When To Induce Vomiting And When It's Not A Good Idea

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

One of the great mysteries of life is why dogs and cats eat the things they do?

We get a phone call almost daily from a concerned parent whose pet just ate ...Well, you name it a pet has eaten it.

The question always gets volleyed to the back treatment area where a veterinarian consults with the parent to try to understand the magnitude and repercussions of the ingestion.

My Jekyll's early morning yawn ...
although it does look exactly like his "I'm about to yack" yawn.

Here's the take home thumb nail version of ingestion:
  1. If your pet eats anything that is NOT DOG OR CAT FOOD, or
  2. If they eat an ABNORMAL AMOUNT of any food, or,
  3. If they MIGHT HAVE EATEN something that is not dog or cat food.

Then you should call the Pet Poison Hotline, or your vet. 

Don't wait. minutes count, and hours can kill.

I am all about keeping things as simple as possible. Why? because in times of panic your brain doesn't think properly. So, just reduce the thinking to two step:;

"I think my dog ate..." therefore, "I will call a professional."

OK, after that we discuss the following;
  1. Age, size, breed,
  2. Amount of product ingested,
  3. Type of product ingested,
  4. When it was ingested,
  5. Any complicating pet factors, like disease, medications, etc.

Please remember to look at your home and possessions as a place that needs to be protected from a toddler who wanders and ingests arbitrary items. Don't leave out any medications, choking hazards, or dangerous items laying around. Everything in your pets environment that they have access to is a a potential "chew on and swallow" item. Don't leave stuff accessible to them, they will disappoint you, and I would argue that it is your fault, not theirs.

OK, so you have a pet, you have stuff, you therefore need a pet emergency kit.

Your emergency pet medical kit should have 3% hydrogen peroxide. You should call your vet, ER, or Pet Poison Helpline BEFORE using this.

Some products should not be vomited!!!

Here is my simplified list of things to induce vomiting for:
  1. Chocolate. I would first emphasize to call the Pet Poison Hotline and discuss the amount and type of chocolate. It takes quite a lot of chocolate, and it usually has to be a very dark  bakers chocolate to cause problems.
  2. Plants, that aren't supposed to be eaten.
  3. Clothing like hoisery and synthetic materials.
  4. Plastics, unless it is thick and might have hard edges that could damage the esophagus.
  5. Medications unless they are in liquid or gel cap form.

Here's what you DO NOT induce vomiting for:
  1. Petroleum products
  2. Glues
  3. Bleach, cleaners, most liquids

The best way to get your dog to vomit is to give 1 tsp per 10 pounds of hydrogen peroxide. The maximum dose is 3 tbsp. You can do this twice about 10-15 minutes apart. If this isn't working head to your vets office or the closest emergency clinic.

And, as fate would have it, as I began writing this blog I had a client call today.

They had just left the office from their examination, got home, went back to the project he had left, dropped a bolt on the floor and POOF! his dog swallowed it. Without knowing what kind of bolt it was I told him to have him vomit it up. Three tablespoons of peroxide later the bolt was back on his floor. See these blogs do make a pets life better.

If you have a question, concerns, or just want to share your pet knowledge with our pet enthusiasts please visit Pawbly.com. We are a free pet community with a big heart.


Krista Magnifico, DVM owns a small animal hospital in northern Maryland, where she practices everyday. She wants to make quality veterinary care available to everyone, everywhere at any time; trying to save the world 1 wet nose @ a time.  Her blog is a diary of he day-to-day life & the animals and people she meets. 

Dr. Krista is also the founder of pawbly.com, free pet advice and assistance.

To contact her, you may leave a comment on her blog, email her or catch her on Twitter or Facebook.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw 
Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences 

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!


  1. This is good to know. Thank goodness my dog doesn't swallow things too often that he shouldn't. I do have a cat that will swallow just about anything. Can you give hydrogen peroxide to cats as well?

    My family's golden retriever ate a carton of Oreos once. We were really worried, but when we called the vet she was not too concerned because of the low amount of actual chocolate in the cookies. I don't even recall that our dog had an upset tummy or anything from it.

    1. Cookie had to get her stomach emptied once, when she found and ate something outside what appeared to be a brownie. Talked to a vet to make sure the amount of chocolate won't hurt her when the vets asked whether it could have been a pot brownie ... ha ... so just to be save out it had to go.

      No idea whether hydrogen peroxide is used for cats also, sorry.

  2. Thank you! Great article, I've had to explain this to several people recently...you do not always want to just induce vomiting!


    1. Yep, there are times to get them to throw it up and there are times when vomiting it up would hurt them further.


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