Monday, July 30, 2012

Tea for two, but not for Ru'

Rufus slept through that day's tea time (above), as he does most afternoons. I'd never thought of offering him a cup, until last night.

While trying to induce drowsiness on an overnight train from Memphis back to Chicago, I listened to a short series of recordings from the BBC — actor Alec Guinness reading bits from his memoir, My Name Escapes Me. (I don't mean to imply that this was dull and thus sleep-inducing — quite the contrary — rather that Guinness' stately monotone was just the train ticket for relaxing one's nerves.) In one of the passages, he mentions his dog's failing health but adds that the dog was feeling better that day, part of his evidence being that the dog lapped up a saucer of tea.

Can a dog or cat drink tea? Veterinary information is surprisingly scattershot online (where's the trustworthy WebMD for cats and dogs already?), but here's what I've pieced together from searches and a call to our neighborhood pooch practice:

Offering tea or coffee to cats or dogs is not a great idea. Sugar is terrible for both, dogs are usually intolerant of milk and, most importantly, caffeine negatively affects those smaller nervous systems (cats, in particular, are prone to heart palpitations and sometimes muscle tremors from caffeine). A small cup of decaffeinated tea — cooled down! — shouldn't hurt, but a habit of it would be bad for both bladders. Tea does not, as has been reported out there, promote growth in dogs, according to our vet.

In sum: enjoy your tea, but give Rowlf and Ruby a straight shot of your fresh, filtered water instead.

And mind where you set your cup. Dogs'll drink just about anything.

1 comment:

  1. Haha...a side note, but I've started to trust WebMD a lot less these days, and I now prefer .Mayo Clinic as a source of medical information, when the two sites overlap. In the few cases where I've known enough about a subject to be able to judge the accuracy of the material there, I've found Mayo Clinic to be a superior source.

    On caffeine and pets though, I've also read that pets' abilities to metabolize caffeine is limited and that it can be harmful in much lower doses than it would take to harm a human. It makes sense, as dogs and cats are both predominately meat-eaters in nature, and they also have smaller body sizes. It's the same reason chocolate is also problematic to them.