It’s a cold winter morning and you’ve just returned from the outside. The warmth of your home pleasantly welcomes you alongside your dog, who is wagging their tail in joy upon your return. You head in and go to the kitchen where you brew yourself a fresh cup of tea to shake off the cold – nothing beats a warm cup in the winter after all. But that makes you wonder if your pooch could enjoy some freshly brewed tea just like you. So, is it safe for your dog to drink tea?
Can Dogs Drink Tea?
As long as you give them just a sip now and then, absolutely! Your dog can enjoy tea just as much as you and they may even benefit from it. However, most experts advise against it because most teas that humans drink contain negligible amounts of caffeine. While caffeine may be an indispensable part of your morning routine that keeps you up and going for the rest of the day, it can be extremely harmful to your pet.
Keep reading to learn about the dangers of caffeine poisoning in canines, as well as how much and what types of tea are safe for your pooch.
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. It stimulates the brain and central nervous system, which helps you to stay awake and alert. Caffeine functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and creates the feeling of tiredness. It may also increase adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Each day, about 90%of Of Americans consume some form of caffeine. Billions of people all across the globe rely on it to wake them up and get them through the day. This has reached the point where caffeine has become one of the most commonly used ingredients worldwide and also the world’s most commonly used psychoactive drug.
Everyday products like espresso, energy drinks, soft drinks, cocoa beverages, and chocolate milk all contain varying caffeine content. This has stirred some controversy about how caffeine has negative effects on sleep and anxiety. On the other side of the spectrum, it is somewhat healthy and is said to improve mood and brain function.
What Caffeine Does to Dogs
While caffeine may keep you up and running, it is toxic to dogs and other pets. They are more sensitive to caffeine than humans, and they don’t have the necessary enzymes to metabolize caffeine either. So it rapidly increases their heart rate and makes them hyperactive. It also increases blood pressure and can cause cardiac arrhythmia, a potentially fatal condition. The gastrointestinal tract is also affected, causing your pooch to vomit and have diarrhea.
The degree of toxicity and its adverse effects are determined by the amount of caffeine ingested. However, the size of your pooch also plays a role here. A young and healthy pup of fairly large size will likely have a better outcome after caffeine consumption than a small, old dog. Regardless of age or size, however, caffeine can damage major organs and aggravate underlying problems.
Caffeine In Tea
Tea is known to contain varying quantities of caffeine. A study has found that tea leaves contain about 3.5% caffeine. Black tea typically has the highest caffeine content among all other types. This is because black tea is oxidized, allowing more caffeine to be extracted. Herbal tea isn’t caffeine-free either. Guayusa and Yerba Mate, two popularly used herbs in herbal tea, both contain around 85 mg of caffeine per 8oz serving. (Source: The WhistlingKettle)
Here are some fun facts about caffeine content in tea:
- Caffeine occurs naturally in Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, so all tea contains some caffeine.
- L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation, is found in tea and it works together with caffeine to induce alertness.
- Caffeine from tea is thought to absorb more slowly than caffeine from coffee.
Is Tea Safe for dogs?
With the imminent threat of caffeine poisoning, is it really safe for dogs to drink tea? In small amounts, yes.
Tea does not contain enough caffeine to hurt your pooch unless drunk in large quantities. A small dog would have to drink about five cups a day for the caffeine content to reach toxic levels. So generally speaking, allowing your dog to drink tea from your cup every now and then won’t hurt. You can let your furry friend have a cup every week or so and not have to worry about it at all.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
For most healthy adult humans, 400 mg of caffeine a day seems to be safe. That’s equivalent to four cups of coffee, ten cans of cola, or 9 cups of black tea (For reference, a cup is about 237 g). However, as previously mentioned, dogs are more sensitive to caffeine. According to Provet, the lethal dose is 150mg/kg body weight (Regular instant coffee contains over 60 mg per teaspoon). Seizures and death are possible if your pet consumes this much caffeine but depending on your pooch’s size, weight, and age, a lower dose could also be enough.
Symptoms of Caffeine Poisoning
In the unfortunate event that your dog has consumed large amounts of caffeine, look out for the following symptoms:
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased heartbeat rate
If you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet immediately. If the consumed dose was large, rush to the nearest animal hospital. The vet will assess the situation and help accordingly.
Benefits Of Drinking Tea
Tea is loaded with antioxidants and also has relaxing properties. Green tea, in particular, is especially healthy for both you and your dog. Research has found that drinking green tea on a regular basis significantly reduced the risk of certain types of cancer. While only a few studies have been conducted on the effects of green tea on animals, most people believe that dogs can share the same benefits. It is said to aid with digestive health, promote fresher breath, and help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Some owners also say that green tea gives their dog a fresher breath and reduces odor from their stool, although this has yet to be proven.
What Tea Should You Give Your Dog
Most tea that humans drink has moderate amounts of caffeine so it’s not as safe for your puppy. If you still want to let your dog have a sip, the best choice is decaffeinated tea. Decaffeinated tea, or decaf for short, is tea leaves that go through a process to remove most of the caffeine. However, it is not 100% caffeine-free either. But the lower caffeine content still makes it a better choice of tea for your dog.
A small cup of decaffeinated green or black tea is both safe and healthy for your dog. They can provide most of the health benefits of normal tea, just at a much less potent concentration. Decaf herbal teas, like chamomile and peppermint, are even said to be great for digestion.
Get some decaffeinated green tea with a fresh, natural taste for both you and your dog here.
Can Dogs Drink Tea with Milk?
Milk can be a risky food for dogs. Adult pooches don’t produce lactase in large quantities, which is the enzyme needed to break down lactose (sugar that is found in milk). As such, they tend to become lactose intolerant. So adding milk to your dog’s tea can prove to be harmful in some cases. However, just like any other food, adding a teaspoon or two of milk into your dog’s tea once in a while won’t hurt.
Read our full article on Can Dogs Drink Milk?
Can Tea Replace Water?
No. There is no substitute for drinking water. Once weaned from mother’s milk, the only beverage a dog needs to be strong and healthy is a clean and steady supply of fresh water.
Unlike humans who derive health, energy, and joy from a variety of fluids, dogs get all the nutrients they need from food. They don’t require the same kinds of carnal pleasures that we get from drinking coffee, soda, or juice. In this sense, there’s no need to give your dog any other fluid than water. Replacing water for another beverage will be hazardous. If your dog drinks only tea but no water, caffeine poisoning, and dehydration are only imminent.
So Can Dogs Drink Tea? Yes, but only in small amounts. Giving your dog a small cup every once in a while raises no cause for concern. Giving them decaffeinated tea is even better. However, remember that this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help and you must always ask your vet for advice before adding anything new to your dog’s diet plan.
Thank you for reading the article.
To explore more, check out our other tea-related dog articles that you might be interested in.
Have you ever shared a sip of tea with your dog? What was their reaction? Did they like it? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!