WOOF! The health benefits of green tea for people are no secret, but did you know there are benefits to giving green tea to your dog? That's right! Your four-legged friend can also enjoy the health benefits of green tea alongside you – though it's also essential to know it doesn't come without risk.
When done right, green tea can have a substantial positive impact on your pet's health – green tea can give your pooch fresher breath, stronger bones, and dry skin and itch relief, to name a few– but it is important to be aware of the risks of regularly giving your dog green tea.
In the following post, we highlight exactly what you need to know about giving green tea to your dog in a safe way.
So, please keep reading to find out how to keep your dog healthy and safe when sharing your matcha green tea with them.
The seven scientifically-studied benefits of matcha green tea for dogs
Maintain a healthy weight
Just like us, some dogs can be prone to weight gain and putting on a few too many pounds. Overweight dogs often have high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and other health problems. Though it shouldn't be used as a tool to help your dog lose weight fast, studies have shown that green tea can help your dog maintain a healthy weight if they are prone to weight gain, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. (13)
Better bone health
Green tea can be particularly beneficial to an older dog with weakening bones or a dog suffering from osteoarthritis. In one study that looked at a mixture of dog breeds over three months, dogs given daily treats with green tea extract experienced a significant reduction in pain, with notable improvement to rise from lying down to standing up. (4)
Fresher breath and improved oral health
Did you know that periodontal disease is one of the most prevalent diseases in dogs and cats and the number one cause behind health-related ailments?
Green tea is excellent for your dog's oral health, and regularly giving your dog green tea can help keep their canine fangs in tip-top shape. In one study that focused on the impact of drinking organic matcha green tea on dog dental plaque, dogs who were given organic matcha green tea daily experienced a 37% reduction in plaque buildup in just 14 days. This makes sense since green tea has strong anti-inflammatory powers, which help to address periodontal disease (gum disease). A systematic review of green tea studies around oral health also found regularly drinking helps alleviate bad breath. (2) (7) (11) (14) (16)
Less doggy dandruff and dry, itchy skin
Dandruff is an all-too-common problem dog-owners face. Generally, dandruff is a skin condition caused by a dog's skin being too oily or too dry – and it causes them to itch – a lot. Luckily, studies have shown you can give your dog green tea or apply it topically to help soothe and calm down irritated skin. For example, in a study where a mix of antioxidants, including green tea, was blended into dogs' food for 60 days, results showed over 45% of the dogs consuming green tea experienced a significant reduction of itching.
The antifungal and antimicrobial properties of green tea that fight off mites and other bacteria often found on a dog's coat have made it a popular ingredient in dog shampoos aiming to help control dandruff. Plus, green tea is packed with vitamin E and vitamin C, which nourish dry skin and boost natural collagen production. (4)
A healthier coat of hair
There have been countless studies done around green tea promoting human hair growth, so it is no surprise dog owners have found green tea also has eyebrow-raising benefits for their dog's hair health. Is your dog's hair getting matted and dull with age? Green tea may help give your dog's coat back a healthy shine and luster and also help stimulate hair growth. We recommend using it topically, as it will also be wonderfully beneficial to your dog's skin health. Don't have a dog shampoo with green tea extract? No problem! You can make some matcha or regular green tea and then mix it with shampoo and water in a bucket. And voila! (10)
Do you have an older dog who has cancer, or are you concerned about cancer down the line? Consider asking your veterinarian about supplementing green tea.
With antioxidant levels through the roof, you may have guessed that green tea can also be good at protecting your dog from cancer. Studies have shown that green tea has cancer-fishing properties against common cancers found in dogs – though there is an important finding in one 2011 study with beagles. Researchers found that when given to dogs who were fasting, green tea could have detrimental effects and be lethal to dogs in high doses – but when taken with food, results showed green tea to be a good herbal medicine to combat cancer. (9) (17)
Better behavior (Who’s a good girl!)
We all have those moments where – as much as we love our furry friends – we do wish they could behave a little better. Is your dog hyperactive at times or suffering from anxiety? Giving them matcha green tea with their food may help them calm down. One study that examined the impact of a dog's diet on their mental health found that the l-theanine in green tea can help boost serotonin and dopamine levels in dogs, alleviating stress and anxiety. There are various natural herbs and approaches to improving a dog's behavior. So if you are considering using green tea to address your dog's behavior, it's always best to talk to your veterinarian first. (1) (6) (12)
Green tea for dogs: is it safe for my dog?
Green tea in small amounts is generally safe for dogs– and can even be beneficial to a dog's health – but it comes with a caveat: Matcha green tea and other varieties of green tea such as hojicha are technically considered safe for dogs and can be given in small doses. However, ingesting high concentrations is toxic to dogs when it is taken while fasting. (Ie no dog food within two hours)
The cause of concern? The caffeine content found in green teas. Some green teas — especially matcha — are higher in caffeine, so the amount that you give your dog and when is of paramount importance. (15)
What is a safe amount of matcha green tea to give my dog?
When it comes to green tea pet servings, we strongly recommend consulting with your veterinarian first before giving your dog more than a lick of your matcha green tea.
