How to Make Pets Vomit

Chihuahua sitting, yawning, isolated on white

Most often we think of cat or dog vomiting as a bad, scary thing, but learning how to make your pet vomit could actually save his life. I’ve written about this before, but lately, I’ve had a number of messages from frantic pet owners along the lines of:

“HOLY SHITAKE! My dog just ate (raisins, Old Spice deoderant, chocolate, extension cord…) what do I do?”

Of course, a vet visit is needed but pets seem to “indulge” in these activities after the clinic has closed. And frankly, in some cases you need first aid immediately to reduce potential problems or even death.

There are cases where you should NOT make your pet vomit. Sharp objects need a vet’s attention immediately, and solutions like laundry detergent and drain cleaners, or petroleum products can burn coming back up just as much as going down. And it can become a choking danger with some poisons that cause swelling of the throat. Also, the stomach typically empties into the intestines in about 2 hours, and after that, vomiting won’t help.

man in white shirt holding a cat breed Don Sphynx on his hands. isolated on white. close-up

Small foreign objects may pass within 24-72 hours, and you need to examine the stool to be sure everything comes out all right. *ahem* With swallowed coins, though, do NOT wait for them to pass. The metal made to create coins, once hit with digestive juices, can cause copper or zinc toxicity–these items need to be surgically removed.

But for many toxic substances and non-sharp foreign objects, making them vomit can save pets’ lives. Here’s what to do.

HOW TO MAKE PETS VOMIT

  1. Give him a meal. That dilute poison, delays its absorption, and for solid objects, may increase digestive juices to get rid of rough edges, or simply pad the object. It’s also harder to induce vomiting when the pet’s stomach is too empty.
  2. Give 3% hydrogen peroxide with an eyedropper, syringe without a needle or even a squirt gun or turkey baster. It tastes nasty and foams, and that combination usually prompts vomiting in about five minutes. You can repeat this dose two or three times, with five minutes between doses.
  3. You’d think cats would be easy to induce vomiting (they “whoops” regularly with hairballs, after all) but they can be tough. Don’t wait for kitties if they don’t empty their tummy after one dose. Get them help.
  4. Syrup of Ipecac is effective for dogs. Ipecac takes longer to work than hydrogen peroxide, though, and the dose should only be given once. Give one teaspoon for dogs less than 35 pounds, and up to a tablespoon for larger dogs.
  5. When nothing else is handy, you can try giving table salt prompts dry, onto the back of the dog’s tongue. Only give one teaspoonful at a time for little pups or a tablespoonful for adults. Repeat in three minutes if the first dose doesn’t work.
  6. Call the veterinarian for further instructions after the pet has emptied his stomach. If you can’t induce vomiting after a couple of tries, prompt veterinary care is even more important. In cases of suspected poison, take a sample of the vomit with you to the veterinarian to analyze and offer an antidote or other follow-up measures.

Has your dog or cat ever eaten something they shouldn’t? What was it? And what happened? How did you prevent a repeat of the episode? Do tell!

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Comments

How to Make Pets Vomit — 7 Comments

  1. My Katie is the queen of wanting to eat things she shouldn’t. A 3′ piece of skinny pink ribbon when she was just 2 years old resulted in emergency surgery. Very traumatic, very scary and very expensive. I have to be diligent about keeping small enticing objects tucked safely away. Fortunately I’m very close to 24 hour emergency care, but knowing how to quickly induce vomiting is SO helpful. thank you!

  2. Always have to think whether it’s going to cause more damage when coming back up. Once we had to make Cookie throw up when she found outside and ate something which might have been a brownie. While talking to a vet about the amount of chocolate for Cookie’s size she just springs the question if I’m sure it was not a pot brownie. Ugh. I wasn’t sure enough … Cookie did not enjoy that.

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