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.
- 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!
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!