As a part of National Pet Wellness Month, it seemed a good time to revisit the issue of vomiting. A dog vomits more easily than nearly any other creature. So why in the world would a pet parent want to make pets vomit? When dogs or cats eat the wrong thing that could cause harm, you can save your pets’ lives by inducing vomiting.
Pets vomit for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s because of illness, while other times the dog vomiting or cat hairball upchuck is more innocuous. Some pets eat grass to induce vomiting, or they get into dangerous candy that makes them sick. However, sometimes making pets vomit means life or death. That means you need to know how to make pets vomit.
With a new puppy in the house, we had to be better about puppy proofing. Shadow-Pup likes to play with cat toys–but they’re so small, they present a choking risk for big dogs like Bravo. When dogs swallow the wrong object, getting rid of it prevents more dangerous risks. Here’s how to make dogs vomit.
Why You Should Make Pets Vomit
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 deodorant, 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, sometimes you need first aid immediately to reduce potential problems or even death.
When Should You NOT Make Pets Vomit
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.
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 surgical removal.
But for many toxic substances and non-sharp foreign objects, making them vomit can save pets’ lives. You can find more first aid help in my book, THE FIRST AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS, with advice from 70+ veterinarian ER specialists.
Veterinarians will tell you to call them first. In a perfect world, that’s exactly what you SHOULD do. There are times, though, when a veterinarian isn’t available and first aid is just that–FIRST aid, that saves the life of the pet until you can get professional help. Here’s what to do in those instances.
HOW TO MAKE PETS VOMIT
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.
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.
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.
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. DO NOT give to cats.
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!
This month, we celebrate Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month. Here in Texas, many folks spend this time of year preparing for spring gardens. Two years ago, we dug out old roses (many infected with rose rosetta disease, arg!), and continue to plant new ones, along with other perennials. My jonquils, and other bulb plants now poke shy heads above the mulch, ready for a burst of color.
Shadow-Pup helped! And Karma-Kat will enjoy any cut flowers I bring in later. That’s why I’m so careful about exactly what we plant, and the kinds brought inside for our own and pet enjoyment. I had some lovely patio container plants last fall, and wanted to bring them inside for the winter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t risk plants toxic to pets.
Flowers are gorgeous, and dogs may enjoy them, too–as long as they’re non-toxic!
Poison pet plants can kill cats and dogs any time of year, but spring can be particularly dangerous when new plants pose dangers. While dogs munch, cats more often play and claw plants, and ingest poison when they clean themselves. Check out this post for more about top pet toxins.
This is a great idea for all public gardens, and perhaps your own. Dogs often enjoy digging in gardens, a problem even if plants are safe.
Poison Pet Plants & What to Do
I received an email from ProFlowers.com a couple of years ago with this great infographic to share. Refer to this helpful poison chart (below) to avoid toxic plants all year long.
Of course, my advice is to keep toxic plants out of the house entirely when you have pets (or toddlers!) eager to taste-test everything. Accidents do happen, though, so this is a handy guide to bookmark (and share!) with other pet parents.
Meanwhile, why not keep an emergency kit on hand? My go-to is the First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats not only for poisons but for everything from torn nails to (gasp!) gunshots or snakebite. It’s a good time to “gift” the pet people in your life, too…although my wish for you and your pets is that you’ll NEVER need the emergency advice!
Have your pets ever “snacked” on something toxic? Do tell! What happened? what did you do…and what would you advise others based on your experience?
Cat and Dog together holding blank cardboard sign to enter your message onto
There’s a major disconnect for me today. While much of the East is dealing with a major blizzard, the past week in N. Texas boasted 60s or even 70-degree sunny days. But that’s predicted to change later today. Deja vu, because this time last year, a similar cold front shut down the whole area for more than a week. But what does that have to do with carbon monoxide danger? It affects you, and your pets, especially during cold weather when we try to keep pets warm.
CARBON MONOXIDE, THE INVISIBLE POISON!
I hope y’all have taken safety steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning–yep, it affects pets, too. Last week, our alarm system gas detector went off–WOOOOP-WOOOOP-WOOOOOP! The pets hated that, and it scared the whey out of me, too. It turns out our detectors were outdated, there was no leak by the water heaters (whew!), and once they were replaced we felt safe again.
