If your dog ingested a bottle of pills or some toxic substance, you may be wondering how to to induce vomiting in dogs. There are several ways to induce vomiting in dogs, but not always are these methods safe. Some methods you may find over the Internet are downright wrong and risky, while some others may just make you waste time, when instead, time is of the essence.
It's always best to practice caution and give your vet or poison control a call (ASPCA's poison control number is 888-426-4435, a $65 consultation fee applies) if your dog ingested something and you're unsure whether inducing vomiting is good or not. Here's a general guide on the practice of inducing vomiting in dogs.
Important Safety Guidelines
It's important to follow some important safety guidelines before inducing vomiting in dogs. This is why it's important to check with your vet beforehand. For instance, some toxins are by far better if they remain in the dog's stomach rather than being brought back up. Imagine burning the dog's esophagus or causing severe injury to tissues by inducing vomiting when you shouldn't!
You want to therefore avoid inducing vomiting if your dog ingested a caustic substance such as bleach or drain cleaner, a leaking battery, a petroleum-based product such as gasoline, turpentine, kerosene, a sharp object or any product that states clearly do not induce vomiting on the bottle.
Also, you don't want to induce vomiting if your dog has already vomited, is showing symptoms of toxicity, is unconscious or close to unconscious, is having seizures or has labored breathing. Inducing vomiting in dogs with certain medical conditions (like mega-esophagus, laryngeal paralysis, a history of seizures, or dogs having a stomach tacked to prevent bloat ) can make things worse, warns certified veterinary technician Jo Marshall. You may also want to avoid inducing vomiting in brachycephalic dog breeds.
Time is also of the essence. In order to be successful, it's important to intervene in a timely manner. Consider that induction of vomiting proves to be of little benefit if 2 to 4 hours have elapsed due to stomach emptying, explains Dr. Amy Butler, a veterinarian specializing in emergency and critical care.
Hydrogen Peroxide (Safe Under Guidance of Vet)
This is the most common product dogs owners can use to induce vomiting in dogs at home. Hydrogen peroxide works by irritating the dog's stomach lining and therefore triggering vomiting. Given under the guidance of a vet, using hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in dogs can be overall a safe practice. However, its misuse can lead to some serious problems.
For instance, only 3 percent hydrogen peroxide should be used as stronger formulations can result in corrosion to the dog's digestive tract. Aspiration pneumonia is always a risk when administering fluids to dogs. The use of a small poultry baster placed between the dog's cheek and teeth can help prevent aspiration pneumonia.
In order to be effective, the bottle of peroxide must be unopened or fairly new as old hydrogen peroxide may lose its ability to foam and may not work. To make sure it's fresh, pour a bit on the sink and look for sizzling. Sizzling is a sign of freshness.
While hydrogen peroxide is effective in inducing vomiting, it's important to consider what to do if the first dosage isn't productive in making the dog vomit. In such a case, if no vomiting occurs within 15 to 20 minutes, then a second dosage of three percent hydrogen peroxide can be given, suggests veterinarian Dr. Bruce.
However, if that second dosage still doesn't work, it's important to see the vet as soon as possible. Firstly, to induce vomiting using a stronger vomiting medication (that only your vet carries) so to get rid of the toxin the dog ingested in the first place. Secondly, to get rid of the hydrogen peroxide on top of that. Timing is of the essence as past two hours it may no longer be possible to empty the dog's stomach contents as both the toxin and the hydrogen peroxide would have transited to the small intestine.
Also, an important consideration is the fact that if the dog is given too much hydrogen peroxide at once and the dog fails to vomit, there may be risks that the peroxide can cause stomach problems such as gastric ulcers. According to veterinarian Dr. Michael Salkin, ulcerative gastritis in this case can be prevented by giving the dog an antacid such as famotidine for dogs, better known as (Pepcid AC). Consult with your vet for directions.
"The appropriate dose of hydrogen peroxide is one teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. One teaspoon equals 5 cc or 5 ml. Once the hydrogen peroxide is given, walk your dog around or gently shake the stomach area to mix the peroxide with the stomach contents. Vomiting should occur within 15 to 20 minutes. If no vomiting occurs, you can safely repeat the three percent hydrogen peroxide once. "~Dr. Bruce, veterinarian.
Dr. Lee explains how to induce vomiting in dogs using hydrogen peroxide.
Apomorphine Hydrochloride (Overall Quite Safe and Effective)
When vomiting using hydrogen peroxide cannot be accomplished at home, the dog should see the vet as soon as possible. The vet will need to administer a stronger vomiting medication known as apomoprhine.
