Caffeine is toxic to all dogs. Just exactly how much caffeine depends on various factors, like the size of your dog — the dangers of caffeine are greater in puppies for that reason. The smaller the dog, the less caffeine needed to reach poisoning. Caffeine includes methylxanthines, which are compounds that can lead to deleterious results in a dog’s central nervous system, heart, kidneys and lungs. Anything that contains caffeine is dangerous to dogs, and that includes chocolate (see our article on the caffeine content of chocolate). It is crucial to keep even the smallest amounts of caffeine out of reach for your dog. According to Provet, caffeine is lethal at a dose of 150 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Strong coffees like Turkish coffee, percolated coffees, and energy drinks would take much less to become lethal for your dog.
According to Pet Poison Helpline, signs of caffeine poisoning include:
Within 1-2 hours of exposure: mild to severe hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), hypertension (elevated blood pressure), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) seizures, and collapse.
There is no antidote for caffeine poisoning. The only treatment is to induce vomiting and decontaminate with multiple doses of activated charcoal. The Pet Poison Helpline adds “Aggressive IV fluids to help with excretion, sedatives to calm the pet, specific heart medications to reduce the heart rate and blood pressure, anti-convulsants for seizures, antacids (such as Pepcid) for stomach discomfort and diarrhea. Caffeine may be reabsorbed across the bladder wall so a urinary catheter or frequent walks are needed to keep the bladder empty.”
In any event, should your dog experience the systems of caffeine poisoning, take your pet to a vet immediately. There are a number of 24-hour emergency pet hotlines as well.
And as always, prevention is key — Every dog owner should be educated in what foods contain caffeine and should keep even the smallest amounts of caffeine-containing food away from their dogs.
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