It’s never fun when your dog is vomiting, of course. But when your beloved pet throws up yellow liquid, that can be downright scary. Why is this happening? Is a dog throwing up yellow foam a sign of a stomach ulcer, or something else serious? Our dog vomit color guide can help and there’s more information below.
Here is some information on what might be going on with your dog’s body. We’ll also let you know of some signs to look out for that could mean this is a symptom of a bigger problem, and may require medical attention.
What is that Yellow Liquid?
Vomiting in dogs isn’t that uncommon. Throwing up white or yellow liquid isn’t a big deal if it only happens once in a while. But if it happens regularly, your pup might have a problem.
That yellow liquid on your floor is bile. While it might look gross, it’s actually important to a healthy digestive system — for humans and dogs alike.
Yellow bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It breaks down food so it can move through the gastrointestinal tract, or GI tract. It also helps to make sure your pet gets the nutrients they need.1
When the liver produces too much bile, it will often get into the stomach and lead to something called “bilious vomiting.” This is what causes a dog to throw up that watery yellow bile.
Bilious vomiting often happens when your dog hasn’t had food for a few hours, but it can also occur when a dog eats too much fatty food. Vomiting bile can also be a result of drinking too much water or eating more grass than normal.2,3
While bile is usually yellow, it can also be other colors. It can be dark green, brown, or brownish-yellow.4 If it’s another color besides yellow, that should not be a cause for concern.
Should I Worry If My Dog Vomits Bile?
Again, if the vomiting of bile happens repeatedly, that’s when you need to worry.
Here are some of the reasons this might be happening.
1. Bowel Problems
There could be a chance that your pet is suffering from irritation of the GI tract.
Now, there’s a chance that your dog’s food might be contributing to the problem. Some dogs have a hard time digesting certain ingredients, such as grains and fillers. If you suspect this is the issue, consider changing your dog’s food to one that doesn’t have any grains, fillers, or by-products.5 Your vet will probably have some good recommendations.
Also, have your vet check to see if your dog has food allergies, which can sometimes lead to bowel issues. Your vet can also help you determine this.
Soothing a Dog’s Upset Stomach
Your vet may want to conduct some tests to determine the cause of your dog’s upset stomach. They may want to perform fecal examinations, blood tests, or x-rays to find the best way to help your dog.
A high fiber diet might help bring relief. Your vet may also recommend a hypoallergenic brand of dog food. It could take anywhere from two to three months, though, to see if this diet will work. You won’t be able to give your dog any treats or other kinds of food during this time.
Medications are sometimes effective as well. Antibiotics can help, as can probiotics. Probiotics are supplements containing “good” bacteria that help balance out harmful bacteria in the GI tract — which may help relieve some of your dog’s issues.6
2. Pancreatic Issues
If your pet is suffering from chronic vomiting of bile, they might have an issue affecting the pancreas. This is more likely if your dog’s meal usually consists of oily or greasy food. Vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, and fever are a few of the symptoms. Throwing up clear or white foam is another sign.7
Addressing a Problem Pancreas
If your dog’s pancreatitis is mild, your vet may recommend fasting until vomiting stops. This will help the pancreas “rest” so it can heal on its own.
If your dog is not throwing up, a low-fat diet may be recommended.
Medications are available to help reduce pain. Fluids may be given to lower the risk of your dog becoming dehydrated. Antibiotics may be used to fight infection. Other medications may be needed to reduce vomiting or diarrhea.
If your dog has pancreatitis, you can expect your pup to be in the hospital for a couple of days. As long as you get prompt treatment for your dog, the chances of a full recovery are good.8
3. Something is Lodged in Your Pet’s Stomach
Unfortunately, dogs are notorious for eating things they shouldn’t. This could be something out of the garbage, part of a toy, or a stick from the yard. Sometimes, a foreign body can become stuck in the stomach and intestines. A blockage is a serious problem that needs to be addressed quickly.
Dogs with an intestinal obstruction will often throw up yellow foam – in some cases, for quite a while. This is happening because your pet’s meal can’t get past the blockage. That meal will come back up as vomit.
Other symptoms of an obstruction include loss of appetite, dehydration, and abdominal pain. If you notice any of these signs, get to the vet.9
Dealing With an Intestinal Obstruction
In many instances, an obstruction will be small. It will eventually pass through the digestive system. If it doesn’t, your vet will determine the safest and most effective way to remove the blockage.
Your vet may perform an endoscopy to find the exact location of the obstruction. This involves the insertion of a thin tube with a small camera attached. An endoscopy tube can also be outfitted with a tiny tool that can remove a small obstruction.
If the object is too large to pass, surgery may be needed.10
Preventing an Intestinal Blockage
It’s almost impossible to keep your dog from eating things they find in the backyard. After all, dogs will be dogs. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it, unless you keep your pup locked inside all day. That’s no fun for anybody.
