My Dog Ate a Tea Bag What Should I Do?

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 03/27/24 •  4 min read
Dog Severe Toxicity Level
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Many pet parents have tea, made with tea bags, every day. Who doesn’t enjoy a great cup of tea? But what happens if your dog happens to eat a tea bag?

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It can happen that a dog may eat a tea bag. This may be because a tea bag happened to drop on the floor and the dog got to it before his pet parent. In that case, many dogs swallow their treasure, rather than giving it over to their pet parent.

Or maybe you were enjoying a refreshing cup of tea, and the phone rang. You had to jump up for the phone, leaving your tea unattended. Sometimes a dog may be curious about what his pet parent is eating or drinking. Whatever their pet parent has must be pretty good, so the dog may try it, too. He may then swallow or eat the tea bag. When you come back from your phone call, the tea bag is no where to be found, and your dog may have a sheepish look. Then it’s clear he’s swallowed the tea bag down.

These are just a couple of scenarios where a dog could have access to tea or tea bags. But is there anything to worry about?

It is strongly recommended to contact a Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian.

Caffeine & Dogs Don’t Mix

If you were enjoying a cup of regular tea, then it probably contained caffeine. Caffeine is poisonous to dogs. In this case, you’ll need to call the vet as soon as possible. Let the vet know the size of the tea bag and then tell them about any symptoms your fur baby may be having. Also be sure to let the vet know what type of tea was in the tea bag.

Why is Caffeine Poisonous to Dogs?

The problem with caffeine is that it is a stimulant to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Dogs that have eaten a tea bag may have an increased heart rate and become hyperactive. Think of how you feel after drinking several cups of coffee, and you’ll understand how your fur baby feels!

A dog may also become restless and jittery, unable to stay or lie still. Some dogs may also pace or vocalize more than usual.

Caffeine increases blood pressure and can cause heart arrhythmias. These can be dangerous or life-threatening in some cases. Caffeine may also cause vomiting and diarrhea, along with increased urination. Symptoms can begin within 30 minutes or sooner after eating a tea bag.

The caffeine in tea can cause your dog to develop the following symptoms:

Other Health Issues from Swallowing a Tea Bag

There are many other types of tea, some of which can be dangerous for your canine companion. These include chamomile and peppermint teas. These are also toxic to dogs.

No matter what type of tea was in the tea bag, one other problem to be concerned about is that the tea bag could cause an intestinal blockage in a dog.

If you suspect your fur baby has swallowed a tea bag, then call the vet right away. Do not induce vomiting, unless directed to do so by the vet.

How is Tea Bag Ingestion Treated in a Dog?

After you reach the vet’s office, they will try to decontaminate your dog’s system. This may be done with gastric lavage, by inducing vomiting, and/or administering activated charcoal.

If your fur baby has central nervous system symptoms, the vet may treat it with medications to stop them. These medications can include diazepam, phenothiazines, other tranquilizers, phenobarbital, and pentobarbital. They work to calm the central nervous system so the dog can feel better.

Once your dog is stabilized, the vet can treat other symptoms your canine companion may be experiencing. In some cases of severe symptoms, your dog may need to be hospitalized overnight or for a day or so.

Your dog’s recovery period depends on the amount of caffeine he ingested in the tea bag. It also depends on how long it takes for your fur baby to receive medical treatment.

When your dog feels better, the vet will allow him to go home and give you instructions on caring for your fur baby. Be sure to follow the vet’s instructions closely so your dog can recover successfully.

In most cases, with prompt treatment, your fur baby should be OK. But you’ll need to make sure not to leave tea or tea bags where your dog can access them in the future, especially if he has a habit of trying to eat tea bags!

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Tom

Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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