Dealing with a sick pet can be frustrating since some of the same symptoms can be signs of a serious condition or a less serious illness. Vomiting is one such symptom, as it can be a sign of illness or simply that your dog has eaten something that upset their stomach. Paying careful attention to what and when your dog eats as well as how, what, and when your dog vomits can help you and your veterinarian determine the cause of the problem.
Causes of vomiting in dogs
Dog vomiting can have several causes. Common reasons could be something as benign as your pet eating something their tummy couldn't handle, or it could indicate a serious illness. Pay attention when your dog vomits because they won't be able to tell you that they're not feeling well.
Video of the Day
A dog vomiting can be a symptom of several serious conditions, such as bloat, gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), Addison's disease, parvovirus, inflammatory bowel disease, an intestinal blockage, pancreatitis, or tumors, or it could be sign of something less serious, such as parasites or an upset stomach. By carefully observing your dog's throw up, which is by no means a fun task, you may be able to figure out if your dog simply ate something weird or needs an immediate trip to the veterinarian.
Why do dogs vomit yellow foam?
When your dog is vomiting yellow foam or fluid, this is a sign that they are vomiting bile and there may not be much else in the dog's stomach. Since there are many possible causes for your dog to be vomiting on an empty stomach, it is important to take note of when and how often it occurs. If you start to notice other symptoms, such as loss of appetite or a yellow tinge to your dog's gums, eyes, or skin, or if they seem to be in pain or uncharacteristically lethargic, you should call the veterinarian right away.
Possible reasons for a dog vomiting yellow fluid include:
- An empty stomach: Some dogs vomit when they're very hungry, as gastric acids can irritate the stomach lining when no food is present.
- Consuming something yellow: Occasionally, a dog might eat something yellow and be unable to digest it, causing them to throw up.
- Food sensitivities or allergies: Dogs can vomit yellow bile if they consume something their stomach cannot tolerate. Some of the most common ingredients that cause tummy troubles in dogs include dairy, beef, chicken, chicken eggs, soy, and wheat gluten. If your canine has a sensitive stomach, they may also vomit yellow bile if you've recently changed their dog food.
- Indigestion: If your dog has eaten something other than dog food or treats, such as cat feces or spoiled food, they might throw up.
- Intestinal blockage: When a dog swallows a foreign object, like a bone or toy, it can block the intestines. After they throw up any remaining food in their stomach, a dog might vomit yellow bile. Intestinal blockage is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.
- Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This typically occurs after eating rich, fatty foods or after corticosteroid administration.
- Bilious vomiting syndrome: Stomach irritation caused by bile can cause this condition, also known as reflux gastritis. It's most common in older dogs and typically occurs in the morning before breakfast.
- Systemic illness: Systemic illnesses, including kidney and liver disease, can cause nausea and vomiting yellow bile.
- Toxin exposure: Dogs may vomit yellow bile after consuming a toxic substance, such as chocolate, grapes and raisins, xylitol, a toxic plant, or medications. If you think your dog has eaten something toxic, call your veterinarian right away.
What to do when your dog is vomiting yellow bile
Examine the throw up and note whether there is any food present, what its consistency is, and whether or not there is any blood in the secretions. Blood can be a sign that your dog has a stomach ulcer, which requires immediate attention from a DVM.
- Think about your dog's eating habits. Think about their eating habits over the last day. Did they just eat, or have they gone for quite some time without a meal? Some dogs are prone to vomiting when their stomach is empty. Have they eaten anything out of the ordinary?
- Monitor your dog's behavior. Watch your canine's behavior. If they don't want to eat or act more tired than usual, there might be a more serious reason for their throwing up yellow bile. Vomiting combined with diarrhea can be a sign of inflammatory bowel disease. Pancreatitis can cause lack of appetite, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration in addition to vomiting. Keep close tabs on them for at least 24 hours to determine if they're acting normal or not. If your dog has vomited multiple times in a day, don't wait. Consider it an emergency and take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
- Examine your dog. Feel your dog's tummy and nose. Does it seem like they have abdominal pain? Do they feel extra hot like they have a fever? A fever signifies a more serious condition that a veterinarian should handle.
- Keep track of how often your dog is vomiting. Pay attention to how many times the dog has vomited. Throwing up yellow bile more than once in 24 hours can be an indication of something more severe than if it occurs only once per day. If your dog is a deep-chested breed that is prone to gastric dilatation volvulus
(GDV), consider any dry heaving or unproductive vomiting an emergency and consult with a DVM right away.
- See your DVM. Visit your veterinarian if the vomiting doesn't resolve on its own or if your pet has any other symptoms. Be sure to give your veterinarian as much information as possible about the illness to aid in their diagnosis.
Treatment for dogs vomiting yellow bile
The treatment for a dog vomiting yellow bile depends on the cause. Your veterinarian will examine your dog and look at their medical history. Tell your veterinarian about their current diet, including any new food or treats, and their medications. If you think they might have eaten something they shouldn't have eaten, be it cat litter, chemicals, or something foul off the street, tell your DVM.
Based on their preliminary findings, your veterinarian might take diagnostic tests, such as blood and urine testing, X-rays, or an ultrasound. Once they have determined why your dog is vomiting yellow fluid, they will suggest a treatment plan based on your pet's condition. That may include hospitalization.
If your dog has a food allergy or sensitive stomach, your veterinarian might recommend changing dog food. If your dog vomits yellow fluid in the mornings before breakfast, your DVM might also suggest giving your pet a snack before bed to buffer the stomach with food to prevent stomach acid from irritating the stomach lining. If your dog has an intestinal obstruction, on the other hand, your veterinarian might need to perform an endoscopy or emergency surgery to remove the object from the digestive tract. And if your dog has ingested poison, your veterinarian will follow the protocol to remove that particular toxin.
Your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-nausea medication, antacids, or a gastrointestinal tract (GI) protectant. Because vomiting can cause problems like dehydration and electrolyte deficiencies, your veterinarian might need to address these as well. For severe dehydration, intravenous or subcutaneous fluids might be necessary.
How to prevent vomiting in dogs
It's not always possible to prevent vomiting in dogs if, for instance, it is a result of an underlying illness. But you can reduce the risk.
Prevent your dog from licking, chewing, or eating items they should not ingest, including trash, fatty foods, roadkill, kitty litter, and toxic plants and substances. Feed them a well-rounded diet and talk to your veterinarian before making any changes. If your dog tends to devour bones and chew toys, keep a close eye on them when they're chewing or playing.
Take your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year for a wellness checkup and to ensure they're up to date on vaccinations. If your dog exhibits any unusual behaviors, don't wait until their next appointment. Call your veterinarian to schedule a visit.
The bottom line
A dog vomiting yellow bile isn't necessarily unusual nor is it always cause for concern. But if your dog vomits more than once in a day; vomits for several days; or exhibits other symptoms, like lethargy, diarrhea, or yellow-tinged gums or skin, talk to your veterinarian. Also call your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog has ingested a toxin or foreign object, as this constitutes a pet health emergency.