There's a long list of foods and drinks that are dangerous to dogs -- and coffee ranks pretty high on that list. If your dog gets into your coffee, you should rush him to the vet, especially if he drank a full cup.
Coffee is a source of caffeine, which in large amounts can be very dangerous to dogs. How much is too much depends on many factors, such as the size of your pets and whether your dog only lapped the coffee or actually ingested coffee grounds, which contain a much higher amount of caffeine. According to Provet, caffeine is lethal at a dose of 150 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight. A cup of percolated coffee can contain up to 100 mg of caffeine, depending on brand. Decaf coffee is safe.
Signs of Poisoning
The first signs of caffeine poisoning appear one to two hours after ingestion. Depending on how much coffee your dog consumed, the symptoms could go from mild inconveniences to a severe, rush-to-the-vet emergency. Common signs of a coffee overdose include vomiting, tremors, restlessness and rapid heart rate. In severe cases, seizures can appear. It's possible for dogs to collapse if high amounts of caffeine have been ingested.
There's no antidote for caffeine poisoning in dogs, so the best you -- or your vet -- can do is induce vomiting. Only do this if you think your dog has consumed a lot of coffee -- lapping at your coffee cup a few times doesn't count. In serious cases, your vet might give your pet anti-seizure medication or drugs to lower blood pressure. Your pet might also need to be sedated and stay in the hospital under observation until all symptoms have disappeared.
Something to Keep in Mind
Caffeine is present in a number of items, not just coffee. So if your dog ate a tea bag or swallowed some diet pills, the danger can be just as great as if he drank your morning cup of coffee. Other products that contain caffeine include energy drinks, soda and coffee-flavored products such as ice cream or candy.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.