Urgent Care

Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Yellow Bile?

Picture this: you walk in after a long day, ready to greet your pup with a scratch behind the ears. Instead, you find them looking down and out, with a bright yellow mess on the floor. It’s enough to make any dog owner’s heart sink. Yellow vomit can be confusing and concerning, but don’t panic! 

This guide will explore the reasons why your dog might be throwing up yellow liquid, and more importantly, offer solutions to get them back to feeling better.

A homemade bland diet recipe is included at the end of this post.

 

Decoding the Yellow: What is Bile and Why Does My Dog Throw Up It?

Before we delve into the reasons behind the vomiting, let’s take a quick trip to digestion doghouse.  Your dog’s liver produces a greenish-yellow fluid called bile.

This amazing substance acts like a natural detergent, breaking down fats in the small intestine to help with digestion and nutrient absorption. Bile is then stored in the gallbladder until it’s needed.

Now, when your dog throws up yellow bile, it usually means their stomach is irritated and emptying its contents.  This yellowish fluid you see is a combination of stomach acid and bile that has backed up from the small intestine. 

The vomit might be foamy, watery, or even slightly mucousy, depending on what else was in their stomach.

What Are The Causes of Bile Vomiting?

So, we’ve established that yellow bile vomit isn’t the actual bile itself, but rather a sign of an irritated stomach.  But what could be causing this irritation? 

The answer, unfortunately, isn’t always straightforward. 

There’s a range of reasons, some more concerning than others.  Let’s explore the potential culprits behind your dog’s technicolor toss-up:

Dietary Indiscretion or Intolerance (MOST COMMON)

What it is: Dogs may eat things they shouldn’t (like a banana peel or sock) or have trouble digesting certain foods (like bacon), leading to stomach upset.

Symptoms: Vomiting yellow bile, possibly with other signs like diarrhea or abdominal discomfort.

Treatment: Remove access to the offending food or substance. Offer a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice to soothe the stomach.

Intestinal Blockages

What it is: Objects or materials can block the intestinal tract (like a corn cob), preventing proper digestion and causing vomiting.

Symptoms: Persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, or constipation.

Treatment: Seek veterinary care immediately for evaluation and possible surgical intervention to remove the blockage.

Food Allergies

What it is: Some dogs may be allergic to ingredients like chicken, beef, or pork in their food, leading to digestive issues and vomiting.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, itching, or skin rashes.

Treatment: Identify and eliminate the allergen from your dog’s diet. Transition to hypoallergenic or novel protein diets as recommended by your vet.

Pancreatitis or Gastroenteritis

What it is: Inflammation of the pancreas or intestines can cause digestive upset and vomiting.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy.

Treatment: Provide supportive care at home, including fasting followed by a bland diet and plenty of water. Severe cases may require veterinary treatment like antinausea medication and IV fluids.

Gastrointestinal Diseases

What it is: Chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), liver or kidney disease, and stomach cancer can lead to vomiting and inappetence.

Symptoms: Recurrent vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or poor appetite.

Treatment: Consult your vet for diagnosis and management. Treatment may include dietary changes, medication, and lifestyle adjustments.

Bilious Vomiting Syndrome:

What it is: A condition where bile accumulates in the stomach, leading to vomiting, especially in the morning or on an empty stomach.

Symptoms: Yellow bile vomiting, often in the morning or after prolonged fasting.

Treatment: Offer small, frequent meals throughout the day to prevent bile accumulation. Consider feeding a bedtime snack to avoid overnight fasting.

Addison’s Disease

What it is: A hormonal disorder affecting the adrenal glands, which can lead to vomiting and other symptoms.

Symptoms: Vomiting, weakness, lethargy, and decreased appetite.

Treatment: Requires diagnostic testing and ongoing management with daily medication.

Toxins

What it is: Ingestion of toxic substances like certain plants, household chemicals, or medications can cause vomiting.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, or seizures.

Treatment: Contact your veterinarian or a poison control hotline immediately for guidance. Treatment may include inducing vomiting, supportive care, or specific antidotes.

Eating Grass

What it is: Some dogs may eat grass as a natural behavior, but it can sometimes lead to vomiting.

Symptoms: Vomiting, particularly after consuming grass.

Treatment: Monitor your dog’s grass-eating behavior and consider redirecting their attention with toys or providing safe alternatives for chewing.

