Can German Shepherds Drink Tea? Dangers of Caffeine


german shepherd with iced tea and tea leaf

Tea is a delicious drink that can pick up your energy levels in the morning or help you to relax before sleep. Many human food and drinks are suitable and even beneficial for dogs. However, is tea one of them? 

German Shepherds can not drink tea with caffeine. They risk developing caffeine toxicity, causing restlessness, a racing heart, hyperactivity, vomiting, seizures, and death. However, small amounts of green tea can have antioxidants that treat cancer, hepatitis, and arthritis. 

In this article, we’ll explore the negative and positive effects of drinking tea for German Shepherds.

We cover everything there is to know in the specific context of a German Shepherd so that you can make informed choices.

Let’s get started! 

What Are the Negative Effects of Drinking Tea?  

The negative effects of drinking tea are related to the caffeine content. Caffeine can cause various side effects in dogs and can even be fatal at toxic consumption levels. 

Caffeine in Tea Acts as a Stimulant

Caffeine is a naturally-occurring stimulantOpens in a new tab. found in many foods and drinks, including coffee, cacao, and tea.

Once absorbed into the bloodstream, it inhibits the production of the chemical adenosine. Because adenosine is responsible for relaxing the brain, it keeps the brain alert and awake.

Caffeine also stimulates the production of dopamine and norephedrine, which increases arousal and brain activity.

It has similar effects on dogs as it does on humans. It stimulates the central nervous systemOpens in a new tab., which connects to most parts of the body. 

This stimulation has various effects, including an increase in blood pressure from the presence of more adrenaline. It also temporarily reduces the hormones that widen arteries, which also increases the blood pressure.

Caffeine also increases the quantity of stomach acid and can affect the muscular system, commonly causing twitchy muscles. 

Further effects of caffeine on dogs include:

  • Restlessness
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Heavy panting
  • Vomiting
  • Irritation 

While no amount of caffeine is good for dogs, higher quantities are more harmful.

This is also relative to the dog’s weight, so German Shepherds have to consume more caffeine to experience the same negative effects. 

This table shows common teas and their amount of caffeine per servingOpens in a new tab..

TeaMilligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces (236ml)
Black 40-70
Green35-45
White15-30
Oolong37-55
Herbal0

This table explains the effects of caffeine on dogsOpens in a new tab. according to their body weight. 

Milligrams of caffeine per pound (453g) of body weightEffects
14Agitation/restlessness
23-27Cardiotoxicity 

German Shepherd males weigh between 65 and 90 pounds (29 and 40kg) and females between 50 and 70 pounds (22 and 31kg). 

Therefore, if your German Shepherd weighs 70 pounds (31kg), they will need to ingest 980 milligrams of caffeine to start experiencing agitation, and 1610 milligrams to go into cardiotoxicity.

This is the equivalent of 14 and 23 cups of black tea, respectively. 

However, if you have a small German Shepherd of 50 pounds (22kg), the stakes are much higher. They will start experiencing symptoms and caffeine toxicity after just 10 cups and 16 cups of black tea, respectively. 

Caffeine can stay in a dog’s system for up to 12 hours, which means that if your German Shepherd is drinking tea multiple times a day, this can add up to cumulative negative effects. 

Drinking Tea Can Cause Caffeine Toxicity

In severe cases, your German Shepherd can experience caffeine toxicity. This happens when the level of caffeine in a dog’s blood reaches dangerous levels. 

Dogs easily absorb caffeine, and withinOpens in a new tab. 45 minutes, most dogs will have absorbed 99% of the caffeine they were exposed to.

Within 30 to 60 minutes, dogs will reach the highest concentrations of caffeine in their blood 2 hours after exposure. They can start to show symptoms of an overdose. 

Signs of caffeine toxicity include:

  • Seizures 
  • Tremors
  • Coma
  • Death

If your dog exhibits signs of caffeine toxicity or has consumed a lot of caffeine, you should immediately take them to the vet. 

What Are the Positive Effects of Drinking Tea?

Green tea, in particular, can have positive implications for preventing and treating common diseases in German Shepherds.

However, because of caffeine’s negative impacts, you should seek green tea extract or teas that have minimal to no caffeine content. 

Green Tea Can Prevent and Treat Cancer

Green tea contains multiple antioxidantOpens in a new tab. chemicals. Antioxidants slow down the process of oxidation, which damages cells.

Oxidation is often responsible for developing cancers, so antioxidants could theoretically prevent this process. 

The antioxidants in green tea includeOpens in a new tab.:

  • Epicatechin (EC)
  • Epigallocatechin (EGC)
  • Epicatechin gallate (ECG)
  • Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)  

Studies have shown that EGCG can prevent cancer. It does so by killing cancer cells and preventing the growth of cancer cells.

It also works in a similar way to chemotherapy drugs by blocking cancer cell receptors. 

ECGC can also be used during cancer treatments of dogs. It helps the treatment by increasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

It also reduces the swelling and inflammation of surrounding cells that are damaged during treatment.

Lastly, it can treat secondary tumors that are caused by chemotherapy. 

The cancers most commonly treatable by green teaOpens in a new tab. include:

  • Stomach cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer

German Shepherds are one of the top 9 dog breeds that are most likely to develop cancer.

Therefore, green tea can be a great preventative measure to avoid these diseases. 

Green Tea Can Treat Hepatitis

The antioxidant chemicals in green tea can also treat hepatitis. Hepatitis is a common disease in both humans and dogs.

It is a chronic inflammation of the liverOpens in a new tab., caused by viral infections, bacteria, or ingested toxins. 

Hepatitis causes the following symptoms:

  • Minimized appetite 
  • Extreme thirst and more frequent urination
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Stomach inflammation
  • Jaundice 

Because hepatitis is largely inflammationOpens in a new tab., the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea can treat and relieve the symptoms.

Generally, vets prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to treat the disease. Green tea extract could be a great supplement. 

German Shepherds are genetically predisposed to developing chronic hepatitisOpens in a new tab., so it could be an issue that comes up in your dog’s life.  

Green Tea Can Treat Arthritis

Arthritis is a painful condition that affects many large breed dogs. It is a chronic and persisting inflammation of the joints, commonly found in older and overweight dogs. 

Some of the common kinds of arthritis found in dogs are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Knee dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia

You may notice that your German Shepherd is developing arthritis because of reduced mobility, limping, weight gain, reduced interest in food and exercise, whimpering while moving, and generally low mood.

German Shepherds are one of the breeds that are genetically more likely to develop arthritisOpens in a new tab.

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, green tea could be used as part of a treatment plan for arthritis.

While it will not cure the condition, it could be used to relieve some of the pain and swelling.

If you have a German Shepherd with no arthritis, it could also help avoid the condition. 

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds should steer clear of caffeinated tea. However, green tea without caffeine can have promising health benefits like preventing and treating cancer, hepatitis, and arthritis.

Because German Shepherds are genetically more likely to develop several cancers and hepatitis, green tea’s antioxidant properties can be useful as part of a prevention and treatment plan.

Refer to this article if your dog accidentally consumes green tea.

However, as always, you should consult a veterinary professional before using green tea for medical reasons with your German Shepherd.

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds for over 18 years now. I'm originally from Indiana, though I've lived in many different states and traveled extensively. The places change, my dogs don't. German Shepherds have been my constant companions. I love every aspect of training them and simply just having them around. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge about German Shepherds with the world, and I encourage all future dog owners to consider one as a companion as well. Read my story here.

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