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We’ve all been there. Our dogs eat something that they are not supposed to — a human medication, your other dog’s medication, or a tasty treat such as chocolate or raisins — and our first thought is, “how do I make my dog throw up?” Vomiting is a quick way to remove a harmful substance like chocolate from your dog’s body. Knowing how to make a dog throw up safely, however, is important. Here is what you need to know before you induce your dog to vomit.

When to (or Not to) Make a Dog Throw Up

If a dog eats something harmful that he shouldn’t have, it’s possible he may vomit it up on his own. When that doesn’t happen, making your dog throw up something he’s eaten might seem like a good idea. But the reality is that inducing vomiting is something you should only attempt to do under the guidance of a veterinarian. There are very good reasons for this. Note that if your vet is not open, some services provide live chat and video options to connect you with a vet.

Some substances, such as batteries or other caustic materials or sharp objects, can cause dangerous and even lethal harm if regurgitated. Swallowed objects can cause blockages or perforations, and the act of inducing vomiting itself comes with risks, such as aspiration pneumonia, caused by inhaling toxic substances, usually gastric contents, into the lungs. You may consider soothing your dog’s throat with a pet-safe liquid respiratory supplement after inducing vomiting.

It can be dangerous to induce vomiting in brachycephalic breeds, such as Pugs or Pekingese, because of concerns of causing aspiration pneumonia, so be sure to check with a veterinarian first. Do not induce vomiting if your dog is lethargic or comatose or if he is having seizures. If your dog ingested something more than two-six hours ago, it may be too late to get him to vomit it up, depending on what was ingested.

The safest thing to do is to take your dog into the vet’s office immediately. However, if you can’t get there, you may have to induce vomiting at home. Talk with a veterinarian, or if your dog swallows something dangerous when your vet’s office is closed, call a pet poison control hotline to get advice from the experts before you proceed. When you call, be prepared to provide important information, such as what he ate, how much, and when; your dog’s weight, and any health problems he may have.

Why Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide 3-percent solution is the recommended medication for making a dog throw up. Luckily, it is something many of us have in our medicine cabinet. It’s also a good idea to include a bottle in your dog’s travel first aid kit.

According to PetMD, hydrogen peroxide is a “topical antiseptic that is used orally as a home-administered emetic in dogs when clients cannot transport the patient to a veterinary hospital in a timely manner.” Hydrogen peroxide is an irritant to the dog’s intestinal tract and typically works within 10-15 minutes, recovering about 50 percent of the ingested contents of your dog’s stomach. The vomiting can last for up to 45 minutes, so make sure you dose your dog in a place where he will feel as comfortable as possible throwing up.

Hydrogen peroxide is generally considered safe when administered by a veterinarian. At home, however, you don’t have the luxury of veterinary expertise. Don’t make your dog throw up if he exhibits any of the following symptoms or conditions:

  • Already vomiting.
  • Severely lethargic.
  • Comatose.
  • Decreased swallowing ability.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Seizures or hyperactive activity.
  • Recent abdominal surgery or megaesophagus (a generalized enlargement of the esophagus).
  • Consumed corrosive agents, sharp objects, or drugs.

Steps to Take to Make a Dog Throw Up

First, always call your veterinarian. Even if you plan on making your dog throw up at home, your veterinarian is a valuable resource and will be able to provide you with the most accurate information about your dog’s condition.

  1. If your dog hasn’t eaten within the last two hours, giving him a small meal can make it more likely that he will vomit.
  2. Make sure you have a 3-percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Higher concentrations are toxic and can cause serious damage.
  3. Administer the proper amount: the suggested dosage is 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of the dog’s body weight by mouth, with a maximum dose of 3 tablespoons for dogs who weigh more than 45 pounds. But ask your veterinarian about the best dosage for your dog and only induce vomiting if your dog ate the substance within 2 hours.
  4.  Administer the dosage with a feeding syringe or turkey baster and squirt it from the side by pulling back his lips and squirting between his back teeth. You can also squirt from the front into the back of your dog’s tongue or mouth. Be careful not to let your dog inhale the substance, as this can lead to aspiration. If your dog doesn’t vomit within 15 minutes, you can give him a second dose.
  5. Stay with your dog while he vomits. Collect the vomit for your vet to analyze, and do not let your dog re-ingest the material.
  6. Keep an eye out for complications and adverse reactions, such as vomiting for more than 45 minutes, diarrhea, lethargy, bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), or gastric ulcers.
  7. Follow up with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Timing is critical, and the safest step is to take your dog to the veterinary office or emergency clinic to have vomiting induced. In some cases, other treatment may also be needed, such as IV fluids. And if you haven’t been successful making your dog vomit, your vet may give him a stronger medication to get rid of the substance he swallowed, as well as the hydrogen peroxide.
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