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My Dog Ate a Tea Bag: Here’s What to Do (Vet Answer)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Putting tea bag into glass cup full of hot water

Not all tea varieties are safe for dogs. For example, green, black, or white teas contain theine, a substance similar to caffeine, and dogs should never have caffeine.

So, if your dog has eaten one or more tea bags, it is vital to contact the veterinarian immediately and tell them what kind of tea your pet consumed and how much. Depending on the tea that your dog ate, the veterinarian can give you advice on the best approach. They may tell you to make your dog vomit, but more likely, they will ask you to take your pet to the clinic ASAP.

Read on to learn which teas are toxic for dogs, other complications that can arise from a dog eating a tea bag, and how much tea is toxic for dogs.

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What Should I Do If My Dog Eats a Tea Bag?

If your dog has eaten something that they shouldn’t, you must not panic. You will likely make mistakes that can do your dog more harm than good. Here’s what you should do if your dog has eaten one or more tea bags.

1. Check Your Dog’s Mouth

There is a possibility that your dog stole the tea bag and kept it in their mouth without swallowing it. Check your dog’s mouth, and see if they are holding the tea bag in their cheek. If this is the case with your pet, gently remove it, and be more careful where you place your tea bags in the future.

2. Give Water to Your Dog

If your dog has swallowed a hot tea bag, there are chances that they will get thermal burns. To make your pet feel better, offer them fresh water. Water will soothe the burns. Do not force your dog to drink water if they do not want to because they can choke.

Close up of a hand is holding a paper cup for husky dog to drink water
Image Credit: Anciens Huang, Shutterstock

3. Check the Ingredients

It is vital to know what kind of tea your dog ingested and in what quantity, in order to tell the veterinarian. Black, green, white, or oolong teas contain caffeine and theobromine, two compounds that can become toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. Herbal and decaffeinated teas are generally safe for dogs. However, even if the tea that your dog has consumed is safe, the tea bag itself can cause problems (diarrhea or intestinal obstruction).

4. Call the Vet

It is advisable to contact the veterinarian whenever you have a problem with your pet. If your dog has consumed a tea bag, have the package at hand when you call the veterinarian so you can tell them what ingredients it contains. The vet will mainly want to know whether the tea contains caffeine because in large quantities, it can be dangerous for canines. Also, contact the vet if the tea is from an unusual kind of plant.

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Image Credit: SvetikovaV, Shutterstock

5. Follow the Directions

The vet may recommend making your dog vomit. It is best to listen to the vet’s specific advice and not try any suggestions that you find online because you risk doing more harm and delaying proper treatment.

Your vet may also tell you to monitor your dog for potential clinical signs (restlessness, rapid breathing, tremors, etc.).

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Are Tea Bags Bad for Dogs?

Not all teas are bad for dogs, but even if your dog has eaten a tea that is not toxic to them, the bag itself can cause problems, so you need to be careful.

Here’s what can happen if your dog eats a tea bag.

1. Intoxication

veterinarian examining a sick Rhodesian ridgeback dog
Image Credit: Zontica, Shutterstock

Some teas contain caffeine/theine, theobromine, tannins, and theophylline. All these substances can be toxic for dogs, especially caffeine, which can be found in high concentrations in certain types of tea.


Teas containing caffeine/theine are the most dangerous for dogs because if they are consumed in large quantities, they can lead to complications. Basically, dogs need to consume quite a few tea bags before becoming intoxicated.

Caffeine can be toxic to dogs if consumed in doses of 140 mg/kg (63 mg/lb.).

Clinical signs of caffeine poisoning in dogs may include:
  • Agitation
  • Fast breathing
  • Tremors
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Seizures

However, not all dogs are the same. Some dogs can consume multiple tea bags and not show any clinical signs, and others can suffer complications at low doses.

The main types of tea that contain caffeine are:
  • Black tea
  • Darjeeling
  • Green tea
  • Oolong tea
  • White tea

Also, be careful because many flavored teas contain black tea (e.g., berry, lemon, etc.). Always check the ingredients on the package before giving tea to your dog or after they eat a tea bag.

Teas that do not contain caffeine and are considered safe for dogs are:
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile (can be toxic if consumed in large quantities)
  • Rooibos
  • Decaffeinated teas


Black, green, white, or oolong teas contain tannins (phenolic chemical compounds). These teas can upset your dog’s stomach and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.


Theobromine is an alkaloid found in cocoa, coffee beans, and tea leaves. As a result, certain types of tea also contain theobromine.

Like caffeine, it is toxic to dogs, and clinical signs of intoxication with this alkaloid may include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Tremors
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate

2. Digestive Issues

Tea bags can upset your pet’s stomach and lead to vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases (and depending on how many tea bags your dog ate), it can even lead to intestinal blockage.

Clinical signs of intestinal blockage in dogs may include:
  • Straining to defecate
  • Vomiting (especially repetitive vomiting)
  • Diarrhea/constipation
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration

Intestinal blockages can be life threatening if not intervened in time.

3. Allergic Reactions

a sick beagle dog lying on the floor
Image Credit: Elena Loza, Shutterstock

In some cases, your dog may suffer an allergic reaction if they consume a tea bag.

Signs of allergic reactions in dogs may include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea/soft stools
  • Red skin
  • Itching
  • Excessive scratching
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swollen of the face

4. Thermal Burns

If the tea bag that your dog ate was hot, they could suffer from thermal burns in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Besides the fact that these burns are painful, they can lead to infections.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Drink Herbal Tea?

Teas that are safe (in moderation) for dogs are rooibos, chamomile, echinacea, peppermint, and ginger. It is still good to talk to your vet before giving your dog one of these teas because chamomile tea can be toxic to dogs in large quantities, for example. It is safer and more advisable to give them fresh water instead of tea. If you still want to give tea to your dog, make sure it does not contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, or milk.

Can I Give Ginger Tea to My Dog?

You can give ginger tea to your dog but in moderation. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can help your dog with bloating, gas, or nausea. However, it is recommended to consult your veterinarian before giving any to your dog. Tea should not replace fresh water, nor should it contain sugar or milk

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If your dog swallowed a tea bag, don’t panic. Check if they still have the tea bag in their mouth. If this is the case, take it out gently, and make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. If the tea bag was hot, it might have burned your dog. In this case, offer them fresh water, but don’t force them to drink if they don’t want to. In any case, contact the veterinarian. They may recommend inducing vomiting if your dog has eaten the tea bag. Otherwise, you will have to take your dog to the clinic. Some teas contain caffeine/theine, which can cause poisoning in high concentrations. Also, the tea bag itself can block your dog’s intestines, which can lead to life-threatening complications.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: slawomir.gawryluk, Shutterstock

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