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Pet Poison Helpline Sounds the Alarm on Pet Caffeine Consumption

Posted by SusanStokes on May 9, 2024

Our friends at Pet Poison Helpline are sounding the alarm about the harmful effects of caffeine consumption by pets. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to this stimulant than humans.

 "So many products contain caffeine at various strengths, that it's difficult to know when something is dangerous," said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. "The reactions that humans feel from consuming caffeine, such as an increased heart rate, are intensified in pets. In addition to an increased heart rate, if the dose is too high, caffeine can lead to an elevated blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and in extreme cases, death."

Although most people consume caffeine in a drink, or in treats like chocolate or chewing gum, caffeine pills are also still heavily marketed and purchased.

"Regardless of its form, caffeine has the same negative effects on your pet's health," Dr. Schmid added.

Pills in particular are a problem if an inquisitive dog finds a package left on a counter or table within reach and decides to grab it like a chew toy and ingest the contents in the process. This problem has actually been documented by Pet Poison Helpline.

"We are quite often the next call the veterinarian asks the pet owner to make after a pet eats something potentially toxic," Dr. Schmid explained. "Most veterinary hospitals in the U.S. don't have toxicologists on staff to treat patients, so many rely on our expertise to help them diagnose and treat poisoning cases."

Treating a pet that has ingested caffeine can entail many procedures. A recent case involved a terrier who required a sedative to help calm him down. He was treated with an anti-emetic to help avoid vomiting with possible aspiration due to his neurologic status.He was placed on IV fluids, provided diligent nursing care, and his treating veterinarian was advised to give anticonvulsants if seizures developed and methocarbamol for tremors.

The amount of caffeine in less than one tablet was enough to cause a poisoning concern for this small terrier. The fact that he likely ingested several pills made the dog a high risk to develop severe signs. By the time the dog arrived at the veterinary hospital, he was already hyperactive and had an elevated heart rate. After a night of monitoring and care, the dog was able to go home to his grateful owners the following day.

About Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. They are an independent, nationally recognized animal poison control center triple licensed by the Boards of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Pharmacy providing unmatched professional leadership and expertise. Our veterinarians and board-certified toxicologists provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species.

Based in Minneapolis, Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.

SOURCE: Pet Poison Helpline Press Release