How to make a dog throw up

How to make a dog throw up
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re asking how to make a dog throw up, you’re probably familiar with this scene: you’re doing laundry and your dangerously curious dog starts investigating a sock. Before you know it, the sock has disappeared, presumably into their belly! 

Dogs can often eat things that they shouldn't that need to be removed somehow. They might have eaten something non-edible and likely to cause an obstruction, like clothing, a toy, or a stone. There are also edible items that can cause an obstruction, like a corn-on-the-cob or peach stone. However, the problem is not always related to obstruction, dogs also sometimes eat poisonous things or things that are likely to cause damage to their guts, like onions, chocolate, or even batteries. So, in what situations might we, as vets, want to make a pet sick?

When should a dog be made to throw up?

Not every ill-advised 'treat' that your dog helps themselves to can be removed by making them vomit. Large objects that pose a risk of obstruction in the guts, could also get stuck on their way up through the oesophagus, from the stomach, and so pose a choking hazard to your dog. Similarly, sharp, irritant or caustic substances are only likely to cause further damage to the oesophagus on their way back up. In these instances, surgery or medication are better options, and your vet will discuss this with you.

Equally, if your dog ate something foreign, but not recently, it’s unlikely to still be in the stomach, so making them sick won’t help. Stomach contents normally move through to the small intestine within three hours, so making your dog sick is most effective in the first hour or two. Making the judgement whether an item is safe to come back up is best left to a vet.

What can be used to make a dog throw up?

The most common method of making your dog sick is an injection, given by your vet. It works very quickly, within around fifteen minutes, and is very effective. Before the injection was so widely available, other methods, like soda crystals and three percent Hydrogen Peroxide were used. Although these methods are still sometimes used, they can take a little longer to work, are less reliable, and can cause irritation to the mouth as well as a higher risk of aspiration (inhaling the vomit).

It is important never to try to make your dog sick with any other household substance, as these could cause ulceration or irritation to the mouth, stomach, or intestines. Even if you have soda crystals or three percent Hydrogen Peroxide at home, it is best to take your dog to the vet, rather than trying to make them sick at home.

Why shouldn’t I make my dog throw up without speaking to a vet?

Although it might be tempting in the heat of the moment to quickly give your dog some soda crystals to make them sick, this should only be done if the vet has instructed you to do so. There are risks associated with induced vomiting, like choking or aspiration, and it is far better for your dog to be at the vets when it happens, in case there is an emergency. Your vet will also know when it is appropriate to make your dog sick, or whether there is a safer method of removing the object, food, or substance.

So, what should I do if my dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have?

If your dog has eaten something they shouldn't have, from your barbecue leftovers or food waste to your daughter's swimsuit, speak to a vet immediately, especially if they are showing symptoms of being unwell. 

It’s understandable to feel panicked and want to act immediately, but it really is much safer to take them to the vet rather than making them sick at home. As well as making your dog throw up, if appropriate, your vet will also be able to give them a full check over, to see that there is no lasting damage. They can also give an anti-nausea injection and prescribe any ongoing treatment if they have eaten something toxic or caustic.

If you speak to your vet and they agree that time is of the essence and you have soda crystals or the correct concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide, they may decide that you should make your dog throw up at home and then bring the dog in for a check over. However, always get instructions from your vet first to make sure you’re making the best decision for your beloved canine companion.

The best way to make your dog throw up is with an injection, at the vets. However, if your vet agrees that making your dog vomit at home is the best option in a particular situation, they’ll tell you the correct dosage and product to use to make the procedure as reliable and safe as possible.

For more content like this, read: My puppy would throw up during every car ride – this is how I trained her to enjoy the car

Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS

Dr Hannah Godfrey is a small animal vet who graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but focussed on small animals from 2014. She has a passion for soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, and canine and feline dentistry, having completed additional training in these areas.