Intestinal Parasites

What it is: Worms or other parasites in the intestines can cause digestive upset and vomiting.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or a potbellied appearance.

Treatment: Consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and appropriate deworming treatment.

Home Remedies for Dogs Throwing Up Yellow Bile

  1. Provide access to fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration.
  2. Offer a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice in small amounts to soothe the stomach.
  3. Monitor your dog closely for signs of improvement or worsening symptoms.
  4. Contact your veterinarian if vomiting persists or if your dog shows other concerning symptoms.

bowl of rice bland diet for dogs

When To Worry and Seek Veterinary Care

Knowing when to seek veterinary care for your dog’s vomiting is vital in ensuring their health and well-being. While occasional vomiting may not always be a cause for alarm, certain symptoms indicate a need for immediate attention from a veterinarian. Here are specific symptoms that warrant a vet visit:

  • Repeated Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in Vomit
  • Abdominal Pain: Signs of abdominal discomfort such as whining, restlessness, or guarding the abdomen may indicate a serious underlying issue that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian.
  • Fever: A high body temperature (over 103°F or 39.4°C)
dog standing on metal table

What To Expect At The Vet

If your dog is throwing up yellow bile, a visit to the veterinarian can help determine the cause and get your furry friend feeling better.

Here’s what you can expect during the appointment:

Examination

The vet will likely begin with a thorough physical examination. This may involve checking your dog’s temperature, heart rate, and breathing. They will also gently feel your dog’s abdomen to assess for any pain or abnormalities.

Hydration Assessment

The vet will evaluate your dog’s hydration status. Signs of dehydration can include dry gums, lethargy, and sunken eyes.

Diagnostic Tests

Depending on your dog’s symptoms and the vet’s findings, they may recommend diagnostic tests:

  • Lab work (such as complete blood counts and serum chemistries) to evaluate systemic status and rule in or rule out organ involvement.
  • Resting cortisol (adrenal function testing) test to screen for Addison’s disease.
  • Abdominal radiographs (x-rays). Three-view x-rays of the abdomen are a great initial screening test. These may show evidence of a stomach or intestinal blockage, foreign material or an abdominal tumor.
  • Abdominal ultrasound, which is a more advanced diagnostic test usually performed by specialists in a referral hospital or via mobile ultrasonography. This can give more information on the appearance of all organs, bowel thickness, bowel contents, presence of free abdominal fluid, the appearance of the pancreas, or evidence of abdominal inflammation (peritonitis).
  • Chest x-rays to check the esophagus and for possible aspiration pneumonia in patients with regurgitation or protracted vomiting.
  • cPL test to check for pancreatitis.
  • Infectious disease testing and fecal ova or parasite testing.

Treatment

The vet will determine the best course of treatment based on the diagnosis. This might involve medication to stop the vomiting and In some cases, intravenous fluids may be necessary to combat dehydration.

Home Care

The vet will provide you with specific instructions for caring for your dog at home. This may include an easily digestible diet and plenty of fluids and rest for the next few days.

It’s important to follow the veterinarian’s advice closely to ensure your dog’s health and well-being.

Preventing Yellow Bile Vomiting

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent your dog from throwing up yellow bile:

Offer regular meals at consistent times throughout the day helps regulate your dog’s digestion and keeps their stomach from getting too empty.

If you need to switch your dog’s food, do it gradually over a week or so to avoid upsetting their stomach. Sudden dietary shifts can be a recipe for yellow vomit.

Keep your dog away from potential toxins, like household cleaners or human medications. Also, be mindful of inedible objects they might try to munch on, like toys with small parts. These can irritate their digestive system and lead to vomiting.

Summing It Up

While occasional vomiting of yellow bile might seem like a minor issue, it’s important to remember there can be a variety of underlying causes. This guide has explored some of the reasons why this might happen, from dietary issues to more serious conditions.

If your dog throws up yellow bile and you’re concerned, especially if they have other symptoms, a visit to the veterinarian is always recommended. Early detection and treatment can greatly benefit your dog’s health.

The good news is that most dogs recover well from yellow bile vomiting with proper diagnosis and treatment. By being aware of the potential causes and taking preventative measures, you can help keep your dog happy and healthy, with a settled stomach and a wagging tail!

DOWNLOAD MY BLAND DIET FOR DOGS RECIPE HERE!

Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.

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