If you are like most households across the globe, you take tea in the morning, and perhaps in the evening too. This drink has been a favorite in many houses for many centuries now. And this popularity does not seem like it will go down any time soon.
Plus, there are even more ways to enjoy this beverage owing to its many variations and the additives in the market. You can have it hot or iced, milked or white, sugared or not, and the list continues.
And then there are the flavors in play from orange to lemon to blueberry. People enjoy this drink quite a lot, and not only for the taste, but also for its benefits.
It is rich in antioxidants which strengthen the immune system and fight free radicals. Studies show that drinking tea can ward off some conditions, such as certain cancer types and type II diabetes. Tea seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.
And then there is your dog—this animal you have taken to loving so much that you cannot imagine a life without it. You would probably want to share your tea with it. And truth be told, you have likely allowed it to lick some tea now and then.
But you cannot help but wonder if you are doing the right thing by indulging this behavior. While it is healthy for humans, can this tea also offer the same benefits to your dog?
The thing is that some teas are suitable for dogs but in small quantities. Note that as long as caffeine is present in the tea, the drink is not suitable for your dog. If anything, it can cause caffeine poisoning as we will later cover.
This poisoning can also take place if your dog consumes coffee, sodas, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, and protein bars, among others. Keeping your dog away from known caffeine sources goes a long way in protecting it.
Take black tea as an example. One cup can contain as much as 90 mg of caffeine, and this is assuming that the brewing was moderate. The more you allow the tea to steep, the more caffeinated it becomes.
This amount is quite a lot, even for a human being. And the case is different when it comes to dogs as their systems cannot quite handle such high caffeine amounts.
Note that even when black tea variations are caffeine-free, there is a high chance that the levels are still too high for your dog. This article will cover if your dog should have tea, when you should worry and what you can do when things take a turn for the worse.
Does your dog like tea?
Seeing your dog looking up at you in anticipation as you drink your tea can be uncomfortable. On the one hand, you want to pour some into its bowl so that it can also enjoy this taste.
On the other hand, you know that the caffeine in the tea can probably be its undoing. So you sit there, sipping the tea, and wondering what your best move is.
You can give your dog tea, as it can also benefit from the many antioxidants in this drink. However, there is a catch to this. The tea has to be decaf, and even then, you cannot give your dog this beverage often.
You have to space out the drinks such that you can offer your dog a taste every four days or so. You can even go a week without allowing it to have another taste.
That will enable you to gauge its reaction – not to add the amount, but to determine if you should keep giving it tea.
Many people think that giving their dogs black or green tea will make them healthier. They do have a point – these teas are rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. However, they have a downside you cannot ignore- their high caffeine levels.
This caffeine content is so high that toxicity in dogs can occur. The problem with toxicity is that it can be fatal and can cause health issues that last through the years. Is that a risk you would want to take?
Let’s go back to whether your dog likes tea. You could be agonizing over whether you can share some of your magic portion, only to find that the dog does not want it. Dip your finger into your tea and allow the dog to lick it off.
Note that the safest option for this is decaf as it has no caffeine content. Also, you should consider your dog’s gastrointestinal health. If it has been having some stomach issues, anything with caffeine should be a no.
Take note of the dog’s reaction to the tea. If it wags its tail, paws at you, raises its ears, licks its lips or other such actions, they enjoyed the tea.
That does not mean that you should be buying two packs of loose leaves, one for you and another for the dog. No, it only signifies that you can allow your dog to have some decaf now and then.
Which tea is safe for your dog?
The unfortunate thing is that most teas in the market contain caffeine. This stimulant is unsafe for your dog and can cause toxicity even in small amounts. It impairs internal systems in dogs and can be fatal in some cases.
Thus, the best option lies in finding caffeine-free drinks for your dog. These include chamomile and ginger teas. They also have the added benefits of reducing inflammation and easing digestion.
Even with these, consumption should be moderate. You always have to keep in mind that dogs are different from human beings when it comes to handling foods.
Black tea should be a big NO when it comes to your dog. While some people often offer their pets this variation, it can be harmful. Again, it contains about 90 mg of caffeine in one cup.
