Home
Guest Posts
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
In the ER: What Happens When a Dog Eats Coffee
Tales from a Colorado ER
Coffee and dogs don't mix.

We used to have sign in our lobby that said “Any unsupervised children will get a cup of espresso and a free puppy.” We took it down after one of the clients asked what kind of puppy. We now have self-serve coffee in the lobby, and it’s not uncommon to see a kid trying to short-circuit the coffee maker.

Which brings us to the case of Tonsi, a seven-year-old, hyperactive Australian Shepherd who tore into the 50-pound sack of coffee beans his mom brought back from Nicaragua. Fortunately, he was discovered before he devoured the entire sack (which certainly would have resulted in his demise), but he did manage to scarf down several pounds.

Our staff has the routine down for toxin-ingestion cases: an injection of apomorphine to cause vomiting (it always works), followed by some charcoal to absorb any toxin from the intestines, then possibly IV fluids for 12 to 24 hours, depending on the ingested substance. To be honest, these indiscriminate dogs seem to keep our ER in business. Tonsi vomited up a large amount of undigested coffee beans soon after getting his apomorphine, but apparently there was a lot more caffeine on board, as we were soon to find out.

Tonsi’s heart continued to race at 180 to 200 beats per minute (normal should be around 80 to 90.) He was amped up and wired to the gills, jumping straight up in superman-like attempts to leap over the eight-foot tall run walls in a single bound. He gave all of us the jitters; it was almost as if Starbucks had spiked our water. I have to admit, equally enthused and irritated by Tonsi, I had been imbibing more than my share of coffee during the shift.

One of our nurses suggested giving Tonsi a beta blocker, which would help slow down his heart, but we did not have any stocked on the shelves. At this opportune time, enter (stage left) Corky, a six-year-old Cockapoo, who had just ingested his owner’s vial of medication, which included (guess what?) a beta blocker.

One more dose of apomorphine, and I found myself sifting through more vomitus. I spotted a small red tablet, perhaps the ingested beta blocker? Tonsi continued to wildly leap in his run, barking crazily. As I slid the red tablet out of the bilious slime with a tongue depressor, an idea crept into my over-caffeinated, somewhat deranged mind: Do I dare?

Print|Email
Dr. Jon Geller is an emergency veterinarian and freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colo. His pets include Raindog, a somewhat dysfunctional, but water-loving, lab mix. You can follow all of Dr. Geller's "In the ER" blogs. www.medhelp.org

iStockphoto

CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Anonymous | December 27 2009 |

Hey doc, Aren't you going to tell us what you decided to do? I wanna know.

Submitted by Jon Geller, DVM | December 27 2009 |

I chickened out and didn't give him the pill; after all, there are some regulations about giving a person, or a dog, prescription medication meant for someone else, even if it has been recycled. I just impatiently waited for the end of my shift so I could get away from that crazy dog!

Submitted by Scott Nimmo | May 17 2014 |

You can read more about the hazards of coffee grounds toxicity here : http://www.vetblog.net/2014/05/dog-just-ate-coffee-grounds.html

More From The Bark

By
Julia Kamysz Lane
By
Lisa Wogan
By
Lisa Wogan
More in Guest Posts:
Jedi Surfs
This Dog Loves Guitar!
Play Ball
Hope Needs a Forever Home
Dogs and Lipomas
Pittsburgh Symphony Goes to the Dogs
Mean Seed Season
Affordable Cure for Parvo
You are Invited to a Canine Science Conference
Southern Dog Rescues