Is it safe to make my dog sick?

APL Sick Dog

Is it safe to make my dog sick?

Most pets, especially puppies, will at some point eat or swallow something they shouldn't. It is often our first instinct to want to ‘get it back up’.  However, this is something that should NEVER be attempted at home, despite what you read on the internet.

In certain poisoning cases your vet may decide that making your pet sick to help remove some of the toxic substance it has eaten is worthwhile.  However, it is not safe to carry this out with all poisons and it is something that your vet will consider very carefully.

The substances used to make an animal sick are called emetics and there are a few which are we will go through here and explain why they are dangerous to use at home.

Making your dog sick using salt water

Salt water is an old remedy that owners often think is a good method to induce vomiting. This is extremely dangerous since salt itself can be toxic if too much is used so please do not attempt to use this on your pet.  As little as half a teaspoon of salt in a small dog could cause increased salt levels in the blood resulting in poisoning.  Here at Animal PoisonLine there are cases where salt water has been used to make an animal sick resulting in serious salt poisoning when there was no need to make them vomit in the first place as the substance they had eaten was not toxic.

Can hydrogen peroxide by used to make my pet sick at home?

Hydrogen Peroxide is another compound that owners often consider using.  It works by causing irritation to the stomach which in itself is very unpleasant for your pet.  Added to that, strengths vary and any dose can potentially cause severe irritation to the mouth and throat and may also become foamy and be taken into the lungs accidentally.  In America the strength of hydrogen peroxide bought over the counter is a third of that bought in the UK.  If bought and used in this country, you have a risk of causing severe internal burns and suffering to your pet.

Other reasons why you should not make your dog or cat sick

There are several other reasons why making an animal sick may be contraindicated.  For example, if your pet has eaten something that is corrosive or could cause burns, making them sick will just re-expose the delicate tissues in the food-pipe, throat and mouth to the substance, increasing the risk of injury.

If your pet has swallowed something that can easily go down the windpipe (e.g. an oil or petrol), or that may foam or froth in the stomach (e.g. a detergent), making them sick can increase the risk of this happening, causing potentially severe complications in the lungs.

There are also objects which are unlikely to come up again and if they do could become lodged. A classic example is batteries, often eaten by dogs if they chew remote controls or children’s toys.  If they get stuck in the throat this is an emergency and one that can be avoided if the battery is left to pass through, in many cases uneventfully.

In summary, please do not try to make your pet sick at home, with the best intentions you may end up making them worse off.  If you are worried your pet has eaten something they should not have,  please call the Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509 000 for advice on what to do next. If your pet starts showing any signs, then take them to your local vet practice immediately for treatment. The sooner they are treated, the better the outcome.

Zoe Tizzard

Animal PoisonLine