But you can take a few steps to reduce the risk of an obstruction:
- Look around your home and pick up any small objects your dog could eat.
- Keep the garbage can securely closed.
- When you take your pet for a walk, be on the lookout for anything they could easily swallow.11
4. Sores on the Stomach Lining
A dog throwing up yellow foam can sometimes be a sign of a stomach ulcer. This is a very serious condition that can affect puppies as well as adult dogs. It can result in acute vomiting and weight loss. Other symptoms include fever, abdominal pain or swelling, mucus in the stool and pale gums.
Dogs may also develop gastroduodenal ulcer disease.
This is an ulcer that forms either in the stomach or a part of the small intestine known as the duodenum. One of the leading causes is accidental poisoning. But it can also occur due to a reaction to medications.
Treatment typically involves giving fluids to ward off dehydration. A blood transfusion will be needed if bleeding is severe. In some cases, surgery will be required.12
5. GI Tract Inflammation
Like irritable bowel disease, gastroenteritis involves inflammation of the GI tract. There are a lot of different causes, including parasites, viruses, and medications. In some instances, a dog can develop the condition when being switched to a new diet.
Symptoms include vomiting yellow foam (especially on an empty stomach) and diarrhea. Diarrhea will typically occur several times a day and in large volumes. Dry heaving can also occur after feeding time. Lethargy and appetite loss may also occur.
A vet will likely recommend one of several treatment options for gastroenteritis. One is intravenous, or IV, fluid, to rehydrate the dog. An IV also helps balance potassium, sodium, and other electrolytes. Antibiotics may be administered, as well as antidiarrheal and anti-vomiting medications.13
6. Liver Problems
If your dog is throwing up yellow foam, he or she might have a liver problem. The liver is one of the most vital organs in your dog’s body (and a human’s body, for that matter). It plays a lot of critical roles, including keeping the blood free of toxins.
The liver also stores vitamins and makes it possible to digest food. It even produces the proteins needed for blood clotting.14
When to See the Vet
If you notice any blood when your dog is vomiting, get them to the vet as quickly as you can. There are other signs you will need to get immediate medical attention for your pet. Here are a few of them:
- Your pet throws up after drinking water.
- Vomiting occurs more than three times per hour and lasts for more than a day.
- The dog is showing signs of lethargy or pain.
- You see bloody diarrhea.
- You notice projectile vomiting.
- Your dog is either very old or very young.15
If you have any reason at all to be concerned about your pet’s health, don’t hesitate to see a vet. It doesn’t matter what kinds of symptoms your pet may be exhibiting.
Can Spoiled Food Result in Dogs Vomiting Bile?
Vomiting bile can sometimes be the result of your dog getting into something he or she shouldn’t get into. Dogs will often get into the garbage can to find a tasty meal. Unfortunately, that meal can sometimes make them sick. Spoiled food can lead to a condition known as garbage toxicosis, also known as “garbage gut.”
A dog with a “garbage gut” will often have diarrhea – which may sometimes contain blood.
Other symptoms include lethargy, vomiting blood, and abdominal pain.
Spoiled food is one of the common sources of garbage gut, but it’s not the only one. Dogs can get it from feeding on dead animals or from feces. They can also get it from having a food intolerance, or from eating harmless table scraps.
Thankfully, the chances for a full recovery are good if your pet gets treatment as soon as possible.16
Is Your Dog’s Diet Contributing to the Problem?
Different dogs react to a diet in different ways. Sometimes, a dog just has a tummy that can’t handle a certain diet. There are certain ingredients in food that some dogs can’t digest properly.
If your dog is vomiting regularly, talk to your vet about a diet change. They’ll be able to recommend high-quality food to give your pup the nutrients they need. Your vet will also be able to give you a plan to transition your pet to the new food.
Are Raw Fed Dogs Healthier?
A raw diet can sometimes increase the risk of vomiting yellow foam. But many dog owners swear by it. They believe their dogs are healthier as a result. Is there evidence that this is the case? Can a raw diet improve the health of a dog’s liver and other organs?
Well, the jury is still out when it comes to this type of diet. There isn’t a lot of evidence saying that a raw diet delivers health benefits. A lot of dogs have raw meals without issues. Others have relatively minor problems, such as increased gas.
As long as a raw diet meets nutritional guidelines, it should be fine. In fact, many raw foods are rich in nutrients you wouldn’t find in other kinds of commercial pet foods. If you have any doubts, feel free to get your vet’s opinion.
Be Alert, But Don’t Panic
Now, there are some serious potential reasons your dog is throwing up yellow liquid. But just because your dog vomits bile, that doesn’t mean you need to fear the worst. Again, most of the time, this problem is not caused by anything serious.
If you’re worried about your pup’s health, don’t panic. It’s better to be safe than sorry; when in doubt, take your dog to the vet.
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