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Types Of Dog Vomit & What They Mean

types of dog vomit
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Dog owners often worry when they see their dog vomit. But it’s totally natural. You want your dog to vomit … and get rid of something he can’t digest or something that’s making him ill. However, there are times when types of dog vomit offer some additional health insights. 

Here are some causes of types of dog vomit.

Causes Of Dog Vomiting

There are many reasons that may cause your dog to vomit. There is acute vomiting that might only happen once or twice in a short time period. Chronic dog vomiting may have other symptoms such as pain, lethargy, dehydration, fever, and weight loss.

Here are some common causes of dog vomiting: 

  1. Dietary indiscretion: This is when your dog eats spoiled food, garbage, a foreign object like a toy or something he found outdoors or on a walk.
  2. Viral or bacterial infections: Canine parvovirus, distemper, and bacterial infections like salmonella or E coli can all cause vomiting in dogs.
  3. Parasites: Parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and giardia can cause dog vomiting.
  4. Motion sickness: Traveling in cars or boats can cause some dogs to vomit.
  5. Poisoning: Eating toxic substances like chocolate, medications, rat poison, insecticides, antifreeze or cleaning products can cause dog vomiting.
  6. Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas that can cause vomiting and other gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs.
  7. Kidney or liver disease: These conditions can cause vomiting, along with other symptoms like weight loss and lethargy.
  8. Inflammatory bowel disease: This is a chronic condition that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss in dogs.
  9. Tumors: Certain types of tumors can cause vomiting in dogs, especially if they affect the digestive tract or brain.
  10. Medications: Many drugs have vomiting, nausea and diarrhea as side effects.

Here’s how to identify different types of dog vomit.

Different Types Of Dog Vomit 

Here are different types of dog vomit and what they mean. 

  1. Undigested food. Vomit with undigested food might mean your dog has eaten too quickly or the food was too cold. The telltale sign that everything is okay is that he eats it again.  
  2. Yellow bile. Vomit with yellow bile usually means your dog has an empty stomach, or there is an issue with the digestive system such as inflammation or infection.
  3. Foamy or clear liquid. This can be caused by overeating, eating too quickly, or a food that doesn’t agree with your dog’s stomach.
  4. White foam. This can be a sign of gastrointestinal issues, dehydration, or food that causes indigestion. If a dog drinks a lot of water really quickly, he may bring it right back up as white foam and water.
  5. Blood or brown specks. Vomit with blood or brown specks may be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding or ingestion of a toxic substance. A bone can scratch the throat and stomach lining so blood (and the bone) may come up in the vomit. If the intestines are scratched, specks of red blood will show up in your dog’s poop.
  6. Worms in vomit. This usually means your dog has a serious infestation. Roundworms can migrate through the lungs, then be coughed up and swallowed. If your dog vomits you will see recently swallowed worms in the vomit. Dogs can vomit roundworms, hookworms or tapeworms … although it’s more common to find them in their poop.

Types Of Dog Vomit Color Guide

You’ll notice that dog vomit can be different colors. Here’s what the colors might mean.

Yellow Or Green Types Of Dog Vomit

This can indicate that the vomit contains bile, which is a digestive fluid that helps break down fats in the small intestine. If your dog is vomiting bile, it could be one of the following reasons:

  • An empty stomach or an issue with his digestive system.  
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as gastritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • An obstruction in the digestive tract.
  • Whipworms may cause your dog to vomit a yellow-green substance.
  • A bacterial or viral infection in the digestive system. Other symptoms would include diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy.
  • If your dog eats a toxic substance, it can cause him to vomit yellow foam, alongside other symptoms such as drooling, seizures, and lethargy.
  • Stress and anxiety can cause your dog to vomit yellow foam due to increased stomach acid production.

RELATED: Learn more about yellow vomit in dogs ...

Brown Vomit 

This can be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as liver or kidney problems. It can also be a sign that your dog has eaten something toxic or has an intestinal blockage.

Here are some reasons why a dog might have brown vomit:

  • Ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy or piece of clothing, which can cause a blockage in the digestive system
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding might cause blood in vomit. It can be caused by various issues, including ulcers, tumors and infections.
  • Liver disease or dysfunction, which can cause a build-up of toxins in the body.
  • Pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas that can cause digestive issues, including vomiting brown vomit.
  • Eating poison or a toxic substance, alongside other symptoms such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

Red Vomit

Red vomit usually means there is blood, which can be a sign of an injury or internal bleeding. It can also be a sign of a gastrointestinal issue or ingestion of something toxic.

White Or Foamy Vomit 

White or foamy vomit might mean your dog has a build-up of stomach acid, which can be caused by an empty stomach or an issue with the digestive system.

Clear Vomit

Clear vomit can indicate that your dog is vomiting bile or stomach acid, which can be caused by an empty stomach or an issue with the digestive system.

Grass In Vomit

It’s not uncommon for dogs to eat grass and then vomit. Some dogs do it when they aren’t feeling well or have an upset stomach. If the grass has been treated with pesticides or other chemicals, it could be toxic to your dog and may cause vomiting.

Serious Types Of Dog Vomit

There are some serious signs to watch for if your dog vomits.