As far as a limit to avoid toxicity, it would be best if you were wary and hyper-aware of how much caffeine your dog is ingesting from your matcha green powder. In dogs, having up to 63mg of caffeine/lb is toxic, so for a safe dosage of matcha, we recommend no more than 1 gram of matcha mixed in with your dog's food or heavily diluted and steeped in cold water. (15)
The concern of regularly giving your dog matcha green tea stems from its caffeine levels. Matcha, like coffee, contains caffeine. Matcha green tea has around 35 milligrams of caffeine per gram, so if your dog weighs over 20 pounds, you can rest assured you can safely mix in a gram of matcha or a cup of prepared matcha into their food. (15)
The importance of feeding your dog when you give them green tea
When the topic of chronic toxicity of green tea in dogs was first studied in 2011, researchers found that green tea extra could be lethal to fasting dogs –they actually stopped the study early due to mortality rates among the beagles – but the researchers also discovered the clear and remarkable benefits of green tea for dogs when administered in lower doses and combined with food. (8)
In 2022, green tea is a popular ingredient in dog foods and is found in almost 10% of all ingredient lists. A significant component of matcha green tea being heavily studied is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which makes up over 50% of green tea extract. Researchers have found that a daily intake of up to 0.8 g of ECGC is safe for a 45-pound dog. (3) (8) (14)
According to PetMD, you often begin to see signs of agitation in dogs when they have more than 14 milligrams of caffeine per pound of body weight. So ideally, you want to be giving your animal a dose that is significantly lower than this if it is being used for preventative health.
What if I accidentally give my dog too much green tea?
Often, dogs show signs of caffeine toxicity within 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion. If you suspect you've maybe overdone it and that your dog may be suffering from signs of caffeine poisoning, keep a lookout for the following symptoms: (15)
- Gagging and vomiting
- High body temperature
- Hyperactivity and restlessness
- Abnormal and increased heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Trouble walking straight and collapsing
If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, you should not leave your dog alone and call your vet right away or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital.
How to prepare green tea for your dog
Are you looking for the best and safest way to give my dog green tea? As noted earlier, green tea is best taken with food and not during fasting. Therefore, the easiest option is often mixing green tea with your dog's food. (8)
So what is the best way to give your dog green tea? That depends on what health benefits you hope to reap, but generally, we like to take our used sencha tea leave bags and then use them to make tea for the dog.
Choose your tea: When we give our dog green tea, we prefer to use a loose leaf tea variety (of course, matcha works too!), as it is lower in caffeine. Of course, you can also steep your green tea like you usually would, but instead of tossing the used tea bag out, you can reuse it to make your dog green tea. Or if you have a little extra matcha leftover, that can be used too!
Combine with cold water: Take 1 liter of cold water and pour the used tea bag or tea into a large pitcher with the water. If you didn't make tea, you could also throw in 1 tablespoon of dry loose leaf green tea into the cold water.
Let steep for 15 minutes: Allow the tea to steep for fifteen minutes in the cold water (we prefer cold because it leads to less caffeine content), and voila: Once you have your dog's green tea prepared, it's easy to mix into your dog's meals and keep fresh for up to three days.
Different preparations based on size:
For smaller dogs, you can try adding ⅛ cup of your dog green tea twice daily with food. You can mix ½ of a cup twice daily with breakfast and dinner if you have a medium to a larger dog. If you have what we'd consider a miniature horse/XL-sized dog (perhaps a Rhodesian Ridgeback like Dr. Weil), you can mix up to 1 cup twice daily with your pup's food.
Taste considerations: We like to go with sencha green tea leaves, but many varieties can work. We have found that our dogs often enjoy fresher, less earthy teas such as hojicha, a roasted green tea, though we know every dog is different!
You can also try experimenting with adding matcha powder to a recipe for healthy dog treats or letting your dog have a couple licks of your teacup!
The Bottom line: Ask your veterinarian about adding green tea (in moderation) to your dog's food
Green tea's high concentration of antioxidants is good for both human and canine health -- and when it comes to dog health, combining the appropriate amount of green tea with your dog's food comes with a surprisingly long list of health benefits.
For example, suppose your dog is older, arthritic, has terrible breath, has a matted coat, and is overweight. In that case, you may consider introducing some matcha green tea powder or making diluted green tea from used sencha bags into their diets during meal times. However, if you have a young puppy that is only a few weeks old you want to supplement with green tea, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian.
The health benefits of green tea for dogs include:
- Fresher breath (if your dog has bad breath)
- Better gut health (if your dog has constipation or diarrhea issues)
- Maintaining a healthy weight (if your dog is overweight)
- Better behavior (if your dog is hyperactive)
- Stronger bones (if your dog is older/has osteoarthritis)
- Itch relief and improved skin health (if your dog constantly itches/has rashes)
- Combats inflammation (if your dog breed is prone to chronic illness)
- Cancer-fighting properties (if your dog has cancer)
- Less doggy dandruff (if your dog's skin is dry)
- A shinier fur coat (if your dog's coat is dull and matter)
- Stronger nails (if your dog's nails are cracking)
Remember that all dog breeds have unique needs, and every dog is different. In addition, though studies have been done on other canines, there are such huge differences from breed to breed. So before routinely giving your dog any supplement, including green tea, we recommend speaking with a trusted veterinarian or animal healthcare provider first.
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