Being a responsible pet owner calls for a lot of time, effort, and commitment, and there are certain situations that call for emergency actions, such as when your dog ingests something they shouldn’t have eaten.
But there are good ways and bad ways of trying to make a dog vomit, and we’ll discuss all of them in today’s article.
Reasons to make a dog throw up
Not all things that you have around your home pose a health threat to your canine friend, so you might have to intervene only in certain situations. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of household items, substances, foods, and even plants that can pose a real risk to your dog’s well-being and, sometimes, even their life.
If your dog ingests one of the following things, you should get on the phone with your vet and ask them to assist you in making your pooch vomit as soon as possible:
- Any food containing xylitol or sorbitol
- Grapes or raisins
- Yeast dough
- Citrus fruits
- Body cleaning products like soap
- Any food containing garlic, onion, chives, or another member of this plant family
- Rat/mouse poison
- Snail bait
- Toxic plants (oleander, lily of the valley, autumn crocus, tulips, rhododendron, sago palms, cyclamen, and more)
- Household cleaning products
We actually recommend that you take some time to do a bit of research right after getting your dog for the first time. Besides puppy-proofing your home, you will need to ensure that none of the items that we have mentioned are at your dog’s disposal.
Your veterinarian might be able to provide you with a list of foods that are toxic to dogs if you ask them, but there are also plenty of online resources that you can use to get informed.
Before attempting to induce vomiting
Even if you are aware of some of the safe methods that we will describe below, we urge you to get in touch with your dog’s veterinarian before even trying to make them vomit.
Some toxic substances do call for action right away as they can be immediately absorbed into your dog’s system (such as chocolate, xylitol, or foods containing onion or garlic). Others aren’t as concerning, so your best bet might be to take your dog to the animal hospital right away rather than attempting to induce vomiting at home.
How make a dog throw up safely
One of the safest methods you can rely on involves the use of 3% hydrogen peroxide. You should never try to get whatever seems to have lodged in your dog’s throat or food that they might still have in their mouth using your bare hands.
Like people, dogs can get extremely anxious when they’re in such a situation, so they might react out of instinct and might bite as a result of that.
Food-grade 35% hydrogen peroxide is something that many people have in their homes, but this substance is extremely concentrated, so you should never use it. The 3% solution is available at most drugstores, and while it is safe to use for this purpose, even this low concentration can sometimes cause unpleasant adverse reactions.
The ideal dosage (as per the American Kennel Club’s recommendations) to make a dog vomit is 1 teaspoon (almost 5 milliliters) of 3% hydrogen peroxide for each 5 pounds of body weight.
If you do not have a syringe in your home, you can use a turkey baster for the same purpose. Inject the solution into your dog’s mouth either by trying to squirt it at the back of their mouth or by inserting it between their back teeth (lift up their lips on the side to do so).
You may have to immobilize your pet with the assistance of another person. Ingesting hydrogen peroxide is not pleasant at all, and your dog might become nauseous even as you tend to the task.
Using this method, your dog should vomit after 10 to 15 minutes have passed. If this does not happen, phone your veterinarian and ask them whether you are allowed to give them a second dose. Typically, the second dose should be lower just to be on the safe side of things, so you may need to give them 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight instead of 5.
Help your dog drink some water to ensure that their vomiting is easier. Walking your dog stimulates the movement of the hydrogen peroxide solution in their digestive tract, so they might throw up faster. If you can’t walk your dog, you can at least rub their belly.
Once your dog managed to throw up, keep an eye on their behavior for a couple of hours just to make sure that they don’t start experiencing adverse reactions such as the following:
- Persistent vomiting for more than an hour
Do keep in mind that if your vet advises you to bring the dog to the clinic because they think that it would be more useful to induce vomiting there, you should stick to their recommendations. There are plenty of injectable medications that veterinarians can use for this purpose, and that might not come with the side effects that hydrogen peroxide does.
A couple of years ago, the FDA announced that they approved a product for inducing vomiting in dogs, and that was considered safer than 3% hydrogen peroxide.
It is called Clevor, and it comes in the form of eye drops, so administering it is much easier for everyone involved. It does come with its own share of side effects, though, with the most common one being eye irritation.
When not to induce vomiting in dogs
We’ve tackled the situations where you might need to make your pooch throw up at the beginning of this article, but there are some cases where this is actually not recommended at all since it might do more harm than good.
If your dog ingested any solid or sharp object that might cause a lesion in their throat or in their mouth, take them to the animal hospital immediately instead of attempting to induce vomiting on your own.
Some chemicals can cause significant damage to your dog’s upper digestive tract when they vomit them, and one example is bleach.
If your dog has a significant history of seizures or has gone through an operation, particularly in their thoracic or abdominal area, making them vomit is also not a good idea as this can produce damage to their stitches, potentially calling for another surgery.
Generally, if your dog hasn’t been feeling their best for the past few days, attempting to induce vomiting at home can make their condition more severe, regardless of their diagnosis.
