From dirty socks to plastic toys, puppies put nearly everything in their mouths. Clueless puppies can chew up and swallow dangerous foreign objects or even—God forbid—poisonous toxins like antifreeze, poisonous houseplants, and forbidden people food. When your puppy eats something dangerous, inducing vomiting may be the first step in saving its life. Yet, not all situations warrant this drastic measure. For this reason, it's just as important to know when you should not induce vomiting as it is to know how to do it.
When to Induce Vomiting
It takes time for swallowed poisons to be fully absorbed into a puppy’s system. If it ate something such as grapes (a toxic food for dogs) or ingested a medication such as ibuprofen, it may be time to take action, but only if it is not showing symptoms. Some poisons cause symptoms in as little as 20 minutes after swallowing, or it could take a couple of hours or days for you to notice a problem. Still, the quicker you can get the toxin out of its digestive tract, the less that will be absorbed into its system.
Say it swallows a foreign object like a pair of underwear or a squeaky toy and you get to it fast. Making your puppy throw it up may be the best course to take, as the item won’t move from the tummy into the intestines right away, giving you time to rid the problem. And even if you don’t witness the dirty deed, but find suspicious evidence like a gnawed plant, chocolate candy wrappers, or an open bottle of pills, it may be a good idea to get your puppy to purge.
When Not to Induce Vomiting
Some swallowed objects and poisons are just as dangerous coming back up as they are going down. Sharp objects such as pins, tacks, shards of glass or plastic, screws, needles, hooks from Christmas ornaments, or other pointy items can cut your pet's insides. Metal objects, such as coins, can cause zinc toxicity. And puppies that swallow a battery may leak acid, which can cause serious burns. Don’t wait for sharp, toxic items to pass through its system. A vet needs to surgically remove these culprits. Take your puppy to your emergency room immediately.
Other fluid-like items may cause burns or further damage if they come back up. Do not induce vomiting if your puppy swallowed acids (such as bleach or drain cleaner), alkali liquids (such as ammonia or laundry detergent), motor oil or gas, paint or paint thinner, or any toxic houseplant. Instead, place a call to your vet immediately.
How to Induce Vomiting
First and foremost, make a call to your vet. It’s always best to check with a professional before you induce vomiting. If you are not too far away from your vet, it is usually best to bring your pup into the office to have vomiting induced, as the products your vet has to make your dog vomit are safer and less irritating to a pet's stomach. However, if you don't have time to get to the vet's office and the vet says it's safe and your puppy is alert, it's go-time. You can induce vomiting in a puppy up to 3 hours after it ingests a foreign substance or object, but the sooner, the better. Do note, however, that it can be dangerous to induce vomiting if the pup acts dizzy, seems depressed, or falls unconscious. If this is the case, it can inhale the material on its way up and suffocate.
To induce vomiting, first, serve the poisoned pup a small amount of food. Remember, you’re not rewarding it for eating spilled paint thinner, but diluting the poison with food helps delay its absorption. For solid objects, food may also act as padding and lube when the item comes back up. Plus, it can be tough to get a puppy to upchuck if its tummy is too empty.
Next, give your puppy 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with an eyedropper or plastic syringe (without a needle). Make sure the peroxide is still fizzy or it won't work. Check with your veterinarian to find out how much to give your pet based on their size and overall health. A squirt gun or turkey baster also works well in this instance. The peroxide will tastes nasty and foam. This combination usually prompts puppies to vomit in about five minutes. You can repeat this dose two or three times, with five minutes in between each dose.
In the past, syrup of ipecac and salt have been used to induce vomiting but this s not recommended. Syrup of ipecac can be damaging to a dog's heart. Giving salt can result in salt poisoning which can cause the brain to swell.
After your pet has emptied its stomach, call your vet. A vet may want you to bring your pup in, along with a sample of the vomit. A vet can analyze the poison and offer an antidote or other follow-up measures to be sure your puppy survives.
The best way to deal with problem poisons or dangerous items is to prevent the problem from happening in the first place. Place child-proof locks on cupboards, keep sweet candy and pills out of reach, and puppy-proof holiday decorations to keep your baby dog safe.
Take the "Oh No!" Out of Your and Your Pets' Holiday "Ho-Ho-Ho!" U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Bates, Nicola. Zinc Toxosis in Dogs. Companion Animal, vol. 24, no. 2, 2019. doi:10.12968/coan.2019.24.2.102
Dowling, Patricia M., Drugs to Control or Stimulate Vomiting. Merck Veterinary Manual