Apomorphine in Dogs

by Catherine Troiano
    Apomorphine can save your dog from the toxicity of dietary indiscretions.

    Apomorphine can save your dog from the toxicity of dietary indiscretions.

    Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Substances that are toxic to your dog can lurk throughout the home and yard. Dogs have a knack for discovering, investigating and nibbling the very things that they should not ingest. If you ever witness your canine companion gulp down something that you suspect could be hazardous to his health, bring him to the veterinarian immediately to remove the offending substance from his tummy before serious damage is done.

    What Went In Must Come Out

    From chocolate, raisins and nuts to rat bait, household cleaners and poisonous backyard mushrooms, different substances can all have varying levels of toxicity in your dog. Depending on what your dog consumed, your veterinarian may want him to vomit the ingested substance as soon as possible in an attempt to avert detrimental effects. Vomiting within 2 to 3 hours after ingestion of the toxin is the ideal time frame to ensure the most favorable outcome. Veterinarians have several options in their drug cabinets to make this happen. These drugs that induce vomiting, called emetics, usually evacuate 40 to 60 percent of the stomach contents. One of the methods used to induce vomiting in dogs is the administration of an opiate drug called apomorphine.

    The Drug of Choice

    Apomorphine is the emetic of choice among many veterinarians for use in dogs. It works by directly stimulating the receptors of the central nervous system to induce vomiting. Apomorphine can be injected intravenously or subcutaneously. It can also be administered orally, and another option is topical application to the conjunctiva of the eye. The intravenous route yields the most rapid response, but any route should result in vomiting within 5 to 20 minutes. The induction effect lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Unless your dog has consumed food within the two hours prior to his veterinary visit, he will likely be fed a small meal prior to administering the apomorphine to help facilitate the desired result.

    Side Effects of Apomorphine

    Many of the other drugs traditionally used to induce vomiting carry the potential for some adverse side effects. Ipecac syrup can result in cardiotoxicity, and xylazine can lead to central nervous system depression and a drop in blood pressure. Since apomorphine acts on the central nervous system, depression of such can also occur with this drug. Other effects may include excitement or lethargy, prolonged nausea, compromised muscle coordination and reduced respiratory rate. These effects occur more commonly when apomorphine in administered intravenously, but they are seen in less than 20 percent of dogs treated with apomorphine. An injection of another drug, called naloxone, can reverse any severe effects that are observed.

    Leave Decisions Up to the Professional

    Never induce vomiting at home without consulting your veterinarian first. Caustic or acidic agents, such as cleaning products, can increase the risk of chemical burns when vomited. Sharp objects, such as bones, pins or shards of hard plastic, can perforate tissues along the way if vomited. Alert your veterinarian to exactly what your canine companion lapped or devoured, and follow the doctor’s recommendations. Certain pre-existing conditions in your dog, as well as some medications, may also be contraindicative of induced vomiting. It is always best to bring your dog to the veterinary clinic where he can be thoroughly assessed for signs of toxicity. If induction of vomiting is the recommended course, a safe dosage of the emetic will be given and your furry friend will be monitored closely by your veterinarian until the crisis has passed.

    Photo Credits

    • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Based on Long Island, Catherine Troiano has been writing pet-related articles since 2011. As a former veterinary technician of more than 10 years, she has amassed extensive knowledge and is versed in an array of health topics pertaining to cats and dogs.

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