You can get carbon monoxide detectors at local home products stores, like this First Alert detector with over 25,000 reviews. But many years ago, my brother’s pet bird, Gumby, saved the family’s life when symptoms alerted them to the danger. When Gumby began falling off his perch, they knew birdy fainting spells were not normal and sought veterinary help. The diagnosis was carbon monoxide poisoning, traced to a malfunctioning heater that could have put the whole family to sleep—permanently.
WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. It’s a natural by-product of fuel combustion present in car exhaust and improperly vented furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, fireplaces, and tobacco smoke. It can quickly kill people as well as their pets. Children and pets have died in as little as 15 minutes inside running cars while parents shoveled snow outside the vehicle, unaware of the blocked tailpipe.
The gas causes the same symptoms in dogs and cats as in their owners. However, carbon monoxide is lighter than air, so pets that live at human knee level may not show symptoms as quickly as their owners. Birds are particularly susceptible and like Gumby, may be the first to show signs.
An improperly vented fireplace can cause carbon monoxide poisoning affecting you, and your best friends. Magic and Karma loved hanging out together!
HOW CARBON MONOXIDE POISONS
Here’s what happens. When inhaled, the lungs absorb carbon monoxide, and it spills into the bloodstream. There it binds with hemoglobin, the oxygen-transporting component of blood. This blocks the hemoglobin from using or carrying oxygen at all, which affects all areas of the body including the brain. The gas creates a kind of chemical suffocation.
The most common symptom of human carbon monoxide poisoning (low doses) in otherwise healthy people is fatigue that clears up when you leave the house. In heart patients, it can cause chest pains. Higher concentrations cause headache, confusion and disorientation, and flu-like symptoms with vomiting. Ultimately, the poison victim falls into a coma. When the victim is asleep during exposure to the poison, the dog, cat, bird or the person may never wake up.
We don’t know if poisoned pets suffer headaches because they can’t tell us about this early sign. But they do act confused, lethargic, and drunk in the same way as human victims. A distinctive sign common to both people and pets are bright cherry-red gums in the mouth.
HOW TO CURE CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
The body can only get rid of the poison bound to the hemoglobin by breathing it out, or by replacing the poisoned hemoglobin with new. The liver and spleen replace hemoglobin about every ten to fifteen days. When only a small amount of the blood is affected, the victim recovers without treatment as long as no more poison is inhaled.
But high levels of blood saturation will kill the person or pet unless emergency treatment is given. Twenty-five percent saturation level is considered dangerous for people. Usually, though, both people and pets should be treated when the carbon monoxide saturation level is ten percent or higher. Smokers will be more susceptible because they already have an elevated level of carbon monoxide in their bloodstream. In other words, if one family member smokes, he or she may suffer symptoms sooner than other non-smoking family members.
Administering high concentrations of oxygen is the treatment of choice. That increases the amount of gas that is breathed out. Many hours of oxygen therapy may be required. In some cases, ventilation may be necessary.
PREVENTING CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING!
To protect yourself and your pets from carbon monoxide poisoning, get your heating units inspected every year before you start using them. Carbon monoxide detectors are also available to be installed as a warning system.
If you notice any change in your pet’s behavior or your own health that coincides with cold weather or the furnace coming on, don’t automatically assume it’s the flu. Consult with medical specialists for both your pets and for yourself.
Are your pets safe from appliances? Stoves and ovens, dishwashers, clothes dryers, garbage disposals and other appliances are convenient for us but can prove deadly to cats and dogs. While the photos in today’s blog make us smile, the “what if” makes me shiver, because I know they represent tragedy waiting to happen.
Bravo-Dawg does his best to “pre-wash” the dishes, like the puppy in the picture, below. But any small pet could potentially climb inside when you’re distracted. And that could be lethal.
FOOD & SMELL. Do you give your pets the chance at a “first rinse” before putting dirty dishes in the washer? (raising hand…GUILTY). Just licking off or pawing food-smeared utensils can cut tongues or paws. A tiny pup or kitty could crawl inside after yummies, and be seriously injured or die when the machine turns on.
HEIGHT. Do your cats countertop cruise? A couple of things draw the kitty to scale the heights. Available food, yummy smells, and a GREAT perch lookout.
