What is Inducing Vomiting?

Inducing vomiting in your dog should only be undertaken either on the advice of a veterinarian or by a veterinarian, as there are medical conditions that make this unadvisable. Inducing vomiting in a dog is an emergency treatment used to expel a toxic or harmful substance from your dog's gastrointestinal tract, before it can be absorbed or cause damage. It must be undertaken shortly after ingestion, before the substance has passed through the stomach, to be effective.

In an emergency, your veterinarian may recommend you induce vomiting in your dog prior to transporting your dog to the veterinarian when time is critical. In these cases, only induce vomiting as instructed by your veterinarian. Certain poisons or existing medical conditions can be aggravated by this treatment, so it is important that your consult your veterinarian first. If possible, it is preferable to get veterinary treatment as it will be more effective and your pet can be closely monitored by your veterinarian in cases when poisoning has occurred. 

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Inducing Vomiting Procedure in Dogs

Induction of vomiting as a treatment to remove a toxic or harmful substance from your dog's gastrointestinal tract needs to be conducted within two to four hours of ingestion of the substance if it is going to be effective.

If your dog has ingested a harmful substance, contact your veterinarian to determine if you need to induce vomiting at home prior to visiting the vet or whether to transport your pet immediately to the vet for treatment. This decision will be based on how long it will take to get to the vet, whether the substance ingested and its toxicity can be identified or requires veterinary diagnosis, and the toxicity or potential damage of the substance ingested. 

If your veterinarian recommends you induce vomiting, the most common method recommended is to administer 3% hydrogen peroxide, by mouth (orally). The usual dosage is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of your pet’s weight. It can be administered by a syringe, turkey baster or eye dropper if available. This method usually results in your dog vomiting within 10 to 15 minutes, if it going to be effective. If possible, giving your dog a small meal prior to administering the hydrogen peroxide may help in the treatments effectiveness. If it does not work, it can be repeated once more. If a second attempt is unsuccessful, transport your dog to the veterinarian immediately. Regardless of whether your attempts at inducing vomiting in your dog are successful, your dog should be subsequently treated at veterinarian as vomiting only removes 40-60% of the ingested substance and further treatment of an ingested toxic substance may be required by your veterinarian. If you are unsure what substance your dog has ingested, take a sample of vomit with you to the veterinarian for analysis.

If vomiting is induced at your vet, he or she will administer an emetic that can be more effective than hydrogen peroxide and administer other follow up treatments.

For dogs, your veterinarian will administer apomorphine hydrochloride to induce vomiting. This medication may be administered orally, intravenously, or subcutaneously. It may be administered in a tablet placed under the eyelid (conjunctival sac) which dissolves and is absorbed; it is not as effective when administered intramuscularly. Vomiting usually occurs within 5-10 minutes. If administered using a tablet in the conjunctival (eyelid) membranes, excess dosage not absorbed can be removed when vomiting starts therefore avoiding administering more medication than is necessary. If it is not effective, additional dose are not useful.

Additional treatment with activated charcoal or other medication to prevent absorption of toxins may also be administered by your veterinarian and supportive care provided as necessary.

Efficacy of Inducing Vomiting in Dogs

Inducing vomiting will help minimize the effects of ingestion of a toxic or harmful substance. For the treatment to be useful it must be administered within 2-4 hours of ingestion. Antiemetics only remove about 40 to 60 perent of the stomach's contents, therefore while this is a useful emergency intervention to reduce the effect of a harmful substance being injested, further intervention by a veterinarian will be required. If conditions exist that preclude inducing vomiting, gastric lavage may be another treatment option.

Inducing Vomiting Recovery in Dogs

Recovery from induced vomiting will depend on what substance was induced, its toxicity level, timing of intervention, and how successful the treatment was. 

Apomorphine can cause central nervous system side effects such as excitement or depression. Dehydration can result if vomiting is prolonged. Your dog may require supportive treatment during recovery for central nervous system (CNS) symptoms, dehydration, or organ damage caused by toxicity. A special diet may be recommended by your veterinarian to provide organ support and restore electrolyte balance to your dog. You should monitor your dog for any concerning symptoms and report them to your veterinarian.

Cost of Inducing Vomiting in Dogs

Treatment for inducing vomiting in your dog can vary widely. Depending on your location, inducing vomiting in your dog can range in cost from $300 to $500. Additional costs associated with treatment of ingestion, e.g. activated charcoal, medications, hospitalization and supportive therapy can range up to $5,000, depending on the severity of your pet’s condition and treatments required.

Dog Inducing Vomiting Considerations

Treatment is only effective shortly after ingestion, usually within 2 hours. CNS stimulation or depression is a side effect of apomorphine and dehydration from vomiting is a risk. Both of these side effects can receive supportive treatment from your veterinarian.

Side effects of peroxide are rare but can include peroxide-induced brain inflammation. 

Animals that are at an increased danger of aspiration have an increased associated risk with emesis treatment of aspiration pneumonia. Dogs with laryngeal paralysis, megaesophagus, upper airway disease, and brachycephalic syndrome may be at increased risk for aspiration during vomiting and treatment with an alternative therapy such as gastric lavage may be considered.

If your dog is already showing symptoms of toxicity that include central nervous system symptoms, they are at an increased risk for aspiration, and as absorption of toxins has already occurred emesis may not be particularly effective.

Be sure to provide your veterinarian with information regarding any medications or conditions your dog has so they can determine the appropriateness of this treatment.

Inducing Vomiting Prevention in Dogs

Dogs are curious creatures. Removing toxic and harmful substances from your dog's environment so they are not apt to sample them or accidentally ingest them will prevent accidental poisonings or ingestions, and eliminate the need to induce vomiting in your dog. Be sure to identify all house and garden plants and check to see if they are toxic to your dog. Many common household and garden plant are not safe for dogs. Avoid giving human food to your dog unless you have checked whether they are appropriate for dogs. Many human foods such as grapes, chocolate, and citrus fruits are toxic to dogs. Remove small choking hazards from your dog's environment and keep all toxic substances such as household cleaners inaccessible to your pets. These precautions will also make your home safer for visitors with children or other pets.