- If your dog eats something they shouldn't, many professionals will recommend making them throw up.
- There are instances when you should make your dog vomit, as well as instances when forcing them to throw up can do more harm than good.
- Always call your veterinarian or animal poison control before attempting to make your dog vomit.
- Using 3% hydrogen peroxide is an easy, safe way to get your dog to throw up. (Warning: concentrations higher than 3% are toxic to dogs)
- Monitor your dog closely after administering 3% hydrogen peroxide to ensure that they vomit and don't show any other signs of distress.
Though they’re typically very lovable creatures, dogs can also be devious, and there are times when they may get into things that they shouldn’t. Medications, poisonous foods, plants, chemicals, recreational drugs, and various other things that a dog would love to eat can wreak havoc on their system if consumed. If your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, the best thing to do is call your veterinarian, a local emergency clinic, or the pet poison hotline for assistance. In many cases, pet parents may be directed by their vet or a poison control hotline to make the dog throw up the offending substance, but you might be unfamiliar with how to actually do so.
In this article, you will learn how to induce vomiting in dogs safely and effectively, as well as when to do it and when NOT to do it. You will also learn any potential risks involved and when to get a veterinarian involved.
Inducing Vomiting in Dogs: When Should You Do It?
Dogs are known as indiscriminate eaters — they can and do eat things they shouldn’t. With some caveats (see ‘When NOT to make a dog throw up’), inducing vomiting is the treatment of choice when a dog eats a toxic or dangerous item. This may include:
- Toxic human foods such as grapes, garlic, onions, chocolate, or sugar-free items that contain xylitol
- Human and pet prescription medication (sometimes they also eat the bottle!)
- Over-the-counter supplements
- Recreational drugs, including edible cannabis products
- Toys, socks, and various other non-food items
- Toxic chemicals, such as antifreeze
- Rat poison that causes bleeding
- Toxic plants
When NOT to make a dog throw up
There are plenty of situations where you should NOT make a dog throw up, including:
- If more than an hour has passed since your dog has eaten the offending item. In this case, it has probably passed through the stomach, so vomiting likely won’t remove the substance or item. Inducing vomiting in a dog only helps if the item is still in the stomach and hasn’t been digested and absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream
- The ingested item/substance is going to cause more problems coming up than going down. Examples include caustic substances like bleach (can cause ulcers in the esophagus), sharp items, or petroleum jelly or mineral oil (which can be accidentally inhaled)
- The dog is already vomiting
- The dog has an underlying health condition that can make inducing vomiting unsafe
- The dog is already showing signs of poisoning (seizures, drooling, lethargy, hyperactivity, etc.)
- The dog is very old or debilitated
- The dog has laryngeal paralysis, megaesophagus, or difficulty swallowing. (They would be at risk for accidentally inhaling vomited material, which can cause aspiration pneumonia)
- The dog is brachycephalic. (Smush-face dogs, like Pugs, are also at risk for accidentally inhaling vomited material)
- The dog has a recent history of surgery
- The dog is already on medication that may have a negative interaction with hydrogen peroxide (we’ll get deeper into why this matters in a minute)
How to Make a Dog Throw Up: Step-by-Step Instructions
If you do end up having to induce vomiting in a dog, there are a couple things you should do first:
Talk to a professional. Call your veterinarian, local emergency clinic, or the pet poison hotline before making your dog throw up. Even if you are planning on making your dog vomit at home, do your best to get information from pet health experts beforehand. They can tell you if doing so is an appropriate treatment for your dog and their specific situation. When you call, have all pertinent information on hand, including what your dog ate, how much they ate, when they ate it, their weight, and any health issues they already have.
Feed your dog a small amount of food. Give your dog a couple of bites of food if they haven’t eaten in the past couple of hours. This will make them more likely to throw up.
Using hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in dogs
The easiest and safest way to make a dog vomit at home is to give them 3% hydrogen peroxide by mouth. It’s important that you ONLY use 3% hydrogen peroxide, as higher concentrations are considered toxic to dogs and can burn the gastrointestinal tract.
To get your dog to throw up using 3% hydrogen peroxide, follow these three steps:
Step 1: Get some assistance. Since administering 3% hydrogen peroxide is often easier with two people, enlist a second pair of hands if you can.
Step 2: Calculate how much 3% hydrogen peroxide you need. The standard recommended amount is 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight with a maximum amount of 3 tablespoons.
Step 3: Administer 3% hydrogen peroxide. Use a syringe or baster to squirt the liquid into the corner of a dog’s mouth (into the pouch formed at the corner of the mouth between the lips and gums). You don’t even have to open their mouth — just squirt into the corner of the mouth, and then gently massage their throat with a downward motion to encourage them to swallow. Dogs will usually lick their lips after they swallow.
The 3% hydrogen peroxide will foam in the stomach and make your pup feel nauseous enough to vomit.
In severe cases, dogs may still require treatment (such as medications or intravenous fluids) after inducing vomiting for added support, to treat toxicity symptoms, or to remove any absorbed toxins.
If you are unable to make your dog vomit, then get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian may administer a stronger emetic (medication that induces vomiting), provide other supportive care, or run testing if clinically indicated.
Avoid alternative methods
If you’ve wondered how to make a dog throw up with your fingers or salt, wonder no more: don’t use either method.
Using your fingers to make a dog vomit is dangerous and puts you at risk for an accidental dog bite injury. Using salt to make a dog vomit is not recommended because it puts your dog at risk for life-threatening electrolyte imbalances.
What to Do After Making a Dog Throw Up
Monitor your dog closely after giving 3% hydrogen peroxide and collect everything they vomit — your veterinarian may want to see it and you want to make sure your dog doesn’t eat it. If your dog doesn’t vomit within 15-20 minutes of giving 3% hydrogen peroxide, readminister a single dose. If your dog still doesn’t vomit, call your veterinarian or take your dog to them immediately.
Watch your dog after vomiting for several hours, and take them to the vet if they exhibit any of the following signs:
- Vomiting for more than 1 hour after administering 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Extreme tiredness
- Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain
- Bloody vomit or feces
- Tarry feces
- Any signs of toxicity (seizures, bleeding, abnormal behavior, etc.)
- Refusing to eat the day after administration of 3% hydrogen peroxide
Precautions and Risks
The main risks with making your dog throw up at home include:
- Not removing all the toxic material from your dog’s system
- Accidental inhalation of vomitus or hydrogen peroxide
- Accidental overdosage of hydrogen peroxide
By following the precautions and instructions included in this article and enlisting the help of your local veterinarian or pet poison hotline, you can avoid problems associated with making your dog throw up and quickly get them back on the road to health.