When a pet eats something toxic a quick and appropriate response could save his/her life. What exactly should you do?
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If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance you can call the ASPCA poison control center at (888) 426-4435 and they can help you determine if the substance is toxic to your pet. The ASPCA poison control center is available 24/7 so this is a good option if it is late in the night and you cannot find a veterinarian who is available.
Call Your Veterinarian
Contact your dog’s veterinarian as soon as possible. Try to provide the veterinarian with as much information as you can. If you have the bottle or label of the substance that your dog ingested, you should bring that to the vet. Also, try to determine the time when your dog ingested the substance.
Do Not Give Anything To Your Dog
Unless your veterinarian instructs you to do so, you should NOT give any medication to your dog or attempt any remedy. It is common to think that we can help our pets by giving a home remedy or an over the counter medication. However, these remedies can worsen the situation, especially when we do not know what the dog ingested. Stay calm and follow the instructions of the veterinarian.
Inducing vomiting is the most logical thing to do when a dog eats something toxic. We need to get it out of there, right? However, there are several things that we should consider before deciding to induce vomiting.
Vomiting should only be induced if the toxin ingestion occurred in the previous hour or when the dog is not showing any symptoms and the ingestion time is unknown. If the patient ingested the toxin more than one hour ago but the stomach remains full, then vomit induction or stomach lavage can still be considered.
Vomit should never be induced in dogs who have been previously diagnosed with certain respiratory conditions such as laryngeal paralysis, megaesophagus, aspiration pneumonia, and upper airway disease, because there is a high risk of aspiration pneumonia or secondary complications. Likewise, it is risky to induce vomit in brachiocephalic breeds (pug, English bulldog, Shih-Tzu). These dogs may be better candidates for sedation and stomach lavage rather than vomit induction; however, your veterinarian will determine what is the best option for your dog.
If your dog is presenting signs of intoxication such as seizures, vomit should NOT be induced. Certain intoxication's result in severe sedation and a decreased gag reflex, increasing the risk for aspiration pneumonia during vomit induction. When the patient is already symptomatic, the toxin has likely been already absorbed, and inducing vomit will not be helpful.
There are certain toxic ingestions where vomit should never be induced. If your dog ingested a caustic or corrosive substance, such as undiluted drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, hydrochloric acid, concentrated sodium hypochlorite, lye products, vomiting will cause injury to the stomach, esophagus, and mouth. In addition, if the dog ingested gasoline, mineral spirits, fuel, kerosene or furniture polish oils, vomit should never be induced. These liquids are very easy to aspirate when the patient vomits; therefore, vomiting is contraindicated due to the high risk of aspiration.
When Vomit Should Be Induced
- With recent ingestion (less than 1 hour) in a dog without symptoms.
- With unknown time of ingestion in a dog without symptoms.
- When the dog ingested a product known to stay in the stomach (e.g., grapes, raisins, chocolate, xylitol gum) and has no symptoms.
When Vomit Should NOT Be Induced
- With corrosive toxicant ingestion (e.g., lye, ultra-bleach, batteries, oven-cleaning chemicals).
- With hydrocarbon toxicant ingestion (e.g., tiki-torch oil, gasoline, kerosene).
- In patients with symptoms of intoxication.
- In patients with an underlying disease (e.g., megaesophagus, history of aspiration pneumonia, laryngeal paralysis) that make vomiting very risky.
How To Induce Vomit In Your Dog
There are various agents that cause vomiting in dogs. Currently, the only home recommendation for dog owners is hydrogen peroxide, but there are other veterinary-prescribed agents. Methods that are not recommended for vomit induction include digital induction of vomiting, syrup of ipecac, liquid soaps, dry mustard powders, and salt. Digital induction of vomiting often results in physical injury to the pet owner (dog bite), or injury to the pet's throat and soft palate.
Hydrogen peroxide works by causing local gastric irritation, which sends a signal to the brain and results in vomit. Only a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution should be used, as higher concentrations can damage the stomach.
Adverse effects associated with use of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomit include irritation for the stomach, gastric dilatation and/or volvulus, and aspiration pneumonia. Hydrogen peroxide should NOT be used in cats.
If it is safe to induce vomit in your dog, you can use a Stat! Syringe for easy administration of hydrogen peroxide. Each dose is calibrated in half teaspoon per five pounds of dog.
Know your dog’s weight and draw up to that marker and administer to the side of the cheek and watch your dog. Your dog should vomit in 5 to 20 minutes. If your dog has not vomited after that time, repeat the procedure. Save your pets’ throw up and call your veterinarian to see if it needs to be analyzed.
For more information or to order Stat! Syringe click here
About the author:
Dr. Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz practices mixed animal veterinary medicine and she has a special interest in shelter medicine and animal welfare. Stephanie enjoys volunteering at local animal shelters, reading, writing and traveling.
Lee, Justine A (2013). Top Five Mistakes to Avoid in Your Poisoned Patients. Western Veterinary Conference 2013. Retrieved on January 28 from: