Inducing Vomiting

One common “error” we see among veterinarians is not knowing when not to induce emesis. Remember, if the patient is already symptomatic (i.e., ataxic, depressed, seizuring, etc.), emesis-induction is likely too late (but check with a poison control first, as sometimes gastric lavage is still recommended). If a product contains a hydrocarbon (like gasoline, kerosene, brake fluid), emesis in typically contraindicated due to the high risks of aspiration pneumonia. Finally, corrosive agents (like drain cleaners, lime-away agents, etc.) cause corrosive damage going down – and coming back up – the esophagus, and patients who ingested these shouldn’t have emesis induced. When in doubt, check with a poison control to make sure it’s warranted before you reach for that bottle of apomorphine.

Here are a few contraindications for inducing vomiting (this list is not all-inclusive, and appropriate medical assessment must be made of the patient):

  • Symptomatic from toxicity
  • Hydrocarbon ingestion
  • Corrosive product ingestion
  • Unable to adequately protect the airway (i.e., megaesophagus, laryngeal paralysis, sedation, etc.)
  • Patient is already vomiting
  • Severe brachycephalic syndrome or disease
  • When in doubt, check with Pet Poison Helpline® to see if emesis-induction is warranted