Induce Vomiting to Prevent Surgery: What to do When your Dog Eats a Foreign Object
A friend of mine called me recently and was very upset. This was the second time his dog Barkley had eaten a mango pit. The first time, he threw it up, but this time it stayed down for more than a week! The local vet logically recommended surgery, but my friend was not happy about slicing Barkley’s stomach open. He called me to see if there was anything else he could do.
The pit was large and flat and it was unlikely to go further than the stomach. I thought if we made Barkley throw up, it could get stuck in the esophagus. We had to find a way that would make the mango pit slippery enough to make it slip out without complications.
“Throw up mix”
I suggested he cook two cups of squash, make a puree and add 1/3 cup of flaxseed steeped in the same amount of hot water. The flax seed made the whole mixture slimy and slippery, which was perfect to make the pit slide out.
To make Barkley throw up, we gave him hydrogen peroxide - (to be given just before feeding- see dosing below). When peroxide reacts with stomach juices it bubbles up, which makes most dogs throw up.
My friend and I agreed that he would call me if there was any news and that he would also be ready to see the local vet in the unlikely case that the pit gets stuck. Finally, an hour later, I received a text message from Elan: “Peter, call me!"
“Oh no,” I thought, “Barkley may be in trouble!” I called right away, anxiously waiting for an answer. “Peter, we got the pit! ” my friend proclaimed victoriously.
We were both ecstatic. Barkley didn’t need to go under the knife. Also, one squash, flax seed and a little bit of peroxide are definitely much less expensive than abdominal surgery!
This whole story prompted me to write a little more on foreign body ingestion because this was not the first time I have seen dogs eating strange things including a fine china plate with the dinner, 10 golf balls or a corn cob.
What can you do if your dog eats an indigestible object?
If your dog ingested a toxic substance or a poisonous plant or you are not sure what exactly went down Fido’s stomach, contact your local emergency care provider. Otherwise, read on.
FIRST AID – FOREIGN BODY INGESTIONAsk the following questions:
1. Do you know what your dog ate?
If the answer is NO and your dog has been repeatedly vomiting or having diarrhea for more than one day or appears to behave strangely, contact your vet immediately.
IF the answer is YES you know what your dog ate, go to step 2.
2. Is your dog drooling?
If the answer is YES, the object may be stuck in the esophagus or your dog ate a toxin. You should see your vet immediately.
If the answer is NO go to STEP 3
3. The size of the object is more than 1.5 inches in diameter
If the object is larger than 1.5 inches in diameter, it is unlikely that it would pass further in the small intestine. If your dog appears to be fine and is calm, you can use the following protocol.
Prepare the following mixture and feed to your dog;
- 1/2 -2 cups of cooked squash puree (based on size of dog)
- 1 tablespoon - 1/3 cup (based on amount of squash) of whole flax seed steeped by the same volume of hot water
- small amount of smoked fish or cooked liver for flavor only
To induce vomiting;
- Use three percent hydrogen peroxide
- The dose is one teaspoon per 5 pounds not to exceed 3 tablespoons
- Use a turkey baster, bulb syringe or feeding syringe to administer
- Administer undiluted - not mixed with food or water
- Encourage your dog to walk around
- Can be repeated in 30 minutes ONE time only if your dog does not vomit
You should see vomiting within 30 minutes and hopefully you will be the lucky winner.
If your dog doesn’t throw up and appears fine, go to step 4.
4. The foreign body is smaller than 1.5 inches
If your dog is not vomiting and appears to be fine, feed him the following mixture:
- 50 percent of meat of your choice ( raw or cooked depending on your preference)
- 40 percent cooked squash puree
- 10 percent flax seed steeped with enough hot water to make the whole mixture slimy
Feed this meal for two to three days. Many foreign bodies pass with no problem.
5. If your dog is restless, or vomiting more than once or having diarrhea for more than 24 hours, see your veterinarian.
Note: A foreign body in the stomach often doesn’t cause any obvious problems. Your dog may have normal appetite with occasional vomiting. Intestinal obstructions usually cause lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and signs of discomfort
6. If you know that your puppy or adult dog likes to chew on things, keep it confined in a dog pen when away or in a room free of hazardous objects.
If you are put in a situation where surgery may be needed, never go for an exploratory surgery, unless the foreign body was confirmed. Barium radiographs, ultrasound or endoscopy are the first diagnostic steps that need to be taken. Foreign bodies in the stomach can often be removed endoscopically to avoid the surgical trauma and risks. If you find that your veterinarian is suggesting surgery while your dog appears fine or a foreign body was not confirmed, seek a second opinion.
7. Your dog may be eating objects because he is missing nutrients
I often find that dogs are very good at telling us that there is something missing in their food. Soil depletion in agriculture often causes severe nutritional deficits that manifest in dogs scavenging. The best way to prevent this from happening is to feed wholesome, non processed raw or cooked diet and supplements. Here are the essential supplements that my patients and my dog Skai get.
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Disclosure Statement: Please note that the above information is not intended to replace the care of experienced healthcare provider or treat any medical condition.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM