In today’s VETgirl online veterinary CE blog, we review the top 5 mistakes pet owners and veterinarians make when inducing vomiting in the poisoned patient.

One of the biggest mistakes I see pet owners and veterinary profesionals making when it comes to the poisoned patient: Not knowing the contraindications for emesis induction.

So, when should you not induce vomiting in the poisoned dog or cat? Here, the top 5 situations where you should never induce vomiting:

1) Animals with underlying medical concerns that are predisposed to aspiration pneumonia:

  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Megaesophagus
  • Breeds that like to aspirate (e.g., Irish and Scottish Wolfhounds)
  • Certain breeds (e.g., pug, English bulldog, Shih-Tzu) with supper upper airway disease/brachycephalic syndrome (e.g., elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, everted saccules, and a hypoplastic trachea) may be better candidates for sedation and gastric lavage rather than emesis induction due to the risks of aspiration pneumonia.

Know when it’s appropriate to induce emesis before doing so!

2) Animals that can’t physically vomit

  • Rabbits
  • Ruminants
  • Horses
  • Birds
  • Rodents

3) Caustic or corrosive substances

  • Undiluted drain cleaners
  • Toilet bowl cleaners
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Concentrated sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
  • Lye products

These agents can result in further burns and corrosive injury to the stomach, esophagus, and mouth when vomiting occurs after ingestion.

4) Hydrocarbons and petroleum distillates

  • Gasoline
  • Mineral spirits
  • Fuel
  • Kerosene
  • Furniture polish oils


These low viscosity liquids are very easy to aspirate when the patient vomits; therefore, emesis is contraindicated due to the high risk of aspiration.

5) And… the most common mistake: Symptomatic patients

Patients that are already symptomatic for the toxicosis should never have emesis induced. Certain toxicoses may result in severe sedation, a decreased gag reflex, or reduce the seizure threshold, increasing the risk for aspiration pneumonia during emesis induction. Patients with a lowered seizure threshold have the potential to develop seizures during emesis induction. As the patient is already symptomatic, the toxin has likely been already absorbed, and emesis induction is typically unrewarding.

When in doubt, contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for life-saving advice if needed!


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