How to Induce Vomiting in Dogs
If you’re reading this article because you’re currently having an emergency with your dog, please call your vet immediately. If it’s after hours, try calling Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 or your local emergency veterinary facility.
No dog owner wants to be put in the situation of having to make their pet vomit ― but sometimes our adventurous best friends get themselves into something they shouldn’t. During these emergencies, knowing when and how to safely induce vomiting in your dog may just be the key to saving their life.
When NOT to induce vomiting
If your dog ingests a harmful substance or object, whether it be a toxic food or plant, household chemical, medication or a foreign object ― getting it out of their stomach as quickly as possible may seem like the right thing to do.
However, this isn’t always the case. Never induce vomiting at home:
- If your dog has swallowed a sharp object or a corrosive substance (battery, bleach & other cleaners) ― these may end up doing more harm on the way back up.
- If your dog is experiencing seizures or trouble breathing, acts lethargic or unresponsive or has other serious medical conditions.
- If you have a flat-faced breed (brachycephalic breed), like a pug or boxer. These breeds are prone to respiratory issues ― inducing vomiting can lead to concerns of asphyxiation or lung infection.
- If it’s been hours since the suspect ingestion.
- Without first consulting a medical professional.
Call your vet first
If your dog consumes something potentially dangerous, the first thing to do is call a veterinarian.
Your vet will assess the type of swallowed hazard, associated risks and your dog’s current health status ― then recommend what to do.
If it’s after hours, look for a local 24/7 veterinarian emergency hospital in your area or call a pet poison helpline ― like the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435.
Going to the vet
In many cases your vet may recommend an immediate visit.
Under veterinary care, vomiting can be safely induced and other medical procedures can be safely undertaken to rehabilitate your dog.
If making your dog throw up is the correct course of action, your vet will likely select a highly effective drug known as apomorphine to do the job ― which they’ll administer via eye drops or injection.
Inducing vomiting at home
In certain scenarios, you may not be able to make it to the vet in time, or an in-home solution may be more appropriate. Either way, the vet will instruct your next steps. Here are some common options.
3% Hydrogen Peroxide
Vets will often recommend you use hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to make your dog vomit at home.
It’s cheap, efficient, and accessible ― most people already have it in their medicine cabinet. Just be sure not to mix it up with other antiseptics in your first aid kit, and double-check that it’s 3% hydrogen peroxide. Stronger concentrations could leave your dog feeling even worse.
The commonly advised dose is 1 - 2 teaspoons per every 10 lbs of 3% hydrogen peroxide given orally ― but no more than 9 teaspoons (or 3 tablespoons). However, if your vet suggests an alternate dose, follow their guidance.
Spoon-feeding your dog hydrogen peroxide may not be the easiest task. If you’ve got a food-grade syringe or pipette, that should make it easier, but go slow. You don’t want them to inhale it. Your vet may also recommend mixing it into a bland meal, or soaking it into a piece of bread for ease of administration (if your dog still feels like snacking).
Your dog should vomit within about 15 minutes. Walking them around (if safe) may help get the hydrogen peroxide bubbling in their tummy. If they don’t vomit right away, your vet may permit a repeated dose.
(Not widely used in the United States)
Vets may also recommend sodium carbonate (CHNaO3), also known as washing soda or soda crystals, to induce vomiting in your dog. This is more common in other countries. Not to be confused with sodium bicarbonate (Na2CO3 - baking soda), or sodium hydroxide (NaOH - caustic soda).
This is cheap and easy to find, but mainly in Australia and the UK. So if you have a well-traveled dog, you may have encountered it there. It’s available in the States but we’re not suggesting every dog owner go cause a rush on this product, as many vets may be unfamiliar.. If you are instructed to use it, just be sure to use only pure sodium carbonate and avoid the powdered detergents and cleaners that simply contain it.
It doesn’t take much. A few crystals, or the smallest pinch, is likely to do the trick. Be sure to follow the recommendation of your vet extra closely.
Sodium carbonate will dissolve in your dog's mouth, so just get it on their tongue and hold their snout closed for a minute.
If your dog doesn’t vomit in 10-15 minutes, it’s probably best you find a way to bring them into your vet. Most vets won’t often recommend a second dose.
All methods of inducing vomiting come with discomfort and a few safety risks, but remember in these emergency situations, the importance of getting your dog to vomit outweighs the most of those risks.
Possible side effects could include ulcers or damaged stomach lining, respiratory stress, bloating and gas, confusion and weakness, diarrhea, or continued nausea and vomiting (lasting more than 45 minutes). The reason many vets have turned to drugs like apomorphine is because they are thought to do less damage to the stomach and be more reliable although studies of peroxide and apomorphine have shown similar rates of vomiting and side effects.
Keep a close eye on your dog for any adverse reactions, and once they do vomit, make sure they don’t eat it. We all know dogs aren’t that choosy and you don’t want to undo all the work you did to get them to vomit.
After all is said and done, be sure to schedule a follow-up visit to your vet for the near future, and give your pup some extra love. You both deserve it.