He Inhaled The Tea Leaves

A Yorkshire terrier sniffing CTC Assam tea leaves spilled on a tile floor.

Disclaimer #1: I am not in veterinary science and am NOT endorsing any form of caffeine intake for animals.

Disclaimer #2: The dog is fine. Crazy, but fine!

I did not expect the crazy dog to run over to the pile of tea leaves as soon as I dropped the tin of tea. Louis Charles was faster than me this time.

The dropped tea 

I was preparing my morning cup of tea when a tea tin fell off the shelf and landed on the floor. It was a wonderfully rich, full bodied and malty Assam tea from India. The tea leaves were manufactured into little tiny pellets/balls and were called CTC tea leaves. CTC tea, which stands for cut-tear-curl, is a style of manufacturing that was developed in India in the late 1800’s. The industrial type of processing tea leaves was designed to help India keep up with the English demand for black tea. Plucked tea leaves are taken to a manufacturing location where the leaves, after oxidation, are placed in big industrial machines that proceed to cut, tear, and curl (CTC) the leaves into the tiny pellet/ball shapes. This is the same type of tea that eventually ended up on my floor.

I could smell the maltiness and fragrant caramelized burnt sugar aroma emanating from the pile of tea leaves that had spilled on the tile floor. I am assuming that Louis Charles could smell the tea as well. Before I knew it, my dog had planted his nose in the middle of the tea pile. “Great” I thought. Now the dog is going to be extra crazy, full of energy, and rambunctious due to possible caffeine intake from the inhaled tea leaves. I wiped off his nose and tried to clean his scraggly beard of the tiny tea leaves. I made sure the water bowl was full of water (to maybe dilute the caffeine), gave him a little snack (to settle his stomach and hopefully minimize the caffeine reaction), watched the crazy dog, and hoped for the best.

Caffeine And Dogs 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. The very reason people tend to drink a caffeinated beverage early in the morning, mid-day or in the evening when staying awake is important, is the very reason it can cause serious side effects for dogs. An intake of caffeine can possibly have an alert, or awake effect for people. Some other common possible side effects of caffeine are causing a sense of alertness in the brain, it may cause an increase in heart rate or an increase in blood pressure, just to name a few.

Dogs have a different metabolism, smaller body weight than humans, and different sensitivity thresholds to foods than humans. Their bodies go through similar but more pronounced processes and chemical reactions to foods than we would go through. For example, a box of chocolates, when eaten in its entirety in one sitting, may give me a severe stomach ache, but may prove to bring on a serious reaction, or even fatality, in a dog. Speaking of chocolate, I checked in with my veterinarian clinic to help me better understand exactly why chocolate in particular, is extremely toxic to dogs. The veterinarian technician stated that chocolate is a double whammy to dogs because of the high fat content and the caffeine content. Veterinary Centers of America Inc. (VCA) emphasized that ingesting caffeine can cause the heart to have improper heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmia) and an increase in blood pressure. Other symptoms of caffeine reactions in dogs could include an upset stomach, muscle spasms, or even seizures. While humans may feel fine after several cups of a caffeinated beverage, it could prove fatal to dogs. The safest amount of caffeine intake for dogs is actually no caffeine intake for dogs. The best medicine for a dog is prevention of inhaling, or ingesting a caffeinated drink, or food item.

During the holiday season, food is in more accessible locations for dogs to possibly reach. Remember, caffeine and chocolate can prove fatal for dogs. So please place food and beverage items well out of reach of dogs.

Louis Was Full Of Energy 

Louis was extra zippy, and zingy for awhile. He bolted around the house instead of his normal walking speed. Frequently, Louis bounced from a chair, to a couch, and then would rebound off into his bed on the floor. Louis sneezed repeatedly. He finally settled down approximately 2 hours after he sniffed and possibly inhaled the tea leaves. 

The next time he inhales dried tea leaves (it probably will happen again because he is fast, and I sometimes drop things), I will call my veterinarian before a surge of energy starts to occur, and not after the event. Caffeine and dogs are not a good mix.

A cup of tea is a moment of serenity in a crazy dog filled life.

Leslie 

References:

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/caffeine-toxicity-in-pets

https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body

About The Author

A photo of Leslie on the patio wearing a pink cardiganLeslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea.  No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!

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