Even the caffeine-free options may not be suitable for your dog. However, you can allow your dog to have a taste of this drink now and then. A few licks of a dipper finger will be enough to satisfy them without upsetting their stomach.
Chamomile tea is excellent for dogs that have trouble sleeping. You can give it a few licks of this and see if it calms down. Any time the dog is anxious at night, you can try this technique.
Over time, you will have to get to the root of the problem and figure out why it is anxious.
Ginger tea is ideal for dogs that have some gastrointestinal issues. If your dog does not like the taste of this tea, you can add it to their food.
They will drink it without knowing, and you should note some changes in their upset stomachs. Note that if the upsets continue, you should seek medical advice on the same.
While teas may be good for your dog now and then, some safety precautions must prevail. For one, consumption should not be regular, and the amount should be low.
Decaf works great but can have traces of caffeine which can upset your dog. Thus, even in this case, you need to be moderate. Also, try and avoid black tea as much as possible.
Additives in tea to watch out for
You will come across some people who state that adding additives such as milk in tea makes the drink suitable for dogs. How true is this?
Many people use milk in their tea. Some do it for the taste, others want to reduce the acidity levels, and the list of reasons continues. You might thus reason that adding milk would make the tea better for the dog.
However, that is not the case. Did you know that most dogs are lactose intolerant? That means that you would expose your dog to stomach issues, compounded with the risk of caffeine toxicity. That does not seem like a good move.
Adding something sweet should have your dog feeling all kinds of good, isn’t that so? Thus, this temptation can come about. The good thing is that honey will not have any adverse effects on your dog as long as the consumption is moderate.
However, its use in tea will not serve any purpose as it cannot alter the caffeine content. Also, the sugar can bring about other issues such as tooth decay in the dog.
Here is something else you should note. While honey may be good in small doses, some dogs react to it harshly. That is more so the case for dogs whose immune systems are weak. Either way, using honey in tea is not a good idea.
Do you like adding sugar to your tea? Many people who take their tea black like having this additive in play to bring out flavor and play down the bitterness. Well, this is not good for you or the dog.
Sugar is known to cause problems such as diabetes, tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain. Not all sugar is bad, though. Your dog can rely on the natural sugars in food for energy. Anything else might have some adverse effects on its health.
Caffeine Poisoning in dogs
The component you should always avoid giving to your dog is caffeine. This stimulant is present in not only tea but a range of other foods and meds.
It works by stimulating the central nervous system and results in added energy and focus. Caffeine poisoning occurs when dogs ingest high amounts of caffeine and can have drastic effects.
You can tell that your dog has probably had too much caffeine by looking at its behavior. Given that caffeine blocks calming hormones, your dog will likely be all over the place, pacing and panting.
This hyperactivity is an indication that all is not well. The stimulant can also cause tremors in some dogs, and you may notice that the dog is shaking.
It can also seem more nervous than usual or agitated such that it reacts to almost everything. Rapid heartbeats and seizures can also occur.
The extent of the symptoms depends on how much caffeine the dog has consumed. When working with small amounts, the symptoms may be mild or not present.
But when the dog has had a large quantity of caffeine such as a few cups of tea, the effects can be severe. They range from pulmonary to cardiovascular to metabolic reactions.
The moment you suspect that your dog has had caffeine, from tea or any other source, you should watch its behavior. If any effects come about, you should take it to the vet immediately.
If you are sure that the dog has had caffeine and can tell that the amount is high, you should not wait for the symptoms. Instead, take the dog to the vet and provide information as to what it ate and when, as well as the amounts.
The vet can test for exposure to caffeine, where you are working with suspicion before making a diagnosis.
Luckily, most caffeine toxicity cases are treatable, and the dog should be fine in no time. Note that this depends on how fast you react to the consumption or onset of symptoms.
The vet can monitor the dog’s vital signs as they treat it by inducing vomiting, cleaning the stomach and using meds.
Giving your dog tea may seem like a reasonably harmless thing. However, if there is caffeine in the drink, you could be harming your dog, and in some cases, killing it.
A few licks of your tea now and then should be fine, if the drink is decaf. You can also feed it herbal teas such as chamomile and ginger.