Arts & Life

Pet Patter: Saving your pet’s life, part two: Ingesting poisons

This monthly column is a space for simple, useful directions, tips and information to help you keep your animals safe and happy.

In this continuing series detailing the most common perils that could befall your pet we look at ingestion issues, specifically what do when your pet has eaten something poisonous.

Before we look at when and how to help your pet to throw up, let’s first talk about when NOT to induce vomiting.

  • Do not induce vomiting when your pet has swallowed anything caustic such as bleach because such a substance has burned the throat going down and will cause more pain coming up
  • Do not induce vomiting if your animal has ingested a petroleum based product
  • Do not induce vomiting if your pet is unconscious or very weak, as they will often choke and/or asphyxiate
  • Do not induce vomiting if it has been over two hours, as digestion has begun, so it won’t help
  • Do not induce vomiting if your pet has already thrown up

If your pet has consumed antifreeze, induce vomiting immediately. For all other substances, call your vet, or the Animal Poison Control Centre: 888-426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680 for clarification. They charge a small fee, but they are open seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Attempting to make your pet throw up can be dangerous, so do not proceed without a clear go-ahead from a professional.

Acquaint yourself with potentially toxic foods that your animal may have eaten. These are human foods, which though perfectly safe for us, can be harmful to your pet (grapes, raisins, chocolate and others).

To help your pet to vomit you will need hydrogen peroxide on hand, so I recommend you purchase a bottle (available at any drug store) so you are prepared for a crisis before the crisis arrives. Make sure the hydrogen peroxide is 3% and no more. This is important, as too high of a concentration could harm your pet. While you are there, purchase a syringe too. A turkey baster can also be used.

The dose required is one teaspoon for every ten pounds of body weight. Dogs will sometimes take this voluntarily if mixed in with honey or ice cream, and with cats or reluctant dogs put a dose in the syringe and squirt into their mouth and down their throat.

Keep both dogs and cats up and moving to facilitate absorption. You can pat or gently shake their tummy too. Vomiting should occur within fifteen minutes and, if it does not, you can repeat the process, but only once. If, after the second try, your pet has still not vomited, call your vet or one of the poison control hotlines for further instructions.

If you do not know what your pet has eaten, but have been advised to induce vomiting, then collect a small amount and take sample to vet, along with your animal, to make sure all is well and, if not, continue further treatment. In all cases, whether your pet has vomited or not, bring your animal to the vet ASAP.

Next month I will teach you what to do when your pet is choking. I am proud of you, reader, for taking the time to learn all of these life-saving techniques discussed here and in previous columns. Well done!

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin


Samantha Bennett is a writer and the co-owner of the pet care business Mille Pattes. She can be reached at