WARMTH. Stoves, ovens, and clothes dryers draw cats, especially to the warmth. Yep, it can make for some LOL Funny Cat moments, but not if the cat or dog ends up with burned feet or worse.
HIDEY-HOLES. Pets seem drawn to small enclosed spaces for naps or ambushes. Paw-poking into holes is a cat rule, while dogs enjoy nosing into tight spots as well.
Sprout apparently hasn’t had enough coffee! Image Copr Kim Smith/Flickr Commons
Funny–NOT Funny! Keep Pets Safe From Appliances
When I edited one of the stories in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul, it made me turn green–and we had to preface the story with the note that “it’s a happy ending!” or folks likely wouldn’t have wanted to read it. The cat in that story went head-first into the garbage disposal after fishy leavings and got his head stuck. They had to remove the entire sink and take it to the vet clinic for the cat to be sedated, oiled up, and extricated. Funny story when it’s a happy ending. I’ve caught Karma-Kat sticking his paw down into the garbage disposal, too, yikes!
Sadly, not all funny stories end so well.
As far as I know, Audley’s adventure in the tumble dryer turned out fine. Image Copr. RaGeBe/Flickr
Cats And Dryers
My friend Mary McCauley sent me a message last week that broke my heart. This post is for Mary and her kitty friend, Boo:
“Amy, a few weeks ago our beautiful young cat had climbed into the dryer. My son turned it on. I heard a loud thumping and thought the washing machine was out of balance. I found Boo in the dryer. Blood was coming out of her mouth. She was convulsing. I ran up the stairs to get my keys, but she died in my arm. I tried rescue breathing and cardiac resuscitation with two fingers, but she was gone. I cried for two days. Please warn your readers about this danger. My son felt so guilty for a few weeks.”
Accidents happen, and our pets can get into trouble in the flick of a whisker. Cats are furry heat-seeking missiles and I have no doubt that Karma-Kat would do the same thing, given the opportunity. Even Bravo loves to dive into the pile of fresh-from-the-dryer clean clothes dumped onto my bed for folding. A ride inside the dryer could cause not only head and body injuries but also heatstroke.
Pets In Freezers? Oh no!
A day after I got Mary’s message, my husband called me into the kitchen to shoot this photo (below) of Karma-Kat. He’s a door dasher and often sprints into the pantry to gnaw through the dog food container–but the frig fail was new.
Karma is big enough, the chance of shutting him inside the frig is small–but it could happen. Left overnight in the refrigerator–or worse, inside the freezer!–could quickly result in hypothermia and death. I’m just hoping he doesn’t learn to open the frig himself. I know of one owner who resorted to a bungee cord around the frig to keep her cats out of the goodies.
Pet Proofing Appliances
So what’s a responsible pet parent to do? Pet proofing your home is job one, especially when you have a clueless puppy or kitten. But it doesn’t stop when the cat or dog grows up. Pets are endlessly curious and always find new ways to get into trouble and push our buttons. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your pets safe around modern conveniences.
Baby gates keep pets away from danger zones. I lock the fur-kids out of the kitchen when cooking and clearing up, to prevent paw burns on stovetops or me spilling something hot on them when they wind around my feet.
Double-check washing machines and clothes dryers before hitting the “start” button. If your pet is inside, don’t pull them out immediately. Instead, BANG-BANG-BANG on the top to make a horrendous scary racket and watch them rocket out. Most pets won’t get near that scary thing ever again.
If you have hard-case pets, make a sign to stick on doors of appliances to remind kids, spouses, and guests to CHECK FOR CAT. That’ll be a fun conversation starter, too. 🙂
Invest in stovetop covers to protect kitty feet. One of the best ways to keep pets from cruising counters and stoves is to give them a cat tree that’s higher than the counters. Make the stovetop uncomfortable by spreading aluminum foil across the top, for instance.
Have you ever caught your dog or cat up close and personal with one of your appliances? How did you handle the situation, and prevent future problems? Do tell!
And please–if you love your cats and dogs as much as Mary loved Boo–share this warning far and wide and tell folks it’s in memory of a special Boo-kitty.
Did you know that April is First Aid Awareness Month? You can save your dog or cat’s life by knowing how to do pet CPR and how to perform rescue breathing. Pets suffer brain injury and death if oxygen is cut off for only a few minutes. When minutes count, rescue breathing can save your pet’s life.
