Unfortunately, our canine and feline friends do not always have the best judgment on what they should or should not eat. Inevitably, most pet parents will find themselves in a situation in which their beloved cat or dog has eaten something that is toxic – leaving us with the question: Should I make my pet vomit? And how do I make my pet vomit? If you find yourself asking yourself these questions right now, please STOP and read below.

Does my Pet need to vomit??

After returning home and seeing that your rambunctious pug devoured an entire bag of trail mix, you may start to ask yourself, do they need to vomit? What should I do? The answer, always call a veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline before inducing vomiting. A medical professional will always be your best resource for determining the best steps for care and there are many times when making your pet vomit is not warranted, or could actually be harmful. In some scenarios, your veterinarian may recommend consulting with Pet Poison Helpline to determine the best plan for your pet.

Outside of knowing if vomiting is appropriate, it is also important to know the timing of when vomiting will be helpful. The majority of substances will have moved out of the stomach or have been absorbed approximately 90 minutes after ingestion. This means that if your pet ate a bag of chocolate chips 4 hours ago, vomiting will not produce any benefit and will only contribute to them feeling unwell. If your pet consumed something harmful and you are outside of this time frame, a veterinarian is the best person to make sure your pet gets the treatment it needs.

It is important to know that neither your veterinarian nor Pet Poison Helpline will judge you or alert authorities if your pet ingested an illegal substance; we simply want to ensure that they are treated appropriately and the quicker we know that they ate, the quicker we can treat them.

How do I make my pet vomit?

Over the last several decades, one of the most common at-home ingredients to induce vomiting has been hydrogen peroxide. While hydrogen peroxide is able to produce vomiting, we also now know that hydrogen peroxide can also cause severe damage to the gastrointestinal tract including: esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), gastric ulceration, gastric bleeding and gastroduodenal necrosis (death of stomach and intestinal tissue). In short, these complications can make your pet feel sick for 1-2 weeks and may require more treatment than whatever substance we were trying to eliminate from the stomach. Please DO NOT use hydrogen peroxide if you are worried that your animal needs to vomit. The only exceptions to this rule are if your animal consumed a substance that is either life-threatening or may severe/permanent injury and you are unable to access veterinary care.

The best option, bring your pet to a veterinarian. Veterinarians have access to several medications that can more safely induce vomiting without the negative side effects of hydrogen peroxide; your veterinarian can also determine if your pet needs any additional treatment.

I already made my pet vomit, what now?

If you are reading this and you have already made your pet vomit with hydrogen peroxide, don’t panic, it will be okay! In the case that you have already made your pet vomit, you should seek out veterinary care to help manage any side effects your animal may be experiencing as well as for medication to help reduce the chances of the previously mentioned side effects. If you made your pet vomit, there is a good chance that you are worried that your pet ate something dangerous and your veterinarian is the best person to help you determine if further treatment is needed.

Niedzwecki AH, Book BP, Lewis KM, Estep JS, Hagan J. Effects of oral 3% hydrogen peroxide used as an emetic on the gastroduodenal mucosa of healthy dogs. J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2017 Mar;27(2):178-184. doi: 10.1111/vec.12558. Epub 2016 Dec 14. PMID: 27973761.

Obr TD, Fry JK, Lee JA, Hottinger HA. Necroulcerative hemorrhagic gastritis in a cat secondary to the administration of 3% hydrogen peroxide as an emetic agent. J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2017 Sep;27(5):605-608. doi: 10.1111/vec.12639. Epub 2017 Aug 10. PMID: 28795786.