Dog First Aid: When and how to help your dog throw up

  • by DR Roxanne Jones
Dog First Aid: When and how to help your dog throw up

Here’s to a rodent and poison-free home!Sometimes, pets ingest dangerous toxins that can make them severely ill. If you witness them doing this, it creates an extreme situation in which it may be necessary to help your dog expel the contents of their stomach as quickly as possible.

For this to be effective, you must do it within an hour or two of the accidental poisoning, otherwise some of the poison will already have begun to be absorbed into your pet’s body. It’s highly recommended that you get your pet to the vet immediately, as your vet will know how to easily and safely help your dog expel the poison.

What to expect once your pet arrives at the vet

To induce vomiting, your vet will administer medication to your pooch – most often a powder sprinkled into the eyes – which will induce vomiting rapidly and safely. Your vet will then examine your pet to determine whether s/he is showing symptoms of the poison having been absorbed into the bloodstream, and if so, will begin any necessary treatment.

What if I don’t have enough time to get to the vet?

In the rare and extreme case that you are absolutely unable to get your pet to the vet and you are running out of time , you can help your dog to throw up at home.

Please note that this should only be tried if it is impossible to get to the vet quickly, and you should follow up with a vet visit as soon as you can.

It’s best to phone your vet or poison control centre first to ensure that making your furbaby vomit is the right thing to do. Certain poisons should not be vomited up as they could cause more harm to your pet when they’re expelled.

When to help your dog throw up at home

  • You’ve confirmed with your vet that it’s the best course of action
  • Your dog has consumed rat poison
  • Your dog has eaten large amounts of raisins or grapes
  • You witnessed your dog consuming toxic items but s/he isn’t showing any other signs of being poisoned, and is otherwise perfectly healthy

If you’re successful in making your dog vomit at home, you should still take him or her to the vet as soon as possible. Sometimes, not all the poison will be expelled, or treatment will be needed anyway because of the type of toxin ingested.

In other words, successfully making your dog vomit at home only buys you more time to get to the vet; it doesn’t replace a vet visit.

How to make your dog vomit at home

NB: This should never be done with cats

You must have hydrogen peroxide 3% at home. This is the only method that is safe and effective. Other methods (i.e: those you find on the internet) can be dangerous or ineffective, and must be avoided.

  1. Phone your vet and confirm that this is the right course of action
  2. Get your hydrogen peroxide 3% ready
  3. Weigh your pet accurately
  4. Measure out 0.25ml to 0.5ml of hydrogen peroxide per kilogram of weight, and give it to your dog in a single dose (i.e: a 10kg dog would be given a single dose of 2.5ml of hydrogen peroxide. Ideally, measure it into a syringe to confirm accuracy, or use a 5ml teaspoon or 15ml tablespoon). for example a 10kg x 0.25ml = 2.5 ml of hydrogen peroxide

Important: you CAN cause an overdose of hydrogen peroxide. This may cause uncontrollable vomiting or blood in the vomit.

When you shouldn’t make your dog vomit

You should never make your dog vomit if:

  • S/he has ingested something corrosive like a battery, or oven and drain cleaners, etc. Vomiting this up could cause damage to the oesophagus.
  • S/he has ingested something oily, like gasoline or motor oil. These substances can be inhaled, causing life-threatening pneumonia.
  • If s/he is already showing signs of poisoning, and especially if s/he is weak or drowsy. Instead, get your pooch to the vet right away.

NB – Never try to induce vomiting in flat-faced dogs like bulldogs, Boston Terriers, etc. You could cause them to choke.

Is it safe to help my cat vomit?

No. There is no safe method to induce vomiting in cats at home. All cases of accidental poisoning should be taken to vet ASAP.

Accidental poisoning can happen to any pet – be prepared!

Always be safe rather than sorry. No matter how conscientious a pet owner you may be, poisoning can and does happen, especially in dogs. Dogs are curious and likely to sniff out treats that smell or look appealing (and rat poison in particular can be attractive to dogs). Be vigilant and place potential poisons out of reach of all pets.

Read more: 10 foods you should never feed your dog or cat.

If you suspect poisoning, contact your vet ASAP! It’s always best to take your pet to the vet immediately, but if it’s not possible, you have the ability to help your furbaby at home. Just make sure you keep hydrogen peroxide 3% on hand to buy yourself some time.

Here’s to a rodent and poison-free home!

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