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My Dog Ate Coffee Beans: Should I Be Worried? (Vet Answer)

Written by: Dr. Maria Zayas DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

coffee bean

My Dog Ate Coffee Beans: Should I Be Worried? (Vet Answer)


Dr. Maria Zayas  Photo


Dr. Maria Zayas

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

For a lot of dog owners, the morning routine revolves around their dog. Many dog owners will help get this process rolling by brewing a cup of coffee in the morning. Can your canine companion participate in this routine with you? What if they take the initiative and get into a bag of coffee beans on their own?

Due to the caffeine it contains, coffee is toxic to dogs, but what may happen when they eat coffee beans depends on how many they eat, how big they are, and if they have any underlying health conditions. Here’s what you need to know.

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What Happens if a Dog Eats Coffee Beans?

A dog that eats coffee beans is ingesting caffeine, a stimulant we greatly enjoy and often rely upon, but which is toxic to dogs.

As a stimulant, caffeine raises a dog’s heart rate, but too much can also develop into erratic heart rates, known as cardiac arrhythmias, and even severe neurological signs. GI upset is a pretty common side effect of caffeine ingestion, even at low levels, as is a level of restless anxiety.

What range of signs a dog may develop is entirely up to how many beans they eat and how that compares to their size and overall health, especially cardiac or neurological health. A single coffee bean is usually okay even for a small dog, but if a dog gets into and eats a significant amount from a bag of coffee beans, even a Great Dane could be in trouble.

coffee beans
Image By: NoName_13, Pixabay

Signs of Caffeine Ingestion

  • Panting
  • Inability to settle, pacing
  • Drooling
  • Vocalizing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Muscle tremors
dog vomiting
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

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How Do I Know if My Dog Ate Enough Coffee Beans to Make Them Sick?

Since several factors are at play, the best thing to do as soon as you realize your dog ate coffee beans is to contact the Pet Poison Helpline. These veterinarians have resources ready to go 24/7, 365 days a year, to assess the risk to your dog based on what you know about what they ate.

No matter the size or health of the dog, if they’ve ingested an entire bag of coffee beans, you should first contact your nearest veterinary ER and start heading their way. After speaking to them, you can still reach out to the Pet Poison Helpline, as they can send important information to your veterinarian, which can save time in an emergency.

Some veterinary ERs require input from this helpline for all toxicity cases; they’re that good, so it’s in your best interest to get that process started on the way if you can.

veterinarian examining a boxer dog at the clinic
Image Credit: Robert Kneschke, Shutterstock

How Is Caffeine Toxicity Treated in Dogs?

Treatment can vary a bit based on how severe the toxicity is and how quickly the dog makes it to a veterinarian.

If seen within an hour or two of eating the coffee beans, a dog will be made to vomit the beans, which significantly lowers the risk of toxicity. Depending on how many they ate and how quickly this happens, no further treatment may be needed after this step.

Another potential addition to inducing vomiting is giving activated charcoal. This pitch-black liquid can be given by mouth, and it is very good at binding most toxins in a dog’s GI tract that it comes in contact with. This can inactivate the toxin, meaning the body can’t absorb it, and instead, it stays in the GI tract to be passed into the stool.

For dogs already experiencing side effects of caffeine toxicity or those expected to, getting them supportive care through intravenous fluids, nausea medication, a bland diet, and a safe place to relax is crucial. Medication can also correct specific changes, such as abnormal or high heart rates, high blood pressure, muscle tremors, seizures, or severe vomiting or diarrhea.

Most dogs experiencing side effects from caffeine ingestion will need to be hospitalized for at least a day, and some may need to stay for several, especially if they have other serious health conditions.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog sick with vet
Image Credit: Zontica, Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are some types of coffee beans more dangerous than others?

Yes, different coffee beans have different caffeine levels. It’s best to take a picture of or bring the coffee bean packaging with you to provide to the Pet Poison Helpline and vet clinic since some varieties have two or more times the caffeine of others.

Will a few licks of coffee hurt a dog?

Unless the coffee has other toxic substances in it, like xylitol or chocolate, a few licks should pose no threat to a dog from the coffee or coffee beans.

How much caffeine is in one coffee bean?

It seems the average coffee bean contains about 6 milligrams of caffeine, though other varieties can have upwards of four times that much.

How long does caffeine toxicity last in dogs?

Signs of toxicity can start in as little as 20 minutes or so and may last for over a day, though severe signs usually occur within 1–8 hours of ingestion.

a sick vizsla dog lying on a dog bed at home
Image Credit: Edgar Feliz, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

While dogs eating coffee beans is never a good thing, how much of a problem it can be depends a lot on how much they eat and how big they are.

Suppose you realize your dog has eaten any coffee beans. In that case, you’ll want to contact the Pet Poison Helpline and potentially your local veterinary ER for the next steps, as some side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, and neurological signs, may occur. Most dogs that eat coffee beans do recover, but they may need to be hospitalized for supportive care to do so.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

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