Can I Give My Dog Tea?
Water is boring.
We know that water is one of the healthiest beverages out there, but many of us get bored drinking eight glasses of the stuff every day. To alleviate the boredom, the health-conscious among us turn to one versatile alternative: tea. We drink tea to wake up in the morning, we drink tea to soothe our anxiety before bed, and we drink tea at social gatherings with friends and family. But there’s one member of the family who often gets left out: the dog.
The smell of tea brewing often gets Fido’s nose wiggling, but many pet owners are nervous at the thought of giving their dog any beverages other than water. Can dogs have tea? What if it makes them sick? Is it okay to pour a glass of tea into our canine companion’s water dish?
Well, it depends. If you are trying to figure out whether or not it’s okay to give your dog a taste of your new favorite tea blend, you need to get specific. Not all tea is created equally, and while some teas are unsafe for dogs, others may even provide health benefits. The general rule is this: if it contains significant amounts of caffeine, your dog should NOT drink it. Even decaffeinated black tea is a bad idea, because it contains high amounts of tannins, which can upset your dog’s digestion. This eliminates most black, white, and green teas, but it still leaves room for some dog-friendly herbal teas.
Teas to Give Your Dog
Chamomile tea in particular may have some health benefits for our dogs. While some people and dogs are allergic to chamomile, most tolerate flowering plants from the compositae family very well. If your dog is allergy-free, this can be an excellent beverage choice for your pet.
The most noticeable health benefit of chamomile tea for dogs is improved digestion. Chamomile tea is known for its ability to calm an upset stomach, relieve stomach and intestinal cramping, and aid in treating gas. If your dog winds up gassy due to anxiety or eating too quickly, giving them a serving of chamomile tea may help relieve their symptoms. Dogs with mild stomach upset and vomiting may benefit from drinking a cup of chamomile tea diluted with cold water.
Chamomile tea, which helps relax tense muscles, may also be a great choice for dogs recovering from injury or illness (assuming your vet gives the OK). And, because this tea has a mildly sweet flavor, most dogs will drink it without any fuss.
Rooibos tea is another dog-friendly herbal tea. This tea is known mostly for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Because it lacks caffeine and tannic acid, it is safe for dogs—both nontoxic and easy on their stomach. The high antioxidant content can potentially protect against the most devastating illnesses, like cancer, heart disease, and liver damage. Its biggest cancer fighters are Vitamin C, two different flavonoids, and a chemical called quercetin, which is also an anti-inflammatory.
This herbal tea calms digestion, helps relieve allergy symptoms, supports immune health, and may alleviate some of the pain that comes along with inflammatory illnesses like arthritis.
Both chamomile and rooibos tea can be an excellent choice for high-strung, aggressive or nervous dogs who need help calming down before bed. While dogs with severe behavioral problems should see a veterinarian, those with more mild stress and anxiety may benefit from a bit of tea when life gets stressful. If you give it to them to keep them calm at night, just remember to give it to them soon enough that you can let them out to empty their bladder before you go to bed!
Things to Keep in Mind
While most herbal teas are safe for dogs, it’s worth repeating that you should not give your dog any caffeinated tea—period. This means you need to carefully read the label on any tea blend you plan to share with your dog. While people can safely drink caffeine in moderation, dogs who consume more than a very small amount of caffeine can become very ill. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include trembling, panting, hypothermia, increased anxiety, aggression, pacing, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, seizures, and vomiting. If left untreated, this condition can lead to death, but most dogs who receive veterinary care make a full recovery.
When it comes to including Fido in your teatime routine, avoid caffeine, but know there are many dog-friendly, soothing herbal tea options you can share with them. Just remember to carefully read the label, strain out any loose tea leaves, and dilute the brewed tea with water until it is cool enough for your dog to drink. Because herbal tea is calorie-free, most dogs can consume it regularly without any negative health effects.