We’ve written a few posts now about what dogs can and shouldn’t eat. It’s not always as straightforward as you might think, and it can be a minefield for new dog owners. Dogs seem hard-wired to scavenge after the foods you’ve left out or forgotten to put away.
They’re also very good at begging, making it hard for owners to say no. And not to mention how quickly they can snaffle the leftovers that you never intended for them to eat. We’ve written some pretty bizarre food-related posts before (including can dogs can eat scrambled eggs with cheese and whether it’s okay for dogs to eat balsamic vinegar), but given that so many of us regularly have hot drinks, we wanted to find out can dogs drink herbal tea?
What is Herbal Tea?
Herbal teas are infusions made from herbs or spices. They’re different to what we’d consider ‘traditional teas’ (black, green, and white teas) because they don’t come from the leaves of the tea plant. You’d make peppermint tea, for example, by steeping peppermint leaves in boiling water. Ginger tea is made by steeping pieces of sliced or grated ginger. Most herbal teas are caffeine-free, making them a popular beverage to drink in the evening. Some people also ascribe certain health benefits to herbal teas and drink them to help reduce anxiety or inflammation. Many also believe that they have further health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain serious and chronic illnesses.
Can Dogs Drink Herbal Tea?
Herbal teas can be a catch-all term for several different types of tea. It’s always important to check the ingredients of anything you’re about to give to your dog. Some manufacturers may include components that you wouldn’t expect. For example, xylitol is commonly used in zero-sugar jams and is highly toxic to dogs.
It’s always a good idea to talk to a veterinarian to be sure, especially if your pet is taking medication, as some teas may upset prescribed medicines. Speaking to a pet healthcare professional is always a good idea whenever you’re introducing anything new into your dog’s diet, especially as dogs can be more sensitive to the effects of certain herbs than humans. Chamomile, for example, can be toxic in large quantities. Generally speaking, herbal teas aren’t considered dangerous to dogs.
Quite a few owners on the internet sing the benefits of rooibos teas for dogs, along with chamomile, ginger and peppermint teas. Chamomile helps reduce anxiety, and peppermint can help to improve a dog’s digestion. You may also want to try herbal tea if you’re struggling to get your dog to drink.
There are a few things to consider if you plan to give your dog herbal tea to drink.
Firstly, don’t let your dog eat the teabag because it’s a choking hazard. Always remove it first (and remember to remove the leaves if you’re using loose tea).
Secondly, make sure that what you’re giving your dog is caffeine-free, as caffeine in large amounts can be toxic to dogs, especially smaller breeds. We’d recommend you read up on caffeine toxicity, just in case you ever need to know what the signs are.
Thirdly, make sure the tea has cooled sufficiently before giving it to your dog. The last thing you want is your pet burning its mouth on the hot liquid.
Fourthly, you shouldn’t add anything to the tea but serve it plain. Don’t add honey, milk, sugars or sweeteners as there’s no nutritional benefit, and it could make your dog ill. For example, some dogs may be lactose intolerant, and sweeteners can be deadly to pets. Xylitol, which we mentioned earlier, is one such ingredient in sweeteners.
Fifthly, keep the portions small and base these on your dog’s size and weight. On the Republic of Tea website, the guidance is for dogs between 1 and 20 pounds to have a one quarter to half cup daily, for medium dogs of between 20 and 50 pounds a half-cup to 1-cup daily, with large dogs up to 80 pounds have 1 to 2 cups daily. Guides like this can be helpful, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially in the beginning, as some dogs have sensitive stomachs. Finally, be careful about giving dogs ‘fruit teas’. Whilst most won’t contain caffeine (and will probably be included in the herbal tea section of the store), they contain sugars that can be bad for a dog’s teeth. They can be bad for the enamel on human tea too!
Should I let My Dog Drink Herbal Tea?
Dogs can enjoy caffeine-free, sugar-free, sweetener-free, room temperature herbal tea, but there’s no need for your dog to have it. Water is just fine. If your dog has a condition that you believe might be helped with herbal teas, speak to your veterinarian and ask them for the amount they’d recommend.
One of the things that we always say is to be careful not to project your tastes onto your pets. Sometimes, we see our dogs drinking plain old water, and we feel sorry for them. Imagine if all you did was drink tap water day after day—you’d get fed up pretty quickly, wouldn’t you? But it’s not like that for dogs, though. Water is the best thing you can give them, and it’s essential to their health because it keeps them hydrated without any additional nasties and isn’t detrimental to their health.