Dogs should avoid caffeine

My male maltese loves to eat papaya and green tea leaves. Are they okay for him to eat?

Papaya is safe to be given to dogs. However, when they eat it in large quantities, it may cause diarrhoea.

Avoid feeding your dog any fruit together with the seeds or pits of cherries, apricots, durian, persimmons and peaches, for instance. The pits contain cyanide, which can be toxic to dogs and are also a potential cause of gastrointestinal irritation and obstruction.

Ensure the fruit is washed thoroughly before it is fed to your dog.

Some of the fruit you should avoid giving to dogs are grapes and raisins, star fruit, loquat and avocado.

As for the green tea leaves, it is the caffeine content you should be concerned about. Caffeine toxicity may cause adverse neurological, gastroenteric and cardiac-related symptoms.

Toxicity can occur when a dog ingests more than 40mg of caffeine for every kilogram of the dog's weight. In general, the risk of toxicity increases with smaller dogs.

There are many different types and brands of green tea with varying amounts of caffeine. An average tea bag contains 2g of tea leaves, or between 20 and 80mg caffeine, which means a 10kg dog only need to ingest five tea bags to risk the chance of toxicity.

It is generally not advisable to feed your pet any food products that contain caffeine.

This question was answered by Dr Travis Jayson, veterinary surgeon at The Pet Doctors Veterinary Clinic in Pandan Valley.

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