My Dog Has Eaten Coffee Grounds

Are coffee grounds toxic to your dog? ¹

You’re sitting in the living room watching TV like you do every evening when your pup comes up to you to give you some love.

That’s when you notice little black particles around her mouth. You start wondering to yourself, “what is that?

Then you see a trail of black particles coming from your garbage bag by the back door. You get up to take a closer look, and that’s when you realize it’s coffee grounds!

You start worrying if it’s harmful to your dog and wondering how much could she have eaten. 

If you have been in this situation, know someone who has, or maybe just curious. Then take a look at what this article has to say. We will go over various questions regarding your dog and coffee grounds.

Why are coffee grounds dangerous?

Coffee grounds have high levels of caffeine content. While we as humans enjoy a cup of coffee or two, caffeine is very toxic for your dog. Caffeine, also known as methylxanthine is a stimulant that dogs cannot digest the way humans can. Your pup’s body is very sensitive to caffeine and it can harm them greatly.

when we have too much caffeine we start to get jittery and our heart races. Dogs also have the same symptoms but much greater than us humans. 

Let’s also not forget other things like chocolate and soda that also carry caffeine in them. These are the type of things you must also keep away from your pup. Knowing the dangers of coffee grounds, let’s take a look closer at fresh grounds and used grounds.

Are fresh grounds more dangerous than used grounds?

Since caffeine is a toxin for our dogs, let’s take a closer look at the caffeine content in fresh and used grounds.

A study done by a department of nutrition showed that used coffee grounds still had high amounts of caffeine in them. The flavor quality was less however, the caffeine content was still high.

 Another study done by a coffee brewing company showed that the caffeine content could lessen depending on the brew of the coffee. Because caffeine is water-soluble, the caffeine content in the grounds can become weak depending on the amount of time it was brewed, and the way it was brewed. Now that we know this, let’s take a look at the caffeine content in different kinds of roasts.

  1. Are dark roast grounds more dangerous than light roast grounds?

Dark roast coffee is when coffee beans have been over-roasted to an almost burnt state. Because of this process, the beans lose flavor and even caffeine content, which means even though it’s less toxic for your dog, it’s still toxic. Light roasted coffee has a higher caffeine content compared to dark roast. That’s right you guessed it, its because the light roast doesn’t get roasted as much as the dark roast. That means it has more flavor and more caffeine.

As you can see it’s the roasting process that lowers the caffeine content in the coffee. As I said before, the dark roast has less caffeine than light however, both are still toxic for your dog. Having explored the different roasts, I bet you’re thinking “what about decaffeinated grounds? Let’s take a look at that next.

Are decaf coffee grounds safe to eat?

Because decaffeinated coffee grounds have no caffeine in them, yes it is safer for your dog to consume, but not recommended. Your dog might still have light symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting from an upset tummy, but it should not last long. Still watch your dog closely to see if symptoms arise. If symptoms do arise and they don’t go away, call your vet.

Did you know that the caffeine is extracted using water and activated carbon while the beans are still green before they’re roasted? Now that we know more about decaffeinated coffee grounds, let’s look at how much caffeine will kill a dog. 

How much caffeine will kill a dog?

 It takes about 70 mg per 1 pound of caffeine to kill a pup. Used coffee grounds carry 4 to 8 mg of caffeine per gram which is 12 table spoons. That means for big dogs it would take lots of coffee grounds to kill them. On the other hand, it would take much fewer coffee grounds to kill a small dog

For example, a small dog such as a Yorkie or Chihuahua would only need 6 teaspoons of coffee grounds for it to be harmful. A medium-sized dog like a beagle or Scottish terrier would only need 15 teaspoons of coffee grounds for it to be harmful. A large dog like a German Shepherd would only need 45 teaspoons of coffee grounds to be harmful. And for a much larger dog like a Great Dane and St Bernard, it would take 20 tablespoons of coffee grounds to be harmful.

Did you know, the average Cafetiere pot of coffee has about 21 teaspoons of caffeine in it and a Moka pot has about the same?

There is a great caffeine calculator resource online that can calculate the caffeine content of a drink per weight of the person or animal. Available also online is a dog caffeine toxic consumption chart which can be very useful in a situation where your dog has consumed coffee grounds.

Once your dog has eaten the grounds it would be really hard to tell how much they have consumed. Keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of caffeine poisoning. Which we will talk about next.

What are the symptoms of caffeine poisoning? 

If you think your pup has eaten coffee grounds and you are not sure how much, here are some symptoms to be looking out for. Vomiting, diahrrea, excessive drinking and urination, heart arrhythmia, tremors, seizures. These symptoms will start to occur about 30 mins to 1 hour after consumption.

Body language is also something you can look out for if your pup has eaten coffee grounds, these include growling, weakness, tail tucking, head bobbing, and any other body language that may seem strange to you.

 If your dog has eaten coffee grounds the first thing you should do is call your vet. Your vet is trained for this kind of situation and they’re well educated on what to do. Now that we know the symptoms of caffeine poisioning let’s check out the next topic, Are coffee beans more dangerous than coffee grounds?

Are coffee beans more dangerous than coffee grounds?

Coffee grounds are coffee beans that have been blended up in a grinder to form chips that can be brewed. Which means they are the same thing just in different forms. However, used coffee grounds are less dangerous than coffee beans because they have been brewed through hot water which weakens the caffeine content in the coffee. 

Some coffee drinkers like to use the leftover coffee grounds as compost for their soil. It is said to have many benefits to the soil, so healthy plants can grow. If you choose to do something like this with your used coffee grounds, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the soil. Here’s an interesting thought, I wonder if coffee can be used with dogs in a safe way? Well, guess what? We are going to look at that next.

Are there any ways in which coffee grounds can be used safely with dogs?

Coffee grounds contain many minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium which can be beneficial for dogs however, they also contain catechols which can upset your dog’s stomach. Unless you can completely extract all the caffeine from the grounds, and the catechols, coffee grounds cannot be used safely with dogs. There is also not enough evidence or studies that have been done to support this. 

A good way to keep your dog away from coffee grounds is to either use your grounds as compost. (Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the area it’s being sprinkled on,) or put the coffee grounds in a plastic bag and tie it in a knot before disposing of it in the garbage.

Final thoughts: If your dog does happen to come across some coffee grounds and you think she has ingested some, first call your vet and explain the situation to him. Then take a look at the caffeine calculator followed by the dog toxic consumption chart to check your pup’s weight per caffeine content. Also, look out for signs, symptoms, and body language. Remember if it’s decaffeinated grounds you don’t have much to worry about except maybe an upset tummy

Don’t be so hard on yourself if Bengy got into the coffee grounds. Stuff like that happens all the time. Just dispose of the grounds better next time and keep your garbage where your dog can’t get to it. 

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!