No, we’re not talking about binge eating then purging delicious holiday meals. We’re talking about protecting your dogs and cats at a time when they will be exposed to lots of dropped food, guests secretly feeding them — certain ingredients can be really bad for them. You’re also going to be busy cooking or entertaining, distracted, not paying attention to your dog or cat, which is the perfect opportunity for them to eat something that’s toxic while your back is turned.
Dogs are scavengers and have the maddening tendency to find and eat the things in their environments that are destined to make them the most sick. Human medications, pet medications, insecticides, cleaning products, fertilizer, weed killer, poisonous plants, pesticides, potentially toxic human foods (e.g., chocolate, grapes/raisins, xylitol).
Cat’s do this too. They’ll snatch stuff they find off the floor, being opportunists. And some aren’t finicky at all when it comes to eating things that are bad for them.
So what steps do you take if you see or suspect your dog or cat has consumed something that’s poisonous to them?
The first thing you should do, cat or dog, is call your Vet. You SHOULD have this number handy. If you don’t, right now, this minute, put it in speed dial/contacts or tack it on the fridge. You can also call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435), or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680). Add your vet’s contact information to your speed dial while you’re at it.
Have the following information ready as possible: your pet’s approximate weight, any health problems the pet suffers from, what he may have eaten, when he may have eaten it, and the amount potentially involved. Follow the directions given to you by the veterinarian you have spoken with.
But what if you’re not able to get to a phone? This is becoming a more rare situation these days, but it can happen. Like when you’re at Aunt Lisa’s house, way out in the country. Or the family cabin.
In an emergency, without the ability to reach a vet or poison control, you must first assess whether or not inducing vomiting is needed. Inducing vomiting is not always recommended — it’s a serious step to take and don’t make this decision on your own lightly because you can make things worse.
Circumstances in which you should not make your pet throw up include:
- When he’s already throwing up. Don’t induce more vomiting in an already vomiting animal, because you can incite a worse vomition response.
- If your pet has lost consciousness and/or if she’s very weak or has trouble standing. Do not induce vomiting in this situation because aspiration pneumonia, which can result when an animal inhales vomit into its lungs, can become a secondary problem.
- If your pet has swallowed bleach, a drain cleaner, or a petroleum distillate. These chemicals can cause burning as they are swallowed, and secondary additional burns as they come back up. Don’t induce vomiting if your pet has swallowed a caustic substance.
- If it has been over two hours since your pet ingested a potential toxin. Once a substance enters your pet’s small intestine, vomiting will not clear the stomach of that toxin. Inducing vomiting in a dog or cat that has already digested a potential toxin won’t be effective in ridding her body of the substance.
Inducing vomiting should be done immediately when:
- Your pet has consumed antifreeze within the last two hours.
- When you’ve called your veterinarian, discussed the specific circumstances around your pet’s swallowing a potential toxin, and your vet instructs you to induce vomiting.
If it’s necessary to induce, you’ll need 3% (three percent) hydrogen peroxide – the kind you purchase at any pharmacy.
*Do not use the stronger, concentrated peroxide found in hair color, use only the three percent kind.*
The dose is one teaspoon (five milliliters, or cc’s) for every 10 pounds of body weight. The maximum amount of hydrogen peroxide to be given at any one time is 45 ml (9 teaspoons), even if a dog weighs over 45 pounds.
The hydrogen peroxide must be given orally (swallow) to your pet.
You can try to mix the hydrogen peroxide with a little honey to make it palatable. The other failsafe method is to use a syringe or turkey baster. Put the syringe down the animal’s throat and dispense the peroxide. With cats, it’s usually easier and more effective to syringe it.
If vomiting has not occurred within 15 minutes or so, give one more dose of hydrogen peroxide measured out as described above. If vomiting still does not occur, call your veterinarian or the pet poison control center/hotline back for instructions. Do not administer a 3rd dose.
Once vomiting has occurred, collect a sample in a leak-proof container.
Bring this to your veterinarian’s office for identification if you are unsure of exactly what your dog may have eaten.
Thoroughly clean up the vomit.
Wear latex or rubber gloves while handling vomit, particularly if it potentially contains a material that is hazardous to humans or to your other pets health.
Immediately Take your dog or cat to a vet clinic.
Unless instructed otherwise by your veterinarian or the pet poison control center/hotline, take the animal to a veterinary clinic immediately for evaluation and continued treatment.
Here are some commonly consumed items that are harmful to pets.