Tea is among the drinks we consume on a daily basis, and it might happen that our dog gets interested in a tea bag we left lying around.
If your dog ate a tea bag, call your veterinarian as soon as possible, because caffeine has the same effect on dogs that it has on humans, but in the case of dogs, it might put their life at risk.
What should you do if your dog ate a tea bag?
If your dog swallows a tea bag, don’t underestimate the situation and make a preventive call to your veterinarian as soon as you realize what happened.
Make sure to mention the size of your dog, how much time has passed since the ingestion, any symptoms you may notice, and the kind of tea bag they swallowed.
Your veterinarian might suggest inducing vomiting, but it’s a practice that it is not recommended to do at home if you’re not an expert, in fact, it would always be better to let a professional do it.
If the situation looks serious, you might need to bring your pet in for a medical examination and your veterinarian might decide to go for an endoscopy or for surgery. If your veterinarian isn’t available, you can call the Pet Poison Hotline.
Is tea bad for dogs?
Tea shouldn’t be in your dog’s diet because it has many side-effects you have no control on.
Although a dog consuming tea as a one-time occurrence might not experience any discomfort, tea contains caffeine, which on dogs has the same effect it has on humans.
It is also important to notice that caffeine is a similar chemical to theobromine, which is the component that makes chocolate toxic to dogs. It goes without saying that it would not be wise to feed these chemicals to your dog.
Tea bags are particularly dangerous because of their concentration of caffeine, which makes dogs eating tea bags at a higher risk of poisoning. Not to mention, the bag itself could cause a blockage in the gastrointestinal apparatus.
Some owners think green tea is less dangerous for dogs because they know about the benefits humans get from drinking it.
Green tea is sometimes present in some dog foods too, because of its antioxidants and because it helps reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.
However, don’t be fooled: green tea in its natural state contains caffeine just like any other tea and if your dog ate a green tea bag you should take the same precautions that you would take for any other kind of beverage that contains said chemical.
Signs of caffeine poisoning in dogs.
Symptoms of tea poisoning are really easy to notice, but you should still pay extra attention to your dog if they ingested a tea bag.
Most signs show up within 1-2 hours from ingestion, but remember that you should not wait for symptoms to manifest before calling your veterinarian. That’s the first thing you should do as soon as your dog ingested the tea bag.
Signs of mild caffeine intoxication.
Warning signs of caffeine poisoning in dogs include the following:
- Rapid heartbeat
If you happen to have a very active and playful dog, you might misinterpret these signs. Some symptoms like hypertension and accelerated heartbeat might not be openly recognizable unless upon close inspection of the dog.
If you suspect that your dog might have eaten a tea bag, please check their heartbeat when they are resting, and don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian if you notice anything abnormal about their behavior.
Signs of critical caffeine intoxication.
Critical signs of caffeine poisoning in dogs include the following:
If you notice one or more of these signs, your dog must be taken to the emergency room immediately because the prognosis for dogs that show this range of symptoms is not good.
Other risks of swallowing a tea bag.
While black tea is certainly bad for your dog, unfortunately, there are other types of tea that can be as dangerous for your pet’s health. In particular, chamomile tea and peppermint tea contain various ingredients that are harmful to your pet and should never be ingested.
Chamomile poisoning in dogs.
If your dog ate a chamomile tea bag, they will need to be examined because a few components of chamomile can cause dangerous toxic reactions in dogs. If the intoxication gets severe, your dog might even be risking his life.
Chamomile has great benefits for both humans and dogs. This herb has been used for hundreds of years for medical purposes and is a natural sedative and dewormer for dogs as well.
While it’s not harmful if administered rarely and in the moment of need, regular use is dangerous for your pet because chamomile contains a combination of anthemic acid, bisabolol, chamazulene, and tannic acid, which are very toxic for dogs.
When your dog ingests chamomile for a long time or a great concentration of it (like the chamomile tea bag) it can lead to stomach blockage and even internal bleeding.
Common signs of chamomile poisoning include:
- Loss of appetite
If you notice any of these symptoms, bring your dog in for a medical examination as soon as possible.
Peppermint poisoning in dogs.
Peppermint is not toxic to dogs, however, there are cases where the ingestion of peppermint tea can be dangerous or even fatal for your pet.
Some pet parents believe peppermint has the same benefits for dogs that it has for humans, such as decreasing bloating and helping in expelling gas, on top of being beneficial for joint inflammation.
However, there is no scientific proof that peppermints can be beneficial to dogs the same way it is for humans and if your dog suffers from the symptoms described above, it would be better to consult a professional, rather than counting on home-made remedies.
Risks of xylitol contained in peppermint.
If your dog ate a peppermint tea bag, they will absolutely need to be examined, because sometimes peppermint contains Xylitol, which is incredibly harmful to dogs and can be fatal if left untreated.
Xylitol intoxication usually shows in the form of hypoglycemia, which is a condition where the sugar level in your dog’s blood is too low and can lead to increasing weakness, seizures, unconsciousness, and eventually death.
If you suspect that your dog has eaten peppermint or a peppermint tea bag, you must bring them to your veterinarian immediately and bring with you the tea box, so the vet can check for harmful ingredients.
Many pet owners also believe mint to be harmless to dogs and while that could be true for some products, it certainly isn’t for the mint plant, which should be kept away from your dog’s reach.
Can dogs have tea?
Dogs should not have tea or anything that isn’t part of a healthy diet designed specifically for their needs.
While seldom consumption of tea may be harmless for your dog, ingesting a tea bag, or having regular access to any type of tea can result in dangerous consequences for your dog’s health.
Any sudden change in your dog’s diet can lead to health complications such as indigestion, bloating, blockage, and in the most serious cases inflammations and infections. Ingestion of non-edible items can lead to even further problems, sometimes fatal.
While the wish to share your own food with your dog is understandable, remember that dogs don’t crave a wide variety of tasty food the same way we do, so make sure to keep their diet simple and healthy.