My Dog ate Coffee Grounds. What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways

  • Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, which is toxic to dogs
  • Signs of caffeine toxicity can range from a tummy upset to collapse and seizures
  • If your dog eats coffee grounds, then you should contact your veterinarian or an emergency clinic as soon as possible to have your dog treated. 

While caffeine is a great pick-me-up in the morning for us humans, it is not tolerated by our canine companions. 

Canine metabolisms are different from ours, and many human foods are toxic, including coffee grounds. 

There are other products that contain caffeine as well as coffee grounds, including tea, cola and sodas, chocolate, and even some over-the-counter pain medications and diet pills.

Caffeine is a stimulant that helps us humans stay awake, and it behaves in a similar way in our fur babies, though they only need to lap up a small amount to be affected.

Signs of restlessness, increased heart rate, and hyperactivity are typical of caffeine toxicity, to name a few. In mild situations, caffeine can make your dog vomit, which can actually help remove the toxin from their body, while more severe cases may show loss of muscle control, tremors, and even seizures that can lead to your dog’s death.

How much are Coffee Grounds toxic to dogs?

Our canine companions are much more sensitive to caffeine than humans, and, so a small amount of coffee grounds may be enough to cause clinical signs. 

There is no specific dose as there are varying degrees of toxicity depending on how much your dog ate, their size, and their overall health status. 

Large breed, young, and typically healthy dogs will likely cope better than a smaller, older dog with concurrent kidney disease. 

Despite this, caffeine can damage multiple major organs, including the liver, heart, lungs, central nervous system, and your dog’s kidneys.

One example of toxicity would be a small dog of approximately 7kg/14lbs would need to eat about 2-3 teaspoons of coffee grounds to develop mild signs of caffeine toxicity but would need to ingest approximately 3 tablespoons of grounds to potentially develop more severe signs of toxicity. 

What would happen if my dog ate Coffee Grounds?

The outcome of your dog eating some coffee grounds depends on a number of factors, including:

  1. How much coffee grounds your dog ate
  2. Your dog’s weight/size
  3. Your dog’s health status

The caffeine can act as an emetic and make your dog vomit, which will bring up some of the coffee grounds, reducing the dose they absorb into their bloodstream and thus potentially reducing the toxic effects of the toxin. 

Mild exposure will likely cause signs of hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, and cardiac effects within 1-2 hours, while larger amounts of coffee grounds causing more severe exposure could lead to hyperthermia, seizures, and collapse in some dogs. 

When Should I Take My Dog To the Vet?

If you know or even suspect that your dog has eaten coffee grounds then you should contact the Pet Poison Helpline on (855) 764-7661 as a matter of urgency to determine if your dog has eaten a toxic amount of caffeine. 

Some information you should have to hand is your dog’s weight, and how much they’ve eaten.  It’s also important to let them know if your dog has any health problems as this could increase their risk of toxicity. 

You should also contact your veterinarian or an emergency clinic as soon as possible for tailored advice about your dog’s specific situation. The veterinarian will likely advise bringing your dog into the clinic for treatment if there’s any risk of your dog having ingested a toxic amount of coffee grounds.

What if my dog ate plenty of Coffee Grounds but seems fine?

If your dog eats coffee grounds then they will appear normal for a period of time no matter how much they’ve ingested. Most dog’s will typically show clinical signs of toxicity or exposure to caffeine from coffee grounds or other sources within 2 hours of ingestion.

In order to give your dog the best opportunity for a full recovery, you should contact your veterinarian immediately and have your dog treated before they start to show any clinical signs.

Signs that my dog ate Coffee Grounds

Typical clinical signs that your dog has ingested coffee grounds or any source of caffeine include:

  • Hyperactivity of varying degrees
  • Vocalization
  • Pacing
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia (elevated heart rate)
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

How do veterinarians treat dogs that have eaten Coffee Grounds?

Treatment for coffee grounds ingestion depends on when your dog ate them and whether or not they’re showing any clinical signs. 

If your dog isn’t showing any signs of caffeine toxicity, then your veterinarian will likely induce vomiting to reduce the amount of toxin from their stomach before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Activated charcoal can then be administered to further reduce the absorption of the toxin from the intestinal tract. 

Pooches that are showing clinical signs of toxicity, such as hyperactivity or muscle tremors, have likely passed the point of inducing emesis and are at higher risk of aspirating vomitus and developing potentially life-threatening aspiration pneumonia.

At this point, supportive care with intravenous fluids to minimize the risk of dehydration is indicated. The administration of fluid therapy will also help increase the excretion of caffeine through the urine and support kidney function. 

Your veterinarian will also start your dog on medications to treat muscle tremors and seizures and give cardiac medications to lower blood pressure and stabilize the heart rhythm.

Caffeine is reabsorbed into the bloodstream across the bladder wall, so your veterinarian will likely either place a urinary catheter for continuous drainage of urine or have your dog frequently exercised for pee breaks. 

How Long Will It Take My Dog to Recover?

The duration of illness and the time it takes for your dog to recover after eating coffee grounds will depend on how much they ate in relation to their body size and the severity of their clinical signs.

If treated early with vomiting and activated charcoal and your dog doesn’t show any clinical signs, then they will likely make a full recovery within a short period of time. 

dog’s that are showing more severe clinical signs that require hospitalization may require hospitalization for longer periods of time – at least several days. 

Final Woof

Coffee grounds are poisonous to our precious pooches due to their caffeine content. 

Caffeine is a strong stimulant and adversely affects the cardiovascular, renal (kidneys), gastrointestinal, liver, and central nervous systems; these effects can even be fatal in large enough doses. 

Immediate veterinary intervention is the best course of action when you discover that your dog has ingested coffee grounds, or any other product containing caffeine such as candy bars, energy drinks, tea, or diet/caffeine pills. 

As with all things toxic, prevention is better than cure, and you should endeavor to keep these products away from nosy pooches on the hunt for tasty treats. 

Photo of author
Since graduating from Dublin, Ireland in 2013 with an honors Veterinary Medicine degree, Edele has enjoyed working with as many species of animal as possible. Edele is currently working in clinical practice while studying towards Advanced Practitioner status with the RCVS in the UK. Passionate about education and writing, Edele’s goal is to maximize the pet-owner bond and welfare through education accessible to everyone. Never found without her middle-aged Weimaraner, Purdy (who still thinks she’s 18 months old), Edele spends her limited time outdoors with her horses, hiking and traveling home to Ireland to spend time with family.

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