Dog Vomiting Yellow: 6 Causes & Treatments

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Every dog parent has had to deal with a little bit of vomiting from time to time. However, as a pet parent, you know to inspect your dog's vomit in case there are signs of a problem you need to inform your vet about. 

Dogs can vomit an array of different colors, including clear liquids. They vomit for the same reasons humans do– to expel food or harmful substances by forcing their bodies to react by vomiting. In many cases, a dog may vomit once or twice and be done. However, some dogs may continue to vomit. 

Monitoring your dog after it vomits is important. You must ensure they're drinking enough water to stay hydrated and know when it's time for a trip to the vet. Dogs vomit for many reasons, some of which are more serious than others. However, the color of your dog's vomit can give you clues about their health and why they're vomiting. This article will focus on the color yellow. When your dog vomits yellow, they're likely throwing up stomach bile from an empty stomach. Let's talk about a few common reasons why dogs may vomit bile. 

Causes: Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Yellow?

Yellow vomit typically means your dog is throwing up yellow bile or stomach acids that irritate the stomach lining. However, your dog may throw up yellow if they've ingested something that's yellow. Reasons why dogs throw up yellow vary, so it's important to monitor them after they vomit to determine whether it was a one-time occurrence or a more serious health concern. Here are a few causes of why your dog is vomiting yellow.

Bilious vomiting syndrome

If your dog is throwing up yellow foam, it's likely stomach bile due to bilious vomiting syndrome. In most cases, the yellow in the vomit consists of stomach acids and bile that are produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder.1 When ingesting food, the bile moves into the small intestine to help break down the food for digestion. However, some dogs can have bilious vomiting syndrome, in which the bile goes into the stomach instead of staying in the small intestine.1 Dogs can develop this syndrome when they've gone a while without eating, or they've consumed fatty foods. 

Bilious vomiting syndrome can also occur as a natural response to when a dog eats grass or drinks too much water too quickly. Dogs who frequently vomit yellow will likely need a low-fat, high-fiber diet served in smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.1 

Gastrointestinal diseases

Since the color yellow almost always indicates bile, your dog throwing up yellow bile could also indicate a more serious gastrointestinal disease or disorder, such as inflammatory disease, parasites, cancer, pancreatitis, or infections.1 

It can also indicate obstructions in the digestive tract, such as bones, chew toys, or even grass. Gastrointestinal diseases can cause more frequent vomiting, but they each have their own associated symptoms, so pet parents can't diagnose them on their own. For example, dogs with bacterial infections may have patchy hair loss and vomiting, while those suffering from parasites may become lethargic. 

Breeds with sensitive stomachs are predisposed to GI problems, but any dog can get them since there are so many contributing factors. Treatment for various gastrointestinal issues will depend on the underlying health concern. For example, if your dog has parasites causing them to vomit, your vet will prescribe medication. However, if they're experiencing complications related to a disease like pancreatitis or cancer, your vet may have to come up with a new treatment plan to help manage the underlying illness to relieve the symptoms. 

Pancreatitis

Dogs with pancreatitis can vomit yellow bile after eating a fatty or oily meal. These types of dogs should avoid fatty foods because they cause inflammation in the pancreas that can result in vomiting bile.1 It can also result in stomach pain and diarrhea for up to a few days after eating the food. Dogs with pancreatitis may require a special diet that's low in fat to prevent health issues. 

Intestinal blockages

Intestinal blockages can also cause your dog to vomit yellow. Blockages are serious medical emergencies and may require surgery to save your dog's life. Since an obstruction is blocking your dog's food, your dog will throw up their food, which will eventually turn into yellow bile when the stomach is fully emptied. 

Anything can cause an intestinal blockage in dogs, so it's always best to monitor them during playtime to ensure they're not destroying toys and eating the pieces. You should also prevent your dog from eating things off the ground outside when on walks. Many dogs may pick up rocks or sticks and swallow them, causing severe damage to their digestive tract and blockages. Therefore, it's always best to monitor your dog when you're with them and keep your home free of items they may steal and chew on while you're away. 

Allergies

Allergies may also cause your dog to vomit yellow. Since dogs often vomit yellow bile when their stomachs are empty, your dog could be allergic to their food. Many dogs vomit after switching to a new food because they have sensitive stomachs. This is why your vet always tells you that if you're going to change your dog's food, you should do it gradually. If your dog is throwing up yellow because you've changed their kibble, you should switch back to the food you know doesn't cause vomiting or upset stomach. Dogs vomiting yellow due to food allergies may throw up soon after eating their food, so at first, you may see undigested kibble in the vomit. However, when their stomachs empty, the vomit may appear yellow and frothy. 