Apomorphine should do the trick of helping a dog get rid of the actual toxin and the previously ingested hydrogen peroxide on top of that, which is important. Too much hydrogen peroxide remaining in the dog's stomach that is not vomited back up can indeed lead to gastric ulceration, explains Dr. Michael Salkin.
Apomorphine is one of the most effective medicines to induce vomiting in dogs. It works quickly (generally causing vomiting within 18 minutes) by stimulating the dopamine receptors in the vomiting center of the brain. Sometimes though the vomiting may be long lasting, causing more vomiting than actually needed.
Sodium Chloride-Table Salt (Not Safe)
You may have heard about using common table salt to induce vomiting in dogs, however, this practice is no longer recommended. Yes, it's fine if the dog ends up vomiting, but if he doesn't then that can be a concern as the salt can cause problems, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona. And for those wondering, yes, there is such a thing as "salt poisoning."
The problem with salt is that excessive salt can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (hypernatremia) and consequently brain swelling which can lead to tremors and seizures. The risks in using salt are just too high to justify its use as an option for inducing vomiting, explains veterinarian Dr. Charlotte Flint who works at Pet Poison Helpline.
If you already gave your dog salt before reading this article, and your dog has not vomited, play it safe and consult with your vet. Signs of salt poisoning in dogs include lethargy, ataxia (walking like drunk), increased drinking and increased urination, shaking, seizures, coma and even death if the dosage was high.
" The use of salt to induce vomiting in dogs and cats is no longer the standard of care and is not recommended for use by pet owners or veterinarians!" ~Pet Poison Helpline
Syrup of Ipecac (Not Safe)
Syrup of ipecac works by irritating the dog's stomach and stimulating the central nervous system. Vomiting generally occurs within 10 to 30 minutes causing emptying of 40 to 60 percent of stomach contents. A while back, syrup of ipecac was recommended to induce vomiting in dogs, but its use, as in the case of table salt, is no longer considered as safe as other options.
The problem with syrup of ipecac is that it can be potentially cardiotoxic, which means toxic to the heart. This side effect is most likely to occur when given more than once and the ipecac is not productive in causing vomiting, explain Dr. Kate W. Roby and Dr. Lenny Southam in the book "The pill book guide to medication for your dog and cat." The risks of complications may be higher for dogs suffering from pre-existing heart conditions.
Dog owners must refrain from using ipecac fluid-extract because it's about 14 times more toxic to the heart than the syrup, warns veterinarian Dr. Jill A. Richardson. In the USA the extract may not longer be available.
Did you know? The use of syrup of ipecac is even no longer considered safe to use in children and adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics and The American Association of Poison Control Centers no longer recommend stocking ipecac syrup at home. According to the Journal J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2004 "Syrup of ipecac should not be administered routinely in the management of poisoned patients."
Mustard (Not Effective)
Giving dogs mustard has been sometimes listed as a method to induce vomiting in dogs. Mustard seed water has been used in the past, but it is no longer recommended. The main issue with mustard is that it would not be expected to be effective, explains veterinarian Dr. Drew.
Sticking Fingers Down Dog Throat (Not safe, Not Effective)
Many dog owners may feel tempted to just stick their fingers down Rover's throat but this is not safe nor effective. First of all, doing so can put you at a serious risk for a bite. No dog is likely to be collaborative and a bite may result whether intentional or not.
On top of that, consider that sticking fingers down a dog's throat to make him vomit is unlikely to be effective as in humans. The reason? A very good one. Dogs do not have a gag reflex like we do, so the practice is basically useless, explains veterinarian Dr. Altman.
As seen, there are several safe and non-safe ways to induce vomiting in dogs. It's therefore important to consult with your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661 a $59 charge applies) for proper guidance on what to do. It could be that your dog didn't ingest a toxic dose to warrant the need to induce vomiting, or it could be that, depending on what your dog ingested, it's not safe to do so. So play it safe and consult with the pros.
- Pet Poison Helpline: Five Pet Poisoning First Aid Misconceptions
- DVM360: Toxicology: the good, the bad, and the totally awesome (Proceedings)
- DVM360: Journal Scan: Apomorphine and 3% hydrogen peroxide—is one agent better for inducing emesis in dogs?
- DVM360: Toxicology: the good, the bad, and the totally awesome (Proceedings)
- DVM360: 7 effective emetics and how to use them
- Khan SA, McLean MK, Slater M, et al. Effectiveness and adverse effects of the use of apomorphine and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to induce emesis in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2012;241(9):1179-1184
- Position paper: Ipecac syrup. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2004;42(7):1000.
- Veterinary Information Network: ASPCA Tips to Manage a Poison Emergency