbage? Before you know it, your dog may have eaten something toxic yet oh-so-delicious: a common household substance that has been known to cause hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, and even seizures in some pups. By now, you can guess where we’re going with this.

Coffee is a hidden household danger that could cause fatalities in some small dogs. – (tweet this)

Before you give up your coffee drinking habit altogether, hold the phone. Instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, you can read on to learn 5 important reasons why coffee could harm your dog. You’ll also find out what symptoms to watch out for if your dog has already done the unthinkable and has eaten coffee grounds out of the trash.

5 Ways That Caffeine Affects Your Dog: Serious Warning Signs to Watch Out For

Or, maybe you’re one of the lucky few that has your pet perfectly trained. But that still doesn’t mean that your pooch doesn’t have a few strange habits, like drinking out of your coffee cup as you snuggle together on the couch in the morning.

As cute as this bonding ritual may be, it’s never a good idea to give a dog coffee, under any circumstance. Though your dog may have had a cup of Joe or two without any visible side effects, it’s yet another case of “better safe than sorry.”

Now onto the reason why we’re all here… Caffeine falls in the category of methylxanthines, also found in chocolate – another toxic substance for dogs. If your dog ingests this toxin in high doses, it could cause a number of health issues like:

  1. Hyperactivity/Restlessness: Once a dog ingests caffeine, it will immediately affect the central nervous system. Even the mildest symptoms may include extreme hyperactivity and restlessness, regardless of the breed.
  2. Vomiting: As the body starts to reject the toxicity after ingesting caffeine, a dog may vomit or have diarrhea. These symptoms will normally occur within 24 hours as a moderate sign of a caffeine overdose.
  3. Irregular Heart Rate: When a human drinks coffee, caffeine immediately affects the central nervous system to help you perk up and feel more alert. What many pet owners don’t realize is that dogs metabolize coffee even more quickly to result in rapid breathing and an irregular heart rate.
  4. Poisoning: As the symptoms progress after a dog eats coffee grounds out of the trash, full-on poisoning may occur. Roughly 150 mg of caffeine per kilogram is considered to be a lethal dose of caffeine for a dog. Caffeine poisoning can alter the mood, increase respiration, and even cause tremors in some cases.
  5. Death: Although it is unpleasant to think about, one of the worst outcomes of a dog ingesting a large amount of caffeine is death. This is an especially high risk in small breeds that may react strongly to even a small dose of caffeine. According to Ask a Vet Question, if a dog consumes a full cup of coffee, it could be fatal.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Rule?

Even though you may be able to drink coffee to your heart’s content, make no mistake that a dog is much more sensitive to caffeine than a human being. Nonetheless, if you look forward to sharing a cup of Joe with your pup each morning, some vets reveal that a dog can drink decaf without any side effects. But… make sure that your dog doesn’t drink decaf with cream, which could cause gastrointestinal issues.

If your dog has been acting a little funny after digging through the trash, watch for classic symptoms of poisoning that may include:

  • Diarrhea and vomiting – caused by gastrointestinal distress
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of coordination
  • Seizures/collapse

At this point, it’s important to contact your veterinarian for help; your vet will likely request more information about your dog’s weight and how much coffee they’ve consumed. In an emergency, you may have to visit the ER, where your dog will be given charcoal to absorb toxins from the intestines – as was the case with this hyperactive Australian Shepherd who ate Nicaraguan coffee beans.

By keeping an eye on your pooch and keeping your trash sealed and locked up, you can prevent any disasters caused by a curious dog digging for scraps. Of course, coffee has a few benefits for dogs, as long as they’re not drinking it. Coffee can neutralize odors when used in a shampoo, as well as exfoliate to get rid of dry, itchy skin.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm

My Dachshund and Cocker Spaniel drink my coffee whenever I leave it unattended on the table and I haven’t noticed any serious side effects.


Christina October 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Honey I had a 16yr old Chow that drank a few sips out of my coffee cup every morning and it didn’t bother her a bit. I now have a 7yr old Chihuahua and 4 yr old Bichon that do the same and it hasn’t hurt either one of them. I don’t let them have more than a few sips but my dogs have survived things many would not. Like the 7yr old ate a whole “big” Aloe plant. The vet told me to just set by her and let her die. That there was nothing he could do for her. Well that was 5yrs ago and she is still very active. So I DON’T have much faith in vets.


Anonymous April 29, 2011 at 3:06 am

my dalmatian absolutely loves coffee and waits for me to let him finish the last bit in the cup and I have not seen any seizures or side effects…


Nicole, cocker spaniel care expert July 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I don’t know if it’s coincidence or cocker spaniels really love coffee, but like you, my Puffy ( english cocker spaniel) finishes my cup every morning. I do it on purpose and I don’t know, until I read this post, that caffeine aren’t good for dogs.


Kona Coffee Farmer October 18, 2011 at 6:43 am

Caffeine is actually produced by the coffee plant to deter insects to eat the fruit & beans. Some insects can still do that, but most shy away from them. Dogs can eat a lot of strange things, i.e. my 80 lbs Airedale finished half an orange traffic cone. But he would drink my coffee only because of the milk & sugar in it. However he loves to eat the whole coffee cherries right of the tree.


