How to induce vomiting in dogs to avoid surgery
Few dog parents can claim their canine companion hasn’t eaten something they shouldn’t have at least once in their life.
In my practice, I saw many dogs that had eaten the strangest things, including a fine china plate, ten golf balls, and a corn cob. So when a friend called me one day saying his dog Barkley had eaten a mango pit, I wasn’t surprised, but I knew it could become life-threatening if it led to a blockage.
This wasn’t the first time Barkley had eaten a mango pit, but this time it stayed in his stomach for more than a week and I learned about the situation when my friend’s local vet recommended surgery. Naturally, my friend wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of abdominal surgery, so he called me to see if there was anything else he could do to avoid it.
A mango pit is large and flat, which was good news, because it meant that it was unlikely for it to pass from the stomach further down into the small intestine. But I also knew that if we made Barkley throw up the mango pit could potentially get stuck in the esophagus. So, we needed to make the mango pit slippery enough to be brought back up without complication.
Throw-up mix recipe that saves lives
I told my friend to cook 2 cups of squash and make a puree of it, then add 1/3 cup of flaxseed steeped in an equal volume of hot water. The steeped flaxseed was the secret to making the whole mixture slimy and slippery enough to help the pit slide out.
After feeding this mixture to Barkley, we also gave him some hydrogen peroxide. When peroxide reacts with stomach juices, it bubbles up, which makes most dogs throw up. (See detailed instructions further down in this article).
My friend was to call me when there was any news, and be ready to see his local vet in the unlikely case the pit got stuck. An hour later, I got a text message, “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 as Barkley didn’t need to go under the knife! Also, one squash, some flaxseed, and a little bit of peroxide are much less expensive than abdominal surgery!
Since I first shared Barkley’s story, many dog lovers in our community have shared with my team and I that the throw-up mix worked for their dogs too. This blog has helped save the lives of dozens of dogs who swallowed inedible objects and allowed their parents to avoid costly surgeries.
It’s important to remember that while prevention is the best for your dog’s health and safety, accidents can still happen, especially as dogs are natural scavengers.
So, if your dog has swallowed something they shouldn’t have, continue reading this article carefully to learn what symptoms you need to be aware of, how to safely induce vomiting in dogs, when you need to see the vet, and what you can do to prevent this from happening next time.
Common symptoms in dogs who swallowed foreign objects
A foreign body in the stomach often doesn’t cause any obvious problems. Your dog may have a normal appetite with occasional vomiting.
However, intestinal obstructions cause more severe symptoms in dogs, including:
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal discomfort and pain
- Straining to defecate
IMPORTANT: If your dog is restless, has vomited more than once, or has had diarrhea for more than 12-24 hours, see your veterinarian. Severe distress requires immediate medical care.
First aid for foreign object ingestion in dogs: When to see a vet
There are three instances when you should contact your vet/ local emergency vet clinic if your dog swallowed a foreign object:
- Your dog ingested something toxic or a poisonous plant
- Your dog has been vomiting repeatedly, has diarrhea for more than one day or appears to behave strangely
- Your dog is drooling, which means the object may be stuck in the esophagus or what they ingested is toxic
Treatment for dogs who swallowed foreign objects: Home remedies and first aid
Situation A: The object your dog ate is in the stomach and is too big to pass through the intestines
If the object your dog swallowed is larger than 1.5 inches in diameter, it’s unlikely to pass further into the small intestine. If your dog appears to be feeling fine and is calm, you can use the following protocol.
Easy steps to make a dog throw up:
- Prepare the following mixture and feed it to your dog. Mix ½ - 2 cups of cooked squash puree (exact quantity is based on the size of your dog) with 1 tablespoon - 1/3 cup (based on the amount of squash) of whole flaxseed steeped in the same volume of hot water and a small amount of smoked fish or cooked liver for flavour.
After you feed the mixture, administer an undiluted dose of 3% hydrogen peroxide orally using a turkey baster, bulb syringe, or feeding syringe. The recommended dosage is 1sp per 5 lbs and should not exceed 9 tsp.
- Encourage your dog to walk around, which will help the hydrogen peroxide mix with the stomach contents and bubble up, inducing vomiting.
If your dog hasn't vomited, the process can be repeated one more time 30 minutes after. You should see vomiting within 30 minutes.
If you are still concerned, or your dog has not vomited, please see your vet.
