Guest Contribution by Indiana Lee
As a pet owner, you’ve probably heard multiple times that tea and coffee can be toxic to your dogs. But it’s usually nothing more than the caffeine in these drinks that can cause problems. If you’re a tea drinker, you already know that not every variety contains caffeine.
In fact, some herbal teas might be beneficial for your pets. Think about the benefits you get when you drink it – including a boost of antioxidants and a calming, peaceful effect. Your pets might be able to receive the same benefits when they ingest the right kind of tea under your supervision.
So, if you’re looking for something other than water that’s safe for your pets to drink, consider looking at certain types of herbal tea. If you’re not sure where to start, let’s cover a few safe varieties your pet will enjoy, and what benefits you might expect them to experience.
Is Tea Bad for Dogs?
First, let’s squash the myth that tea is bad for dogs or other pets. It isn’t the tea itself that tends to be harmful. Rather, again, it’s the caffeine. In animals, caffeine raises blood pressure and can cause cardiac arrhythmias. It can also cause your pets to lose control of their muscles and have digestive issues.
Pets are often considered part of the family. So it’s important to know which foods and drinks can cause harm. Caffeine is just one example of ingestibles that are toxic to dogs. Some others include:
- Sugar-free gum/candy
- Human medication
- Apple seeds
It can be tempting to give your pet “human food” from time to time, especially if you know something tastes good or they’re looking at you with those big brown eyes like they haven’t eaten in weeks (even though you fed them an hour ago). The occasional human treat isn’t a bad thing. But, before you give your pet anything other than their standard food, make sure you do your research on how it may affect them.
What Are the Benefits of Tea for Dogs?
If it’s the caffeine that can cause harm to dogs and other pets, are there any benefits to giving them a caffeine-free option? The answer is yes. Many of the benefits you get from certain types of tea can carry over to your pets, too.
For example, tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine. If you have a dog that struggles with separation anxiety – and between 20-40% do – the calming effects of L-theanine can help to ease their worries and reduce their fears while you’re away.
Many people drink tea for the antioxidants. But, did you know your pet can benefit from them, too? Not only will the antioxidants in tea help to promote your pet’s general well-being and boost their immune system, but they can also help with conditions like:
- Cardiovascular disease
If you’re looking for natural alternatives to prescription or over-the-counter medications for your pets, consider adding decaffeinated tea to their diet. Keep in mind that it’s most important to focus on their overall nutrition rather than just trying to find a “quick fix” for an ongoing ailment.
Pet nutrition needs can change with age or for a variety of other reasons. But tea can actually be a great option for your senior dog that might be dealing with inflammation, arthritis, or other conditions. Consider talking to your pet’s vet before adding anything to their diet plan. Your vet can give you more insight on how much tea to give your pet and what other benefits you might expect.
How to Serve Tea to Your Dogs
The most important aspect of serving tea to your dog is to know which teas will be beneficial. Almost any caffeine-free option will work. But if you want your pet to truly get something out of it, some varieties are better than others. The best options for your pet include:
- Ginger tea
- Peppermint tea
- Rooibos tea
- Chamomile tea
As far as serving your pet tea, you can prepare it the same way you would if you were making a cup for yourself. Whether you use commercial tea bags or make your own custom brew, there’s no special process it needs to go through to be safer for pets. However, leave out any “extras” you might traditionally put in your cup. Things like cream, sugar, and honey aren’t necessarily toxic to pets. But they can cause stomach problems and other health issues if they’re consumed too often.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the tea isn’t too hot when you’re serving it to your pet. You wait for your cup to cool down before sipping it, so be sure to do the same before letting your four-legged friend lap it up.
If you’re a tea-drinker and pet-lover all wrapped into one, there’s no reason you can’t make a cup for your furry companion from time to time, especially if you want them to experience the benefits of certain herbal teas. Just make sure you’re giving them a safe variety and that it’s something they actually consider a treat. You both can enjoy your next cup (or bowl, in their case), and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re providing something healthy for them.