Dogs can be allergic to almost any food, including beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, corn, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish.1 Therefore, if your dog throws up yellow, consider whether you've given them anything new to eat over the last 24 hours. 

Unfortunately, dogs can become allergic to their food after years of eating it, but most dogs develop food allergies between the ages of one and five.1 If your dog suffers from allergies, your vet might suggest a more restricted diet to determine what they're allergic to and try to find alternatives to feed them. Luckily, there are many specialty diets on the market available for dogs with food allergies that use alternative proteins.

Toxin exposure

Dogs are known to get into things they shouldn't, including toxins you may have around your home, like houseplants, cleaning chemicals, and essential oils. However, many foods, including grapes and chocolate, are also toxic to dogs. If your dog ingests toxins, their body's response will be to expel them as fast as possible. If your dog hasn't eaten in a few hours, their vomit may be yellow and foamy. They may also experience diarrhea. 

If you know your dog has consumed a dangerous toxin, take them to the nearest emergency vet. Depending on the toxin, your vet may pump your dog's stomachs or give them IV fluids to help their body naturally remove the toxins. Toxin exposure is preventable, so it's best to research the potential toxins you have around your home to keep them out of your dog's mouth. 

Treatment For Dog Throwing Up Yellow

Ultimately, treatment of your dog's vomiting will depend on the underlying cause. Your vet can diagnose your dog's illness in a few different ways, but the more information you can provide them, the easier it will be for them to formulate a treatment plan. As soon as your dog is vomiting yellow foam, consider the reasons why they might be vomiting. For example, if you recently changed your dog's food or treats, they may be vomiting because you didn't make the change gradually enough for their sensitive stomachs. 

If your dog only throws up a few times, continue to monitor them. Depending on the cause of the vomiting, they may also have diarrhea. Provide them access to clean drinking water to ensure they're hydrated, and monitor them over the next couple of hours. If your dog stops vomiting and appears to be healthy, it's likely an indication that they had a mild illness that has passed. 

However, if your dog continues to vomit over the course of a few hours and they're vomiting in excess with other symptoms like diarrhea, shaking, and lethargy, take them to the nearest emergency vet clinic. If you're unsure what could have made your dog sick, it's always best to get an expert opinion to provide you with peace of mind. Luckily, healthy dogs without underlying health issues recover fairly quickly once the toxin or allergen is out of their system. 

Dog Throwing Up Yellow: Frequently Asked Questions

What to do if my dog is throwing up yellow foam?

Foamy yellow vomit indicates a buildup of stomach acid if your dog eats too much at one time or vomits on an empty stomach.  In dogs, this type of vomit almost always indicates bile, which is caused by stomach irritation in one form or another. However, if you're unsure why your dog is throwing up, it's always best to take them to the vet as soon as possible for treatment, especially if they continue throwing up or throwing up large quantities. 

What causes dogs to throw up yellow?

Many things can cause your dog to throw up yellow. Since yellow indicates your dog is throwing up bile due to an empty stomach, you must determine what's making your dog vomit in the first place. While the color of the vomit is telling, it doesn't tell you all you need to know about your dog's health. The only way to know what's making your dog throw up yellow is to take them to a vet as soon as possible, especially if they continue to vomit. 

Some dogs may vomit yellow a few times and stop, indicating that whatever was irritating their digestive tract has passed. This can happen when dogs consume new foods or haven't eaten for a long time.

How do I stop my dog from throwing up yellow bile?

The only way to prevent your dog from throwing up yellow bile is to take them to a vet for diagnosis. Your vet can tell you why your dog is vomiting yellow bile and devise a treatment plan for any underlying causes. In most cases, as long as there's no serious health condition or obstruction, your vet will recommend feeding them a bland diet for the next few days. A bland diet typically consists of boiled chicken and white rice. 

Final Thoughts

Dogs vomit yellow for many reasons, so it's important to determine when to see a vet. If it was an isolated incident and your dog resumed its regular activities, you likely don't have to worry about a serious underlying illness. However, you should continue to monitor your dog after they vomit. If your dog continues to vomit or experiences other symptoms like diarrhea, dehydration, or blood in the vomit, take them to the vet. 

Unsure whether you should take your dog to an emergency clinic? Consult a Dutch vet. Our vets are available to answer your questions about your dog's health 24/7. Wondering, "why does my dog have diarrhea?" or "why did my dog throw up yellow?" We can give you some answers about anything from kennel cough treatments for dogs to recommendations on different food brands. Learn how telemedicine for pets works

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References

  1. "5 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Throwing up Bile." PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/5-reasons-why-your-dog-throwing-bile.

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