  • Blood in vomit. This can be a sign of severe health issues, such as gastrointestinal bleeding or eating a toxic substance.
  • Projectile vomiting is when your dog forcefully expels vomit some distance out of his mouth. It can be a sign of a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Repeated vomiting can be a sign of an underlying health issue such as pancreatitis, kidney disease or liver disease.
  • Weakness or lethargy after vomiting can be a sign of dehydration or an underlying health issue. Note: If you have a puppy who also has blood-stained feces with a very unpleasant odor, those are signs of parvovirus and your puppy needs urgent treatment.
  • Abdominal pain, especially around the stomach or abdomen, can be a sign of a serious health issue.

When Should You Be Concerned About Dog Vomit?

You should be concerned about your dog vomiting if …

  • The vomiting goes on for longer than 24 hours. This can be a sign of an underlying health condition.
  • Your dog can’t keep food or water down. This can lead to dehydration and other more serious health issues.
  • There is blood in the vomit. This can be a sign of a severe issue, such as gastrointestinal bleeding or poisoning.
  • Your dog is lethargic or weak. This can also be a sign of dehydration or an underlying problem.
  • Your dog has other symptoms. If your dog also has diarrhea, abdominal pain, or there’s a change in behavior, it can mean there’s another problem.

Types Of Dog Vomit Not To Worry About

In many cases, dog vomit is a natural reaction. Here’s when dog vomit is probably not a concern:

  1. If your dog vomits once or twice but seems healthy and energetic. Dogs can vomit when they eat too fast, eat something that doesn’t agree with them, eat something that is too cold or have motion sickness.
  2. If your dog has a history of vomiting but has been cleared of serious health issues, occasional vomiting may not be a cause for concern.
  3. Your dog may have a sensitive stomach or is prone to vomiting. If that’s the case, changing his diet or feeding smaller meals may help.

Difference Between Dog Vomiting vs Regurgitation

Dog vomiting and regurgitation are two different processes, so here’s the difference:

Vomiting

Vomiting happens after food has reached the stomach and digestion is under way. It’s the forceful expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth. It usually starts with retching or gagging. It can be a sign of an upset stomach, pancreatitis, or eating something harmful or poisonous. Contents may be partially digested food, mucousy, bile or contain other stomach contents like a chewed toy that your dog shouldn’t have eaten.

Regurgitation

Regurgitation is more passive, and means undigested food or just water comes up by mouth without any effort from the dog. Regurgitated food has not yet reached the stomach or been digested, so it looks about the same as when your dog ate it. Regurgitation can be caused by esophageal disorders, an abnormality in the esophageal sphincter, or an obstruction in the esophagus.

Here’s when regurgitation might happen:

  • He swallows something that’s too large like a bone or chew. Some dogs will eat it again as soon as they’ve regurgitated it.
  • He has trouble swallowing something for any other reason.
  • He eats too much food too fast. Dogs will also re-eat this food.
  • He eats something that is too cold or frozen … and he will probably re-eat it.
  • Dogs with gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux, esophagitis, or a hiatal hernia may regurgitate food or water.
  • He swallows a foreign object such as a toy, sock or rocks and it comes back up.
  • A neurological disorder that affects the muscles in the esophagus or throat, causing regurgitation.
  • Megaesophagus – a condition where the esophagus becomes enlarged, making it difficult for food and water to pass into the stomach. This is a serious, life-threatening condition that needs to be managed. 

RELATED: Read how to manage megaesophagus in dogs … 

Remedies For Most Types of Dog Vomit

Here are some general remedies that may help relieve vomiting:

  • Fast your dog for 12-24 hours if there have been several instances of vomiting. This should allow his digestive system to rest and recover. (Note: don’t fast puppies under 6 months, very small dogs, or hypoglycemic or diabetic dogs)
  • Provide plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration.
  • Feed small, frequent meals after fasting. Feed easily digestible food such as cooked turkey and steamed vegetables.
  • Add probiotics to replenish your dog’s healthy gut flora and digestive enzymes to ease digestion. 
  • Give ginger – one of the best home remedies for vomiting and upset stomach because it has anti-spasmodic effects. It’s believed to help settle stomach irritation and nausea. It also works as an antacid that’s easy for your dog to digest.

Other Helpful Herbs

  • Slippery elm can help soothe the digestive tract and alleviate vomiting or regurgitation. It’s available in powder or capsule form, and can be mixed with food or given directly to your dog.
  • Aloe vera juice has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe the digestive tract. You can add a small amount of aloe vera juice to your dog’s food or water. 
  • Chamomile tea has natural anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties and may help with vomiting. Brew a weak tea using one chamomile tea bag per cup of hot water, and let it cool before giving small amounts at a time to your dog.

RELATED: The benefits of fasting your dog …

Natural Remedies For Dog Regurgitation

As well as the previous suggestions, these steps might help with regurgitation:  

  1. An elevated bowl can reduce the amount of air your dog swallows while eating.  
  2. Small, frequent meals can help prevent overeating and reduce the likelihood of regurgitation.
  3. A slow feeding bowl or a lick mat can slow down your dog’s eating.

If your dog is a gulper, he might be more prone to regurgitation or vomiting. But much of the time, vomiting isnt something to be concerned about. Just be aware that if it’s happening with great frequency or the types of dog vomit look unusual, you need to look a little deeper or ask for your vet’s help, as your dog may have another underlying health issue.

References

Elwood C, Devauchelle P, et al. Emesis in dogs: a review. J Small Anim Pract. 2010 Jan;51(1):4-22. 

Ferguson L, Wennogle SA, Webb CB. Bilious Vomiting Syndrome in Dogs: Retrospective Study of 20 Cases (2002-2012). J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2016 May-Jun;52(3):157-61. 

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