How and When to Induce Vomiting in a Puppy

Dog playing with toy

Copr. Amy Shojai / CABC

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’s very important to note that inducing vomiting is not the best course of action in many cases, even when puppies ingest poison. Inducing vomiting should be performed under the recommendation of a veterinarian or a pet poison control expert. When toxic foods or medications are ingested, symptoms may develop in as little as 20 minutes or take days to occur. Metal objects, such as coins, can cause zinc toxicity as they sit in the GI tract. Even if some time has passed since a puppy ate grapes (a toxic food to dogs) or Ibuprofen (a toxic medication to dogs), inducing vomiting can help get some of the toxin out of the digestive tract.

Say you witness a puppy swallowing a foreign object, such as a pair of underwear or a squeaky toy. Making your puppy throw it up may be the best course to take, while the item is still in the stomach. 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 if the window of opportunity for ingestion is fairly narrow. Intervention before the toxin is fully absorbed or the foreign material moves into the intestines can sometimes make a world of difference.

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. Don’t wait for sharp items to pass through your puppy's 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. Chewed or swallowed batteries may leak acid, which can cause chemical burns to the stomach and esophagus. 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 or pet poison control 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 and esophagus. 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 your puppy has these symptoms, it can inhale the material on its way up and suffocate.

To induce vomiting, first, contact a veterinary professional to confirm that inducing vomiting is the best course of action. Feeding a small amount of food before vomiting is sometimes (but not always) recommended. Remember, you’re not rewarding your puppy for eating something it shouldn't, but sometimes diluting the poison with food helps delay its absorption. For solid objects, food may also act as padding and lubricant 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% 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 make your puppy's mouth foam. This combination usually prompts puppies to vomit in about five minutes. If your puppy doesn't vomit within 15 minutes, ask your veterinarian if you should repeat a dose or just move in to the next step of treatment.

Hydrogen peroxide is the only household product that should be used to try to induce vomiting. 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 offer an antidote or other follow-up measures to give your puppy the best chance at survival.

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.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.
Article Sources
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  2. Dowling, Patricia M., Drugs to Control or Stimulate Vomiting. Merck Veterinary Manual