If the foreign object your dog ate is smaller than 1.5 inches, they are not vomiting and aren’t showing any signs of distress or blockage, prepare and feed the following mixture:
50% meat of your choice (raw or cooked depending on your preference)
40% cooked squash puree
10% flaxseed steeped in enough hot water to make the whole mixture slimy
If your dog shows signs of digestive distress and is vomiting food or bile, see your veterinarian immediately.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If your veterinarian suggests surgery, do not give consent for exploratory surgery unless the foreign body has been confirmed by diagnostic evaluation. Barium radiographs, ultrasound or endoscopy are the first diagnostic steps that need to be taken. There are other causes of vomiting and digestive upset unrelated to a foreign body ingestion, so confirmation of a foreign body is important.
If a foreign object is confirmed, ask if it could be removed endoscopically to avoid surgical trauma and related risks. If your veterinarian suggests surgery when your dog appears to be fine and there is no vomiting or signs of distress, the wait-and-see approach is generally preferred.
If your veterinarian still recommends surgery, seek a second opinion. If endoscopic foreign body removal is an option but your vet is not equipped for the procedure, ask for a referral to a specialist.
How to prevent your dog from swallowing a foreign object
If you have a dog that likes to chew on things or eat things that they shouldn’t, there are several ways to prevent foreign body ingestion:
Supervise your dog when they’re playing or chewing on their toys
Throw away toys that have started to break apart or are worn out
Watch your dog closely when they’re outside
Keep the laundry basket and the trash bin inaccessible or secure at all times
Keep dangerous items or substances out of reach
If you have young children in the house, make sure their toys are stored away
When you’re out of the house and you have a puppy, keep it confined in a crate or a pen until you are sure that your dog is not likely to eat indigestible objects
Keep toxic foods such as raisins and chocolate away from your dog, especially if they have a history of taking things off the table.
Surprising as it might sound, some dogs might also eat inedible objects due to undiagnosed nutrient imbalances. I often find that dogs are great at telling us that something is missing in their diet.
Soil depletion due to intensive agriculture often causes severe nutritional deficits that manifest in dogs as scavenging. The best way to prevent this is to feed a wholesome, non-processed raw or cooked diet and add essential natural supplements for dogs.
Disclaimer: Any information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat any medical condition or substitute veterinary or medical care.
What to do if your dog ingests a foreign object FAQ
What happens if your dog eats a piece of plastic?
Depending on the size of the plastic object your dog swallowed, it may pass through the intestines and be eliminated in the feces, or it may get stuck and cause an intestinal blockage.
If the object is still in the stomach and your dog is feeling fine, you can use natural ways to induce vomiting in dogs by using the protocol in this blog. The steps you choose depend on the size of the object, and your dog's symptoms.
See your veterinarian if your dog develops severe vomiting or diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain after ingesting a foreign object.
How do you know if your dog has a foreign body stuck?
The most common symptoms of intestinal blockage in dogs include vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain and discomfort, and lethargy. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian ASAP.
How do you make a dog throw up after swallowing a foreign object?
You can safely induce vomiting in dogs using undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide using a turkey baster or a syringe. The recommended dosage is 1 tsp per 5 lbs and should not exceed 9 tsp.
What happens if your dog swallows a toy?
If your dog swallowed a whole toy, it could get lodged in the throat and cause choking or get stuck as it passes through the gut, leading to intestinal obstruction. If the toy ends up in the stomach, you can induce vomiting to retrieve the toy using the protocol presented above.
How long after a dog eats a foreign object can you induce vomiting?
In general, you should induce vomiting as soon as possible after your dog swallows the item, ideally within 2-3 hours, but if the object is larger than 1.5 inches, inducing vomiting may help even days after the object is ingested if your dog otherwise appears to be fine.
How long does it take for a dog to throw up a foreign object?
If you’ve given your dog hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, it can take up to 30 minutes for the dog to throw up the object. If your dog doesn’t throw up and doesn’t have any other symptoms, the objects may have passed into the small intestine. Use the protocol above to help your dog pass the object safely.
How long does it take for a dog to poop out a foreign object?
The amount of time it takes for a dog to pass a foreign object out in their feces can vary and depends on the size and type of object, your dog’s digestive system and whether or not the object can cause a blockage. Generally, objects should pass within 48 hours and there should not be any signs of vomiting or diarrhea. It is important to see your veterinarian if you observe such symptoms.
How can I help my dog pass a swallowed object?
If your dog ate a foreign object and isn’t showing any signs of discomfort or blockage, you can help them pass the object using a mixture made up of 50 percent meat of your choice, 40% cooked squash puree, and 10% flaxseed steeped in hot water.
Not all swallowed objects can be safely passed through a dog’s digestive system, so waiting for the object to pass can sometimes be dangerous or even fatal. Immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic if you suspect your dog has ingested something dangerous or toxic.