Dogs vomit. Anyone who’s spent a lot of time around canines knows this for a fact. The most common form of vomit is bile or bile reflux. It’s yellow or greenish in color and usually odorless. It can have the consistency of goo, be full of mucus … or air-filled and foamy. Here’s what it means when you see your dog throwing up yellow …
What Is Bile?
Bile comes from the liver and gallbladder. It breaks down fats and oils in the small intestine … it helps your dog’s body absorb nutrients. Here’s a bit more detail on how that works.
Bile comes from recycled red blood cells that get converted into billirubin through cellular metabolic processes in the liver. Billirubin goes through the bile ducts into the gall bladder and breaks down dietary fats for digestion. Bile is very alkaline so it helps neutralize the acidic stomach contents, protecting the sensitive small intestinal lining. The acidic content of the stomach passes through the pyloric valve into the duodenum … then the pyloric sphincter closes. If It doesn’t close, bile leaks into the stomach and reacts with the acid left in the stomach. This is what you see when your dog vomits up yellow vomit.
So let’s talk about what to do if you see your dog vomiting yellow bile or foam.
3 Common Reasons For Yellow Dog Vomit
Here are some of the common reasons for a dog to vomit yellow foam or bile …
An empty stomach is the most common reason for a dog throwing up yellow bile.
Lack of food can cause bile to build up and irritate your dog’s stomach lining. So, depending on when your dog normally has his meals … you may see your dog vomiting yellow bile at night, or in the early morning.
As dogs age, vomit happens more due to an empty stomach. Fortunately, this condition has an easy fix:
- Feed smaller meals and …
- Give your dog a snack at bedtime
These two things will help you avoid a dog throwing up yellow bile in morning.
While there are common reactive foods like soy, corn and wheat … any type of food can cause a reaction. Food sensitivities can develop over time and they’re usually a sign of an unhealthy gut. Your dog’s gut is lined with a mucous membrane that stops pathogens from getting into your dog’s blood stream. But it can get damaged by things like poor diet, antibiotics, NSAIDs and other drugs, stress and environmental toxins. Then the spaces in the gut lining expand and allow substances like bacteria, viruses and undigested food particles into the blood stream. This is known as leaky gut syndrome and it leads to chronic problems like allergies or food intolerances … as well as more serious long-term problems like arthritis, autoimmune disease and even cancer.
So, if your dog’s gut is unhealthy, new foods can also be the reason for your dog vomiting yellow. When you introduce a new food, try it first in a separate meal before adding it to your dog’s regular food so it doesn’t cause an irritated stomach (called gastritis).
Sometimes you’ll see your dog eat grass or dirt … and then throw up yellow bile mixed with grass. Dogs do this to help cleanse the digestive system and it’s not usually anything to worry about.
If your dog has severe gastritis … give his digestive system a break by:
- Fasting for 24 to 48 hours, or …
- Giving room temperature or slightly warmed bone broth for 24 to 48 hours
Inflammatory vomiting weakens the spleen. So it’s important to avoid serving your dog’s food cold or straight out of the fridge. Leave food on the counter until it’s room temperature.
4 Herbal Remedies For Yellow Dog Vomit
Here are some herbs you can use to help with your dog’s yellow vomit. Read the descriptions and find the one that best fits your dog.
Meadowsweet is good for acidity in the stomach, over-reactivity and pain. It’s well indicated for dogs who are thin, cool and lacking vitality.
If using dried meadowsweet, give it twice daily with food:
- 150 mg. for extra small dogs to small dogs
- 300 mg for medium dogs,
- 500 mg for large to extra large dogs
If using a tincture, give1 drop for every 10 pounds twice daily before eating. Dilute in a small amount of water and drop into mouth.
Marshmallow root calms the stomach and decreases heat. It coats and soothes the gastrointestinal tract, bringing down inflammation.
Use a capsule of marshmallow or take chopped root and infuse it in cold water overnight. You can give either one with food. For capsules, use the following amounts twice daily:
- 1/2 capsule for small dogs,
- 1 capsule for medium to large dogs
- 3 capsules daily for extra-large dogs (2 capsules morning and 1 in the evening).
For an infusion, take 2 Tbsp of marshmallow root to 2 cups water and let it sit overnight. Strain and give these amounts twice daily:
- 2 tsp for extra small dogs
- 3 tsp for small dogs
- 2 Tbsp for large dogs
- 4 Tbsp for extra large dogs
Chamomile helps decrease spasms and inflammation in the digestive tract. It coats and soothes the mucosa and tissues. It also helps prevent acid and bile reflux.
