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Why Is My Dog Vomiting Yellow?

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What dog owner hasn’t experienced that oh-so-special early morning wakeup call of stepping her foot in dog puke? If you’re like me, you first recoil in disgust but then inevitably end up on your hands and knees examining the offending puddle for clues as to why your dog is throwing up. The vomit in question is often foamy or watery, and yellow in color. So, what does a dog vomiting yellow mean?

Dog vomiting yellow? Here’s why

A beagle or hound dog looking sick and under the weather.
Is your dog vomiting yellow? There could be a few reasons why. Photography by Igor Normann/Shutterstock.

That yellow stuff is actually your dog vomiting bile. “Bile is produced by the liver and aids in the digestive process,” explains Tracey Jensen, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, medical director at Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Wellington, Colorado. “Bile is normal, but it’s not normal to vomit bile. The bile itself, if it’s produced excessively, can be a cause of vomiting.” 

Why is your dog vomiting bile? What is bilious vomiting syndrome?

I asked Dr. Jensen about my own dog, Jäger, who occasionally vomits bile if he goes too long without eating. It usually happens in the morning if I fed him dinner earlier than usual and forget to give him breakfast right away. I once Googled it and discovered the term bilious vomiting syndrome. In dogs, bilious vomiting syndrome is vomiting as a reaction to inflammation caused by bile in the stomach. Dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome tend to throw up in the morning after they haven’t eaten in a while. I wondered if that could be what causes my dog’s weird early-morning barfing.

“It’s one of the things on a very long list of 1,001 reasons why a dog will vomit,” Dr. Jensen says, “and it certainly can be that a particular pet produces enough acid on an empty stomach that it will trigger vomiting. That is something that can be managed by a regular feeding schedule or even antacids.”

Now that I know that Jäger seems to do better with food in his stomach, I try to make sure I feed him his breakfast and dinner at the same time every day. If for some reason I have to feed his dinner early, I’ll give him a biscuit right before bed and that usually does the trick.

Is your dog throwing up yellow a cause for concern?

One thing to know — your dog vomiting yellow may be a symptom of something serious. If your dog vomits, even occasionally, he should be seen by your vet to make sure it’s nothing that requires treatment. “It takes more of a trigger for a dog to vomit than most people,” Dr. Jensen says. “If a dog has started vomiting, usually there’s something that triggered that and the possible causes for vomiting in dogs is quite an extensive list.”

Your vet will do a complete physical exam and might recommended certain tests to look for common causes of vomiting. According to Dr. Jensen, vomiting can be caused by certain parasites, various organ issues, hormonal disturbances and food sensitivity.

Should you take your dog to the vet if he is puking yellow?

It’s hard to know when to bring your dog to the vet and when to take a wait-and-see approach. If there is a problem than needs to be addressed, waiting too long can lead to a more severe issue and could cost you more in the long run.

“Pets can’t speak,” Dr. Jensen says. “All we really have to go on are these physical symptoms. If something is occurring in your pet that has never happened before, pick up the phone and make a call. Even if it’s just a one-time thing. If nothing else, it will then get noted in your pet’s file in case it does develop into a trend.”

Thumbnail: Photography by Shutterstock.

Read more about dog vomiting issues on Dogster.com:

18 thoughts on “Why Is My Dog Vomiting Yellow?”

  1. Pingback: Por que meu cachorro vomita espuma branca? – atualizado abril 2020

  2. We have been going through this off and on with our 1 1/2 year old female westie. She would eat twice a day, but often woke up and would immediately spit up yellow foam/bile & refuse her feeding. Finally we started giving her a small extra feeding prior to bedtime (usually just a couple of dog biscuits) in the evening a couple of hours before she went to bed and she’s not thrown up in the morning anymore and wakes up feeling good & hungry. We moved her to a fish based kibble which is suppose to help with digestive problems. I’m watching her weight to be sure the nightly feeding doesn’t cause her to gain weight. Her energy level seems to have increased too!

  3. Hi

    My 13 year old greyhound has been vomiting on and off . yellow fluid for 2 weeks now, he us very lethargic. Not eating or drinking. Losing weight. Has been to the vets and blood tests are ok.

    Any advice would be welcomed.

    1. Dogster Admin

      Hi Julie,
      Please stay in contact with your vet! These articles might help provide some insight, too:
      https://www.dogster.com/dog-health-care/dog-vomiting
      https://www.dogster.com/dog-health-care/dehydration-in-dogs

  4. Pingback: How to Make a Dog Vomit | Dog Traing Info

  5. Jeraldine Estrada

    Mu little dog is puking a yellowish color and she don’t want to eat. What will we do? ????

  6. Pingback: Dog Health Topics | Jackie Brown – Writer, Editor, Pet Expert

  7. I have a question about a different problem that my female pitbull has going on her back legs they are swollen and reddish with bumps of fliuds they are on the outside of the legs. Could this because by hot spots and fleas over the summer it was 100+degrees and thats when this started I like any information you can give me thank you.

  8. My name is Tiffany and I’m a small animal veterinarian. This is a very general symptom and there are a lot of things that can cause a dog to vomit, from the most common things what we call dietary indiscretion or your pet gets something that he shouldn’t and has a stomach upset or medically known as gastroenteritis. He can get a gastroenteritis just from eating even table foods and things like that. Diseases like pancreatitis can cause intense pain in the abdomen and vomiting and that’s caused by an over stimulation of the pancreas.

    There are diseases that are not as serious like bio reflux diseas where the bile is normally dumped into the small intestine and goes downstream but on an empty stomach may come upstream and that’s solved sometimes by just feeding more meals during the day.

    There are more serious causes of vomiting, in the young dogs we always worry about an obstruction. I take out a lot of articles that clothing from dogs stomachs and intestines during the first couple of years of life. That’s why it’s so important to protect your clothing and protect your dog from getting into trouble

    There are ofcourse lots and lots of other causes of dog vomiting, sometimes liver disease, sometimes kidney disease can cause vomiting. So it’s important to bring your companions to the vet to do a complete exam as soon as you can.

    1. Is there any treatment for the mean time for my dog? It is night time and hes vomiting. I’m too scared. I can go to the vet tomorrow.

        1. Please take a dog who is vomiting to the vet! Here is more information on dog vomiting: https://www.dogster.com/dog-health-care/dog-vomiting

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