Is It Ever Safe to Induce Vomiting?

November 19, 2019

a white cat on a brown leather chair

If your pet ingests something potentially toxic, usually one of the quickest ways to help them is to induce vomiting. Many pet parents will take matters into their own hands here, and after searching the internet for resources, will attempt to induce vomit at home. When we suspect that our furry friends are in danger, it makes sense to want to act quickly, but, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) warns pet parents that trying to induce vomiting in your pet at home can be dangerous. There are many myths and a large amount of misinformation available to pet parents on the internet, and APCC wants to make sure you have the facts you need.

Dangerous At-Home Remedies

There are various household items and methods that APCC has seen pet parents try, but many of these should not be used and can potentially cause our furry friends more harm than good. 

  • Salt is a common ingredient people may turn to when attempting to induce vomit. However, ingestion of large amounts of salt can lead to dangerously high salt levels in your pet’s blood. This can cause your pet to walk unsteadily, develop tremors, seizures or even go into a coma. If these signs go untreated, excessive salt consumption can be life-threatening to pets.
  • Gagging pets, or sticking a finger or an object down their throats will not make them vomit because pets don’t have the same gag reflex as humans do. This method could actually cause trauma to the pet’s throat or could lead to the pet biting someone out of discomfort or fear.
  • Olive oil is also problematic for pets. If olive oil is given to pets, it can lead to greasy stools and pancreatitis. Even if they do end up vomiting after consuming the oil, it can lead to further complications (such as pneumonia) because the oil can be inhaled back into your pet’s lungs.
  • It’s true that Ipecac can make pets vomit, however it is very unsafe and can lead to much more serious problems.  Symptoms following Ipecac ingestion can include drooling, difficulty breathing, a drop in heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm and a potentially deadly heart condition.

Other common kitchen items and ingredients that are commonly thought to effectively induce vomit in pets include mustard, toast, water and milk. Although your pet might enjoy eating some of these, they unfortunately do not work when attempting to make your pet vomit.

So What’s the Safest Method?

The best thing you can do after a toxin ingestion concerning your pet is to immediately contact your veterinarian or APCC at (888) 426-4435. The only method that can be used to safely get a dog to vomit at home is by using hydrogen peroxide. But even when using peroxide, it needs to be done under the guidance of a veterinary professional because too much peroxide can be problematic. Contacting your local vet or APCC and explaining the type of toxin, the amount ingested and any other relatable information should always be your first step. That way, they can then advise you on whether or not you should bring your pet in, or if they think you can/should induce vomiting at home. Additionally, hydrogen peroxide should not be given to cats. It is too irritating to felines and can cause problems with their stomachs and esophagus. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be given at home to safely get a cat to vomit. 

If you believe your pet has ingested something potentially toxic or seems to be having an adverse reaction to something, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately at (888) 426-4435 for assistance.