Can dogs drink tea?
Our dogs are part of our families, and we like to share many of life’s pleasures with them, but should that include a brew?
Many of us enjoy a good cup of tea: for the flavour, the ritual, the comfort, or the pick-me-up that its caffeine brings. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system delivering a welcome boost when we’ve just woken up, or we’re feeling a bit weary. In our busy lives this is a handy bonus to a pleasant beverage.
However, dogs don’t tend to lead such hectic lives as we do, they take full advantage of any opportunity to nap, and it’s rare to see an animal awaken unrefreshed. So caffeine is unnecessary to them. Not only that, but they’re not capable of processing caffeine like we can and this can be toxic to them, potentially resulting in vomiting, restlessness, elevated heart rate and, in worst cases, even leading to coma and death.
Might decaffeinated tea be an option? Hmmm, the trouble is, both caffeinated and decaffeinated tea also contain tannins, chemicals which are also toxic to dogs, and can lead to liver and kidney failure.
Well, what about herbal tea? These are mostly caffeine-free, but some of the ingredients for infusions can also contain tannins, and there is such a variety of ingredients for herbal teas you would still need to take care that none of them is on the toxic list for dogs either.
Many plants have developed chemical defence mechanisms, and these may affect some animal species more severely or adversely than others. Different species, or even breeds, will also have different tolerance levels for caffeine (or other plant chemicals) meaning what dose of caffeine is fine for one, may be too high for another, and this is before considering variance in size, age and liver or kidney function.
On balance, it seems our pets just don’t need that cup of tea like we do, and the safest, simplest, and cheapest way to keep our furry friends hydrated is just fresh, clean water.