If your pet has eaten something poisonous, your veterinarian may recommend that you make your dog throw up. Here’s how to do that.

By Deb M. Eldredge, DVM
August 24, 2020
Advertisement
Sally Anscombe / Getty

Knowing how to make a dog throw up might save you an expensive trip to the emergency clinic or even save your dog’s life. Before showing you how to do this, it is important to note that there are times when you should NOT make your dog vomit.

When Throwing Up Is Not a Good Idea

Believe or not, some dogs are capable of swallowing things that could do a great deal of damage if vomited back up. Every year, veterinary radiologists have a contest showing incredible radiographs of things dogs have swallowed. There is always at least one Labrador retriever who somehow managed to get a steak knife down! Sharp objects, even ones as small as a sewing needle, are best left for your veterinarian to deal with.

Caustic liquids, both alkaline and acidic, can damage the delicate esophageal mucosa if thrown back up. Along with liquids, remember things like batteries can leak if they were chewed on before being swallowed.

A third major class of “do not make your dog throw this up” objects includes oils such as gasoline, kerosene, or cooking oils. These liquids are very easy for a dog to aspirate and can cause potentially deadly aspiration pneumonia.

Vomiting also can be dangerous for dogs with certain conditions. If your dog is having a seizure, you need to go to the veterinary clinic ASAP—do not try to make him throw up. The same is true for a dog who suffers from megaesophagus or laryngeal paralysis. Dogs with those conditions are prone to aspiration pneumonia in the best of times and vomiting is a high risk for them. As always, you need to be aware of your safety as well; if your dog is not comfortable with his mouth being handled and might bite, head to the clinic.

When to Make Your Dog Throw Up

There are many substances you can safely use to make a dog throw up however. Pet Poison Helpline lists their top toxins every year and for dogs, chocolate, grapes and raisins, xylitol, and medications—pet and human, both prescription and over the counter—land in the top 10. If your dog has ingested any of these toxins, making your dog throw up is a recommended course of action.

Inducing vomiting to clear toxins from your dog’s system is best done within two hours of the dog swallowing the offending objects. If you can make your dog vomit within 30 minutes, up to 50 percent of the toxins he ate can be removed.

Substances That Are Used to Make Dogs Throw Up & What Not to Use

At the veterinary clinic, apomorphine is usually the method of choice to make a dog vomit. This is an injectable or occasionally used as a tablet under the conjunctiva—the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids—of the eye. 

In June 2020, the FDA announced approval for a new medication to make dogs throw up. Clevor (ropinirole) is an eye drop that can cause dogs to vomit when used in the eyes. It’s a prescription medication, so it’s another choice that would only be used by your veterinarian.

For dog owners who need to induce vomiting at home, hydrogen peroxide is the method of choice as most families will have some in their bathroom cabinet. It’s important the hydrogen peroxide be a 3 percent solution. Higher concentrations can be toxic. 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.” The hydrogen peroxide irritates the dog’s intestinal tract, prompting him to regurgitate. Hydrogen peroxide does degenerate over time, so be sure to replace yours by the recommended expiration date.

There are some at-home solutions dog owners try which are not safe for making your dog throw up. These include alcohol (which can be poisonous to your dog), salt water (which can also be toxic), syrup of ipecac (which can cause heart problems), and trying to gag your dog with your finger down his throat (which can lead to you getting bitten). Do not try any of these substances or methods to induce vomiting. You may make your dog even sicker. If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide, get your dog to a veterinary medicine provider as soon as possible.

How to Make Your Dog Throw Up

Before making your dog throw up, contact your veterinarian or a phone hotline—like Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 or ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435—to get their advice. Remember, hotlines like these do charge for their services, so a consultation fee may apply.

  1. If your dog hasn’t eaten recently, give him a small amount of food or treats. Some dogs vomit more readily if they have some food.
  2. Give your dog ½ to 1 teaspon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide per 10 pounds of body weight by mouth. So if your dog is 50 pounds, administer between 2½ to 5 teaspoons of liquid. A plastic dosing syringe or turkey baster works best, but you can hold out your dog’s lip and spoon it into your dog’s mouth if you have to.
  3. Stay with your dog while you wait for him to throw up. It also helps to walk your dog around, even getting him to bounce a bit after you dose him. The movement can encourage vomiting.
  4. If your dog hasn’t vomited within 10 minutes, give your dog an additional dose or hydrogen peroxide. If he still hasn’t vomited after a second dose, head to the vet—they’ll need to use a stronger medication to make it happen.
  5. If you are successful in getting your dog to throw up, be sure to move your dog away from anything he vomits. Most dogs will happily eat anything they regurgitate. Your vet may also want you to collect the vomit in a container and bring it to her office for examination.

Hydrogen peroxide is not totally benign. It does cause gastric irritation and your dog may be a bit “off” for a few days—perhaps not eating with his usual gusto. If this is the case, discuss feeding a bland diet for a few days with your vet.