Although vomiting is a familiar symptom of many illnesses, vomiting bile is less common and can indicate something more serious. Bile can be described as a foamy liquid that is most often yellow but can be dark green, yellow-brown or a light yellow. It is a bitter tasting fluid produced by your dog’s liver. It’s goal is to help digest lipids in the small intestine as well as neutralize excess stomach acid before entering the upper intestinal tract. Here are some prevalent causes of vomiting bile:
These are not all of the possible causes of bringing up bile, as vomiting is such a frequently seen symptom and can have an array of reasons for appearing. Expelling bile is not always dangerous, but in some cases, it can be. It is best to not overlook vomiting bile, as it could possibly be caused by something serious.
If your dog vomits bile but appears to have no other alarming symptoms and returns to normal afterwards, taking them to the vet should not be necessary. If they throw up bile twice a week or daily, take them to the vet.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the dog’s pancreas. This can be caused by a high-fat meal, for example allowing him to eat bacon drippings or greasy and oily foods. Other causes include some medications, metabolic disorders, hormonal diseases, genetics and abdominal surgery. Pancreatitis can make your dog sick and can cause abdominal pain, severe vomiting, depression, dehydration, a hunched posture and often a fever or diarrhea. These symptoms will generally arise within 24 to 72 hours after ingesting the meal. Overweight and obese dogs seem to be more at risk, along with certain breeds like Yorkshire Terriers and Schnauzers due to their genetics.
A dog with an intestinal blockage will vomit because the food will not be able to make it past the blockage and will have to come back up. Symptoms of intestinal blockage include repeated vomiting, dehydration, severe abdominal pain, constipation, retching and loss of appetite. Blockages can usually be caused by the swallowing of small items that are impossible to digest, like plastic or rocks, items that are slow to digest, like bones, or objects that are too big to pass through the gut. In older dogs, obstructions can be caused by masses.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease can be triggered by a chronic irritation in the dog’s intestinal tract. This can cause vomiting of bile that will flow into the small intestines. Nutrition, genetics, abnormalities of the immune system and infectious agents can all play a part in causing inflammatory bowel disease. Common signs aside from a dog heaving bile include diarrhea, blood or mucus in the stools, which will occur more frequently but in smaller amounts, and weight loss. In severe cases, your dog can develop a fever, become depressed and refuse to eat.
Bilious Vomiting Syndrome
Your dog can develop bilious vomiting syndrome and begin to consistently throw up bile because they have been on an empty stomach for too long. The stomach will then secrete acid and mucus which will create bile. Since the stomach is empty, there will be nothing to absorb the acid, which will become irritating. Your pet will become nauseated and will start to vomit the bile. This can start to happen if the stomach is empty for around 8 hours or more. This is often more common in middle-aged to older dogs, but no dog is immune.
Dogs who develop pancreatitis will often require prescription food and some antibiotics until they get better. Dogs with intestinal bowel disease may require a higher quality diet that is free of by-products and fillers; a hydrolysed hypoallergenic diet may be advised.
Diagnosis will include a complete blood count, urinalysis and a thorough physical exam.
Treatment will include supplemental fluids if your pet is dehydrated, medication to reduce the amount of vomiting and pain relievers if your dog seems to be experiencing discomfort.
The overall goal is to correct any dehydration, maintain the balance in fluid and electrolytes as well as providing nutritional support. Pancreatitis can be dangerous if not promptly treated, and veterinary intervention is advised. Intestinal blockage will be diagnosed by considering the dog’s history, taking x-rays and a physical examination. The method for getting rid of the blockage will vary depending on the location. In many cases, surgery is a common solution. For small items, mineral oil may help it to pass, and sometimes offering a high-fiber diet every 4-6 hours can help. Objects in the stomach are sometimes removed via an endoscope.
Diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease will require a physical exam, history, laboratory findings, x-rays or ultrasounds, gut biopsies and any other procedures required to rule out other possible illnesses. Management will include dietary changes, immunosuppressant medications, antibiotics and various other therapies. Inflammatory bowel disease can be controlled but not cured completely. Your pet will need a proper diet and medications long-term in order to reduce the symptoms.
Bilious vomiting disease is rarely serious and can be cured, but taking your pet to the vet will still be necessary in case they need medication. Treating this disease may include antacids like cimetidine, famotidine or ranitidine. If your vet suspects bilious vomiting disease, they will want to eliminate any other potential causes of the bile vomiting by doing some blood tests, fecal analyses, and imaging of the gut by doing ultrasounds or endoscopy. If your dog develops gastritis due to long-term exposure to bile, they will most likely require medication.
To prevent vomiting bile, avoid feeding your dogs fatty foods. This can include fat trimmings from the meat that you eat for dinner, which you should never feed to your dog. If your dog is known to eat small objects, prevent them from doing so by monitoring them or keeping small items away from their reach. This will help prevent intestinal blockage.
To help prevent bilious vomiting syndrome, feed your dog smaller and more frequent meals, and sometimes a bedtime and early morning snack. Keep track of the time of day that they seem to be vomiting bile the most often, so you know when they have an empty stomach and require more food. This will keep the stomach active and prevent the vomiting of bile. Giving them a carbohydrate rich meal, such as pasta or boiled rice a few hours before bedtime can also help, as these foods will be slow for the stomach to digest.
Provide your pet with a diet that is healthy and contains all of the required supplements, like vitamins and minerals.
Costs for treating these illnesses vary. Treating pancreatitis will be about $2200 and intestinal obstruction can cost $3000. Finally, inflammatory bowel disease can require $2800 to treat.
1 found helpful
My dog has vomited many times, yesterday and today (about 5 in total). Yesterday it was yellow and foamy. Today it was brown and chunky. The most recent instance, it returned to yellow and foamy. She is not lethargic at all and doesn’t seem to be in pain. We fed her once today, boiled chicken and rice. She has been eating normally.
Sept. 15, 2020
Dr. Michele K. DVM
Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your dog is not feeling well. It is possible that she is affected by intestinal parasites, and infection, or something that she ate that is not agreeing with her. Since she seems bright and happy otherwise, and her appetite is good, it might be a good idea to give her a 12-hour fast and not give her any food for that time frame, she can have water. That may help stop the cycle of her vomiting, and you can feed her a bland diet of boiled white chicken and boiled white rice after that for a couple of days. If she is vomiting while she is being fasted, or the vomiting starts again afterwards, then it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian. I hope that everything goes well for her and she feels better soon.
Sept. 15, 2020
Was this experience helpful?
American Pit Bull Terrier
1 found helpful
Changes: This past Sunday we went away with our two dogs to a Hotel that allows pets and we are staying in a hotel. On Monday at 6pm I had both my 4 year old dogs vaccinated with required Distemper and Bordetella vaccine for daycare. On Tuesday and Wednesday both dogs went to doggie daycare. On Thursday one of the dogs had thrown up alot of her food. At lunch I gave them some steak. Later that night she threw up again but this time the vomit was a yellow foamy slimy consistency. At 8:00 I tried giving her some chicken and plain mashed potatoes because it was recommended in something I read. At 5:30 am she started retching and threw up slimy yellow stuff, but not much like before. She's not acting herself.
April 27, 2018
Vomiting with or without bile may be caused by a variety of different causes; there may be a side effect of vaccination, a small infection, stress, foreign object, poisoning among many other causes. Vomiting is a vague symptom commonly seen as the first symptom in hundreds of different conditions; try to withhold food for 12 hours and then feed a small portion of boiled chicken and rice to see if she can keep it down, if she is still having issues or she develops other symptoms like fever or anything else concerning visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
April 28, 2018
Was this experience helpful?
Learn more in the Wag! app
© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download the Wag! app
Download the Wag! app