You can make an infusion with 2 Tbsp of chamomile to 1 cup of almost boiling water. Let steep for 30 minutes. Let it cool and strain. Give these amounts 2 to 3 times a day:
- 1-2 tsp for extra small dogs
- 3 tsp for small dogs
- 1-2 Tbsp for large dogs
- 3-4 Tbsp for extra large dogs
When there’s inflammation (gastritis) in the digestive tract I like to use a combination of herbs if I see a dog vomiting yellow. You can mix chamomile and lemon balm leaf infusion with marshmallow glycerite.
Directions: Infuse chamomile and lemon balm as described above. Mix 4 oz of cooled infusion with 20 drops of marshmallow. Use the same dosage schedule as the chamomile infusion.
Here’s another blend for yellow vomiting, from holistic veterinarian Cheryl Swartz. (She’s the author of Four Paws Five Directions). It’s a mix of goldenseal root, dandelion root and chamomile. It cools and calms the stomach and removes stagnation from the liver.
Directions: Blend the following ingredients:
- 1 oz of spring water
- 10 drops of golden seal tincture
- 5 drops of dandelion root tincture
- 5 drops of chamomile tincture
Give these amounts 2-3 times a day.
- 1/2 dropper for small dogs
- 1-2 droppers for medium dogs
- 2-3 droppers for large dogs
Licorice coats the digestive tract and has a cooling effect. You can use it short-term for reducing acute bile vomiting as well as heartburn.
Use a licorice glycerine extract. Give these amounts twice daily, on an empty stomach, for 1-10 days during an active episode of bile vomiting.
- 3 drops for extra small dogs
- 5 drops for small dogs
- 8 drops for medium dogs
- 12 drops for large dogs
- 15 drops for extra large dogs
In most cases, vomiting bile is something you can resolve yourself at home. But there are some times when you might need to consult your holistic veterinarian.
When You Shouldn’t Treat Yellow Vomit At Home
A dog vomiting yellow bile is a common occurrence. But If your dog frequently vomits yellow bile or foam and the above solutions don’t help, then it’s not a simple cause and you should see your vet. Here are some examples.
Some dogs will eat things that aren’t edible … like socks or hard toys. These objects can cause a blockage inside the digestive tract. If you see your dog vomiting yellow bile when he also has constipation or can’t keep any fluids down … take him to the vet right away.
Bloat or GDV
If your dog repeatedly vomits yellow or white foam, or he’s trying to vomit with nothing coming out, it could be a sign of bloat (also called GDV – gastric dilatation and volvulus). If your dog’s gums are pale, his stomach is tight, he’s restless and distressed, don’t delay and get to a vet. GDV is deadly because the stomach can fill with gas and twist, closing it off at both ends.
Don’t stop to wonder about it. Timing is everything when it comes to bloat.
If you see your dog vomiting yellow, giardia could be a possible cause. This parasite will cause other symptoms, including profuse diarrhea and possible lethargy.
If you suspect that your dog has giardia, take a fecal sample to the vet for analysis.
RELATED: How to treat giardia in dogs …
Inflammation of the pancreas is painful and sometimes serious. Pancreatitis is usually because your dog can’t digest fats and oils.
Pancreatitis can be either acute or chronic. Symptoms include lethargy, spasms, decreased appetite, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If you see these symptoms, it’s best to get your dog into the vet for an exam.
Severe Gastrointestinal Upset
If your dog is dog vomiting yellow on a regular basis, it can be a symptom of a larger gastrointestinal issue. This could include things like cancer, ulcers, or chronic inflammation.
In these cases your dog may have additional symptoms like …
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Feed My Dog After Vomiting Yellow Bile?
A dog throwing up yellow foam or bile at night or in the morning can often be caused by an empty stomach. A lack of food can cause bile to build up and irritate your dog’s stomach lining, so in this case, it’s a good idea to feed your dog after you see him vomiting yellow.
Is Yellow Vomit Normal In Dogs?
It all depends. If you see your dog throwing up yellow when he’s hungry, then it’s probably just a build up of bile irritating the stomach. However, there can be more sinister causes of yellow dog vomit, including pancreatitis or bloat.
If you see your dog occasionally throwing up yellow bile without any other symptoms, it isn’t anything to worry about. Just keep in mind the above situations that warrant a trip to the vet.
Most of the time, you can troubleshoot yellow dog vomit at home.