Anonymous October 30, 2011 at 8:24 am

My lab LOVES coffee! I usually let her finish the last little bit of mine. Perhaps I should just let her lick out my mug 🙂


Anonymous January 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm

My 10 month old lab finishes off my cuppa sometimes, or even when I leave it unattended. No side effects have arisen to my attention, and by the looks of the comments on this blog it hasn’t bothered many orher peoples dogs either.


Anonymous January 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm

It doesn’t say that giving your dog coffee is guaranteed to harm your dog, but it most certainly could. Just like with giving dogs chocolate, it isn’t guaranteed to harm or kill them, but you cant advise people that it’s okay to give it to them, even in moderation, because then if something was to happen to the dog, whoever advised that it was okay would be responsible. Regardless of if you can see any negative side effects or not, that doesn’t mean they aren’t occurring, as I seriously doubt you’re closely monitoring your dog’s heart rate every time you give him/her coffee. Everything like that is okay until the one time it isn’t.. So why take the chance? If you’re okay with taking the risk that your dog might fall over in a seizure because of something you willingly allowed them to have that they don’t actually need, then by all means.. Bring on the chocolate chip cookies & coffee. If not.. Best to leave it alone. Believe me.. I understand the desire to share everything you enjoy with your furry friends, but they simply don’t need a lot of the things we enjoy, especially when it can potentially harm them.. & yes, I’m speaking from experience. I assure you that your dog will be no less happy without these things & a lot more happy without seizures &/or death. =)


mandy January 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm

my mums jack russell lived until he was 21 years old and my mum swears it was because he had some of her cups of coffee everyday. now my 4 year old loves some of mine everyday and ill continue to give her it because she enjoys it as much as i do 🙂


szncorrea February 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

My cocker spaniel is 2 years 8 months and loves coffee. I don’t give it to him on a daily basis, but I do let him finish the little bit at the end of my cup about 3 times/week (I only drink 1 cup at home). Well, that’s stopping right now. I think Anonymous’ post (Jan 15, 7:36am) is right on the money, and I feel terrible for not checking up on this before allowing him to have it. I love the little guy and to think there’s even a 1% chance that my actions are harming him kills me. Why take a chance right? It’s not worth it. I don’t know what the long term effects may be, but it might have started harming him already. No more coffee for my little guy!


Sue May 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Thanks for all of the comments. I have a 7 month old Black Lab the “found” me when he was about 8 weeks. He had been hanging around the tire store where I had work done and the mechanics assured me that he was a stray. He had been there about a week. I have been noticing that he dances around me in the morning when I pour my coffee and I was thinking maybe the mechanics had given him some and it was a good experience for him. I love the big guy but I won’t take the risk of his health, besides he’s about as jazzed up as he needs to be and I really don’t think he needs the coffee jolt.


Anonymous May 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I had to look up giving coffee to a dog because I left mine unattended. Like little children they’ll get into anything. Like anonymous said anything can happen, just because it hasn’t happened YET doesn’t mean that it won’t, and if you love your dogs, best friends or member of the family don’t chance it because if you give your dog coffee that one time and it seizes your heart will break. Love your dog. Please don’t get your dog addicted to caffeine.


Anonymous July 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

sometimes I think these warnings are like those about seat belts, drinking outta a garden hose and bike helmets…i surrvived with a lot of things that are now taboo….


Anonymous September 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Dear Anonymous July 5 , 2012. I grew up with the same knowledge as you. But, now with studies new to us we know why it is safer to ride wearing your seat belt, we know that drinking from a garden hose can be deadly where before the research we just got sick and sometimes died, and most head injuries and bike fatalities or caused when people do not wear helmets and fall from there bikes and they don’t even have to be riding the bike just sitting on it and hitting the ground. And we now know caffeine is bad for dogs, just because we used to do it or can do it doesn’t mean it is right or good.


AngryPatriot5 November 11, 2014 at 4:46 am

Good for you; this is wise thinking. Unfortunately, most people don’t have that or even common sense. My stupid neighbor let her small terrier drink her coffee “cuz he wanted it.” Less than an hour after that, he had a huge seizure. Coffee is toxic for dogs and others. Do NOT give it to any other creature. It’s not their natural food, so keep it away from them.


rcsd May 18, 2014 at 12:23 am

For precise information on the dangers of coffee grounds in dogs check out this link:


Joel January 15, 2015 at 8:32 pm

My dog ate a pack of coffee ground and im not sure how much, he is 8 months a mixed breed of german Sheppard and a boxer. What should i do?


Christy R Johnson February 17, 2015 at 4:19 am

My minpin has been having seizures and my brother who breeds them told me that his vet said it ran in their blood lines and was a trait of the German minpin, I believed him but also did some research but his dogs get into the garbage all the time..another trait “If they can eat it, they will” anyway the past couple of seizures I’ve realized were shortly after my minpin got into my coffee…left in the vehicle while going in store etc…so i’m thinking it has something to do with it and my sister in law drinks coffee at home before work…hense grounds in the garbage… I believe I will make sure to keep my coffee out of reach from now on….


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