How To Perform Pet Rescue Breathing
First check to be sure nothing blocks the airway before you begin. Cradle small cats, puppies and dogs in your lap, but lay a large dog on the floor on his side. Straighten his neck by lifting his chin. The airway must be a straight shot into the lungs to ensure your breath is not blocked.
Muzzles won’t seal well enough for mouth-to-mouth breathing to work. Instead, hold his mouth closed with one or both hands to seal his lips. Then place your mouth entirely over his nose. Your mouth will cover both the mouth and nose of most small pets, and for large dogs may simply cover his nose.
Blow two quick breaths just hard enough to move his sides, and watch to see if his chest expands. Blowing into his nose directs air to the lungs when the lips are properly sealed. For small pets, think of blowing up a paper bag—gently does it!—or you could over-inflate and damage the lungs. However, you’ll need to blow pretty hard to expand the lungs of larger dogs.
Between breaths, pull your mouth away to let the air naturally escape before giving another breath. Continue rescue breathing at a rate of about 30 breaths per minute (one every two seconds), and check for a pulse. If there’s no pulse, perform CPR.
How to Give Pet CPR
Pets CPR combines rescue breathing with external heart compressions and stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The compressions help the blood move through the body even though the heart has stopped. To perform CPR on your puppy, alternate rescue breathing with chest compressions, giving one breath for every five compressions for any size puppy. It’s most effective to have one person handle the breathing while a second person performs the compressions. Continue CPR until you reach the veterinary clinic or your pet revives, whichever comes first.
Determine your puppy’s heart has stopped by listening with your ear flat to her side directly behind the left elbow, or feel the place with the flat of your hand. If you still can’t tell for sure, use the blink test. Tap her closed eyelid. Even unconscious pups will blink unless the heart has stopped, so if there’s no movement, start CPR immediately.
For Pets Under 15 Pounds
The size of the pet and his body conformation rules how you administer CPR. For cats and dogs under 15 pounds, perform the cardiac pump technique with compressions over the heart. That squeezes the motionless heart so that it pumps blood. Veterinarians recommend 100 to 120 compressions each minute, of 1/3rd to 1/2 of the chest width. It’s also highly recommended to perform CPR in 2-minute cycles, and switch who does the compressor in each cycle, so you don’t wear yourself out.
Find the heart by flexing your pet’s front foreleg backwards. The center of the heart falls directly beneath where the point of the elbow crosses her chest.
Situate your pet on her right side on a flat, firm surface. Cup your hand over the heart, and squeeze firmly. Press in about ½ inch with your thumb on one side and fingers on the other.
For very small pets that fit in the palm of your hand, perform compressions between your fingers. Cradle her in the palm of your hand, with your thumb over the heart and fingers on the other side, and squeeze rhythmically.
For Pets Over 20 Pounds
Once the pet weighs more than 20 pounds, the space between the strong ribs and heart interferes with successful compressions. So instead, use the thoracic pump method. When she’s on her side, place your hands over the highest part of the chest and compress. That changes the chest cavity interior pressure, which can move blood forward. Place one hand flat on her chest, and the other over top of the first hand, and press down 30 to 50 percent.
Place barrel chested dogs and those with pushed-in faces like Bulldogs on their back before compressing the chest. Cross her paws over the breast and kneel with her between your legs—tummy up. Hold her paws and perform compressions downward directly over the breastbone.
Needling For Life
When the pet’s breathing and heart has stopped and resuscitation methods have failed, veterinarians suggest stimulating an acupuncture “alarm point.” That prompts the body to release natural adrenaline (epinephrine), a drug commonly used in human and veterinary medicine in cardiac arrests to stimulate the heart and breathing.
The alarm point is in the center (midway point) of the slit found between your puppy’s nose and upper lip. Stick a needle, safety pin, paperclip, or even your clean fingernail into this point. Jab deeply to the bone, and repeatedly wiggle back and forth.
Don’t be squeamish—this is your puppy’s life you hold in your hands! Continue administering the emergency acupuncture treatment for at least twenty minutes, until the pet revives or you reach the hospital.
Puppies and kittens dead at birth treated with this method have been revived more than an hour later, and survived to live long, healthy lives. A needle jab, with rescue breathing, can ensure your puppy survives.