When do I need to Make My Dog Vomit?

At least once a day the phone at the clinic blows up with a panicked owner wondering if they need to make their dog vomit because of something they’ve eaten. It’s “dietary indiscretion” because doctors find it difficult to write “stupid dog” in the medical chart. More interestingly, we rarely get the same question about a cat. Because cats aren’t that stupid and they only vomit recreationally, that is: for the shear joy of watching us clean up the mess while sitting nearby, pawing the puke off their face.


Recently Clinician’s Brief listed the top five things that required the induction of emesis (vomiting) in dogs based on the risks of critical illness or death. You know most of them, but a reminder never hurts.

Anticoagulant Rodenticides: Rat poisons, like De-con, cause rodents that ingest them to literally bleed to death. The same thing could happen to a dog that finds the bait. To work, vermin need to eat them so the poisons are somewhat palatable. Unfortunately, that makes them snack food to the dogs that discover the baits. These dogs need to vomit within 2 hours, let’s consider that as a general rule. Two hours. We have Rook, a silver lab,  he loves rat poison … so he was brought to the clinic and made to vomit. (Incidentally, he ate the whole bottle of the medicine we use to treat the poison three days later – so he stopped by for a bonus vomit.)

OTC Human Pain Relievers: 25% of all toxic episodes involving our animals involve the medicines we take for pain relief. Vomiting quickly is paramount especially for a cat. The average 10-pound feline could find itself in liver failure from one-250mg tablet of Ibuprofen (Advil). GI ulceration and liver or kidney damage can occur. Call your Veterinarian. They’ll again want to know the product and the dosage of the pills to determine the vomiting urgency.

Chocolate: The type of chocolate and size of your dog play a huge role in the level of toxicity. This is worth an immediate call to your Vet. We have calculators that assist us in knowing how much risk your dog is at if they ate (in increasing order of toxicity) milk chocolate, dark chocolate or the baking variety. Vomiting within 6 hours is okay because chocolate stays in the system a little longer. Here is Rook again. He liked the chocolate more on the way down than on the way up.

Xylitol: This popular sweetener is gaining traction as a sugar substitute in chewing gums and baking products. It can be fatal at relatively small doses. (An eight-pound Yorkie could go into liver failure chewing only two sticks of Trident gum.) Don’t wait on this one, vomit sooner rather than later. Remember small doses…so if a dog digs into a cake or batch of cookies; bad.

Grapes and Raisins:   Kidney disease can develop within 24 hours and the toxic dose varies from animal to animal. Don’t wait on these two either; vomiting within two-hours could be critical. Ask you know who…Rook has tried both raisins and red grapes and the results were the same both times. He blew fruit salads all over the clinic floor.

Your Vet might recommend a dose of hydrogen peroxide to give at home for any of these ingestions. The Animal Medical Center is not a big fan of peroxide because it doesn’t always work and can linger. One patient vomited for three days after giving the peroxide. Several dogs in the AMC vomiting hall of fame know that more efficient injectable emetics are available at the clinic.


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