If your dog is also experiencing diarrhea, take them to the vet instead of trying to solve the problem on your own – they are already losing precious fluids through that end. The veterinarian might flush out your dog’s stomach if they have to, but they will also give your pet fluids through an IV – something that you can’t do at home.
Brachycephalic dog breeds call for special care because, in their case, inducing vomiting can be very risky as they can experience aspiration pneumonia, a condition where they accidentally breathe in whatever they have vomited – needless to say, any toxic substance that might end up in your dog’s lungs can cause havoc to their respiratory system and in some cases, even death.
Finally, if you realize that your pet ate something that they weren’t supposed to a couple of hours ago and they started feeling ill, take them to the animal hospital. If this much time went by, flushing out their stomach is probably not going to have any positive effect whatsoever, so your vet can administer the right substances at the clinic instead. Activated charcoal and other solutions can be used to neutralize the effect of some toxins.
What not to use to make your dog vomit
There are a lot of myths when it comes to the various household items that you might have at your disposal, and that might cause your dog to vomit, but some of them can actually be very dangerous. Corrosive chemicals are a good example – even if your dog might retch from the mere smell, that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily vomit after ingesting them, and they can significantly hurt their body.
Here are a few other things to avoid for inducing vomiting in dogs.
Even compared to 3% hydrogen peroxide, Ipecac syrup comes with many more side effects. Although it is still being used by people on occasion, this medication has been found to have long-lasting negative effects on cardiac health.
Moreover, the type of vomiting and nausea that it causes is so intense that your dog might end up throwing up or attempting to do so for hours on end if you decide to use Ipecac.
Your bare hands
We mentioned before that digital stimulation is not an option when it comes to making your pet throw up, and this is because you have no way of knowing how they are going to react.
Do consider that some dogs might not even want to bite their owners as they trust them, but their gagging reflexes and the discomfort they are experiencing may make them sharply close their mouths and catch your fingers between their teeth.
If you don’t want to end up both at the animal hospital and in the emergency room, you should avoid using your hands for this procedure.
While it is true that alcohol can sometimes make a dog vomit, it’s really not safe at all for this species. Alcohol poisoning has been reported in some dogs in the past, and it comes with a plethora of unpleasant symptoms, such as the following:
In a similar manner, dogs can develop baking soda toxicity after just eating baked goods, which can give you a clue as to how much harm a baking soda solution that you use for inducing vomiting might produce.
Some clinical signs that your dog might experience, besides not being able to fully vomit whatever they may have ingested, are depression, tremors, disorientation, shortness of breath, as well as diarrhea.
If you’ve been caring for a dog for a while now, you probably know that giving them table scraps is never a good idea because they contain too high quantities of salt.
Salt is bad for most pets, especially in excessive amounts, as it can lead to serious negative effects on their cardiovascular system. In fact, approximately half of the dogs that are diagnosed with sodium toxicity can die, despite whatever treatment methods might be applied.
Mustard or mustard powder
While it is true that due to their glucosinolates content, mustard seeds can indeed cause vomiting, it’s also true that these substances are toxic to dogs, which means that they can lead to various other unpleasant digestive consequences, mainly gastroenteritis.
How to care for a dog after you made them throw up
If you do manage to induce vomiting at home and your dog seems to behave somewhat normally, you should put your pet on a bland diet for a couple of days.
Making sure that your canine friend gets to drink enough water is of utmost importance because repetitive vomiting can cause dehydration, which can lead to other health complications.
Strained soups, bone broths, and simple foods like unseasoned boiled chicken or boiled rice can be given to a dog that has vomited, at least for a few days, until they get back on track.
Giving your dog small portions of food throughout the day is always better than serving them one large meal only. Some breeds are predisposed to gastric dilatation-volvulus, which can be life-threatening.
Even if you think that your dog might be able to vomit by themselves after eating a large meal or drinking a lot of water, they might not be able to do so because their stomach might rotate around its own axis and they might lose their life in a couple of hours.
When it comes to making your pup throw up, even if you have been a dog owner for many years and have had many pets before, you should always refer to your vet’s advice.
If they are not available, you can at least ask a vet nurse at the same clinic to stay with you on the phone and guide you through the process or tell you whether you should instead take your pooch to the animal hospital.
You might sometimes not have the right things in your home at your disposal, so getting veterinary assistance should always be a priority in this case.
Ethanol Toxicosis: A Review, Tina Wismer, Today’s Veterinary Practice, 2017, https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/toxicology/practical-toxicologyethanol-toxicosis-review
Indoor Companion Animal Poisoning by Plants in Europe, Alessia Bertero et al, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7427442/
Ropinirole eye drops induce vomiting effectively in dogs: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, Minna Suokko et al, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7063390/
Effectiveness and adverse effects of the use of apomorphine and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to induce emesis in dogs, Safdar A. Khan et al, 2012, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23078563/