16 May 2014

My dog just ate coffee grounds, what should I do?

I guess you are on this page because your dog may have swallowed coffee grounds { grinds } and you have heard they may be toxic or poisonous to dogs and you are wondering how serious this is, and what the best treatment may be. This is something which us vets do deal with from time to time as dogs often find discarded coffee grinds in the trash and they seem to be attracted to them. To be blunt you are right to be here as caffeine can sometimes present a hazard to to dogs, so let me tell you all you need to know.

Coffee toxicity dog
Dogs sometimes eat coffee grounds they find in the trash.

1. Firstly, what symptoms would you expect to see? : The principal symptoms of caffeine toxicity in the dog could include vomiting, diarrhoea, an increased heart rate, an irregular heart rate, excitability and tremors. Beyond that in severe cases this could progress to seizures, and deaths are possible in cases of massive overdose but thankfully this is rare. Symptoms normally start appear within the first one to two hours after ingestion.

2. How much coffee grounds would be toxic to a dog? :  Well the the toxic dose for caffeine in dogs is around 150mg of caffeine per Kg of your dog's body weight so if you read the ingredients on the pack and made a rough estimation you would get some idea of the level of risk. In practice though this is difficult because different brands of coffee have different caffeine levels, and of course used coffee grounds have much less caffeine content, and it is often hard to estimate just how much of the stuff your dog ate.

3. How is coffee toxicity in the dog treated? : As with a great many toxins which may have been swallowed by dogs if you can induce vomiting within the first hour then things will usually be just fine. This is the single most effective thing you can do. { See our Further references section below for a link on how to do this best }

Outside of that time scale but within the first five or six hours activated charcoal given orally may be of benefit as it will help mop up any toxins still in the stomach and intestinal tract.

However beyond the above measures there is unfortunately no specific antidote and treatment will then consist of symptomatic measures and a high level of support while the toxin slowly drain out of your dog's system as it will typically start to do after 24 hours or so.

These symptomatic measures could include drugs to stabilise the heart rate, drugs to control tremors, anti-sickness meds, and sometimes IV fluids. These of course are almost certainly prescription drugs but if things have got to this stage then you will have got your vet involved by that time in any case.

4. The bottom line? : You may be able to handle a minor case of coffee toxicity on a home care basis just by support and sitting things out but if more severe symptoms set in you should have your dog checked by a vet without delay. Better safe than sorry ...

Further References.

1. How to induce vomiting in dogs best in cases of toxicity : LINK