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Can dogs drink tea?

Golden Retriever in front of cup of tea

Can you give tea to your dog? Let's find out!

© Bela Viana - Shutterstock

There's nothing more comforting than a nice cup of tea; but be careful if you give some to your dog! In fact, dogs can drink some types of tea and herbal teas, but be very careful with those that contain caffeine, which is toxic to dogs in large quantities.

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

With more than 100 million cups consumed every day, tea is probably the most consumed beverage in the UK. Drinking a cup of tea in British culture, and other culture, has for centuries played a significant role in socialising. Given its popularity, this beverage may lead pet owners to share their love for a cup of tea with their furry best-friends.

While starting the day with a cup of tea is very relaxing and beneficial for us, it is not the same for dogs. Indeed, it is not recommended to give tea to your pet because of the presence of caffeine. Even though tea contains less caffeine than coffee, you should not let your dog drink it, especially when the quantity is considerable.

Find out which tea dogs can drink in moderation, which ones are toxic and what you should do in case your dog drank tea out of your mug.

Is it safe for dogs to drink tea?

Is tea safe for dogs? No, not really… 

This beverage is certainly popular with humans, but is clearly not recommended for dogs. It can be dangerous because most teas have caffeine inside and a large amount of it can be bad for your pooch. Depending on the dose ingested, it can even be fatal, especially for small dogs. Caution should be exercised when using either the uninfused tea bag or the ready-to-drink cup.

Don’t worry if your dog had a really small amount of tea, he should be fine. The most serious doses are above 140 mg/kg. Major problems occur if your dog has drunk tea or devoured your tea bag. Several symptoms should alert you within two hours of ingestion:

Not all teas are the same, as some have a higher concentration and others may be flavoured. As it is difficult to know the composition, it is recommended not to give any tea to a dog. Herbal teas are sometimes considered if they are chamomile based as they have relaxing properties. For stressed and anxious animals, it can be beneficial, but to eliminate all risks, essential oils are to be preferred.

What should you do if your dog drank tea

As with all harmful substances, tea must be expelled as soon as possible. You should not try anything, as the wrong action can cause even more damage. 

First of all, you should check which tea your dog drank as some teas aren’t toxic to dogs. If your dog drank black tea or green tea for example it could be dangerous because of the caffeine present inside. Then, you should try to see how much tea your dog drank. If it was a really small sip, then your pooch should be fine, if it was more like half a mug, this could become dangerous. In that case, the best solution is to contact your vet or a poison control centre as soon as possible. They’ll be able to advise you on what to do. The veterinarian will try to flush out the caffeine and will keep the heart rate down as much as possible.

If you are worried your dog has drank tea and you are not sure how much he has swallowed, keep a close eye on your dog. If you notice any change after ingestion, you should consult a professional as soon as possible.

Can dogs drink black tea? 

Dogs should always avoid drinking any teas which have caffeine. Caffeine unnecessarily raises the heart rate and can be toxic if dogs ingest too much (five cups of tea for a small dog, for example). While it takes a fair amount of tea to harm your dog, there aren't many benefits for your dog, it’s not worth sharing a cup of black tea with your dog.

Can dogs drink tea with milk?

Most of the time people drink black tea with milk. But be careful with milk and dogs. Yes, indeed, milk contains a lot of fat and natural sugar. If you give too much milk to your dog it can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, obesity and pancreatitis. Lactose intolerant dogs should not drink tea with milk as this could also cause gas and abdominal pain.

An extremely small amount of milk in your tea might not harm your dog, but if you want to play it safe, only give your furry friend pure tea.

Can dogs drink green tea?

Green tea contains caffeine, certainly less than black tea, but it is still higher than other types of tea such as white tea. Plus, green tea is a gentler source of stimulant, something dogs should avoid.

You might have noticed that some dog foods have green tea in their ingredients, this is because the green tea leaf has many health benefits. It contains antioxidants, it helps with digestive health issues, promotes fresher breath, helps to reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure. But sadly, natural green tea contains caffeine. Keep in mind though that if the dog’s food has green tea inside, it’s more likely to contain a very conservative amount.

Although a small amount of green tea won’t harm your dog, it’s best to avoid giving this beverage to your dog.

Can dogs drink chamomile tea

Chamomile is a popular medicinal plant. But how can chamomile tea also help your dog? Due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effect, it is one of the most popular medicinal plants.

The essential oil contained in the chamomile flower is responsible for the healing effect. Its ingredients have a particularly positive effect on gastrointestinal tract disorders as well as on internal and external inflammations of the skin and mucous membranes.

Chamomile tea is particularly effective internally for all kinds of gastrointestinal disorders. It calms the digestive system and relaxes the contracted muscles. Abdominal pain or diarrhoea due to anxiety or poor nutrition can therefore be treated with chamomile tea. Itchy, dull or damaged fur or skin can also be treated with chamomile tea. For this purpose, cooled, boiled chamomile tea can be massaged into the dog's fur.

There are different ways of administering chamomile tea, depending on the area of application. For internal application, you should first test whether your four-legged friend likes the taste of chamomile or not. External application is much easier, because here the tea can simply be dabbed onto the affected area.

If your dog is well accustomed to the taste of chamomile, you can boil a bag or loose dried chamomile and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Since the brewing time determines the strength of the tea, you can also reduce it to get used to it. You can let the tea cool and offer it to your dog in a bowl of water.

Can dogs drink peppermint tea

It is safe for dogs to take peppermint tea. It can improve their breathing capacity and freshen their breath. Peppermint (mentha balsamea) can soothe your dog's nausea and upset stomach, but in large quantities it can also cause liver or kidney problems. So if you decide to give peppermint tea to your dog, make sure it’s in moderation.

What tea is toxic to dogs? And what tea is safe for dogs?

Here is a little recap’ of teas which are safe for dogs and the ones which are toxic.

Teas which are toxic to dogs

Teas which contain caffeine are dangerous for dogs. This includes: black tea, green tea, white tea and Oolong tea. Basically plants made from the camellia sinensis plant contain a large amount of caffeine.

Teas which are safe for dogs

Popular herbal teas that your dog might also enjoy include chamomile, echinacea, ginger, peppermint and rooibos tea. In fact, it is not only safe for dogs to drink these teas, but also beneficial.

What can dogs drink besides water?

Water is the best drink for your dog. Dogs need constant access to clean, fresh, and preferably cold water. For your dog, drinking water is simply the best way to stay hydrated and healthy - no other drink comes close in terms of benefits. This is especially true in the summer, when it's hotter: water helps your dog cool down. If you're taking long car journeys or spending the day out in the sun, carry enough drinking water for your dog and a travel bowl so he can drink when he needs it.

There are more and more dog drink options on the market, such as beers, wine and even prosecco for dogs (all without alcohol, of course). There are even products such as health tonics and caffeine-free teas for dogs. All these drinks are sold as treats. If you decide to serve them to your dog, they should be occasional, not a regular part of your dog's diet. Let's face it, your dog would probably prefer a good, nutritious biscuit (or piece of fruit) served with water, rather than a fancy drink.

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