I did an Internet search on “how to make a dog vomit” and the results were shocking! You truly can find anything on the Internet. The scary part of this Internet adventure is the advice I found could poison your pet! The act of making your pet vomit at home (aka inducing vomiting or inducing emesis) is not advised except under extreme circumstances AND it should always be under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. In other words, you should immediately call your family veterinarian for advice. You could also call a veterinary poison control center for guidance.
Why shouldn’t you make your dog vomit at home? It’s possible that the substance or amount eaten wasn’t even toxic, so inducing vomiting is not necessary. In addition, forcing your dog to vomit could result in even worse consequences. This is especially true if your dog ate something sharp or caustic (i.e. acids, alkalis, and detergents). By the end of this article, we hope you’ll understand why in-clinic emesis (vomiting) is preferred by AERC.
First off, most pet owners know that hydrogen peroxide (H202) is often used to make dogs vomit. What many pet owners don’t know is how H202 actually makes a dog vomit. After it is swallowed, H202 bubbles and causes irritation of the stomach lining, triggering vomiting. The end result is an irritated stomach and esophagus (tube from the mouth to the stomach). The irritation can cause significant ulcers, nausea, and pain. Another issue with inducing vomiting at home is that pet owners can accidentally administer H202 into the lungs. Or the bubbling action can result in H202 getting into the lungs, causing pneumonia. With all the potential problems it can cause, it’s easy to see why H202 isn’t the preferred method to induce vomiting.
Here are a few more reasons why AERC highly discourages pet owners from trying any method to induce vomiting at home:
- Your dog could bite you.
- Not all peroxides are created equally. There’s over-the-counter H202 (3% solution), but there are also strong concentrated products (6% or higher) that can cause severe stomach ulceration.
- Isopropyl alcohol, which people often confuse with hydrogen peroxide, can cause alcohol poisoning and acidic blood.
- Some people want to administer table salt to make their dog vomit “naturally.” Table salt can lead to salt toxicity by causing severely high sodium levels in the body. Abnormally high sodium levels can cause severe body and brain dehydration. This must be corrected carefully to prevent brain swelling.
- Syrup of ipecac, often used to induce vomiting in people, can cause severe vomiting, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and abnormal heart rhythms in dogs.
- There are more health risks if a pet is also lethargic, already vomiting, acting unusual in any way, or has a pre-existing health condition.
- Brachycephalic dog breeds (dogs with pushed-in noses) like pugs, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, etc… are at higher risk of aspiration pneumonia from emesis induction.
So what do veterinarians do to induce vomiting? There are a variety of methods used to make dogs vomit in the veterinary clinic or hospital. At AERC, we use an intravenous injection called apomorphine. Sometimes a second dose is necessary, but apomorphine usually produces vomiting within two to five minutes of injection. The drug triggers nausea in the brain but does not irritate the stomach lining.
Apomorphine is not given until after we take the pet’s vital signs, weigh the pet, and perform a physical exam. This information lets the veterinarian know if emesis is safe. Side effects of apomorphine are minimal, but can include short-term sedation or continuous vomiting that requires an anti-vomiting medication.
You’ll notice this article doesn’t mention at-home emesis for cats. That’s because there are no safe methods to make your cat vomit at home! In fact, there are very few medications that even veterinarians can administer to cats to induce emesis.
If you suspect that your pet ate something poisonous or dangerous, please don’t follow instructions from @joeschmoe in that pet questions forum! Step away from Google and contact your family veterinarian or local animal hospital immediately. Let the professionals decide the safest course of action. In some circumstances, the veterinarian may direct you to call ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.