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As a pet parent, sometimes you'll have to deal with dog vomit. Unfortunately, there are many different types of dog vomit, making it challenging to determine whether your dog is throwing up because they ate too quickly, ate something that didn't agree with them, or are experiencing a serious illness. 

Knowing the different types of vomit in dogs can help you determine whether it's serious, allowing you to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Additionally, it can help you diagnose the potential cause of your dog's vomiting and find ways to help them feel better. 

Remember, throwing up isn't fun for anyone, so if your dog is vomiting, try to make them more comfortable and provide them with fresh water to prevent dehydration. This article will discuss the different types of dog vomit and what they mean to help you take better care of your pet.

List of common causes of vomiting in dogs

What Causes Vomiting In Dogs?

There are many different causes of vomiting in dogs, and it typically comes with other symptoms, such as retching and nausea.1 Acute vomiting occurs for a short time and may not have other symptoms. In contrast, long-term vomiting is usually accompanied by symptoms such as pain, depression, dehydration, fever, and weight loss.1 Common causes of vomiting in dogs include: 

  • Bacterial and viral infections
  • Bloat
  • Diet changes
  • Heat stroke
  • Ingestion of toxins
  • Parasites
  • Motion sickness
  • Medications

Additionally, several serious illnesses cause chronic vomiting in dogs, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Colitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver or kidney failure

Is It Vomiting Or Regurgitation?

In some cases, your dog might not be vomiting. If your dog appears to throw up undigested food, it's called regurgitation. Regurgitated food hasn't traveled to the stomach and can occur if your dog eats too quickly.1 Conversely, vomiting occurs after the food has reached the stomach and targets digestion. Vomiting is more forceful, resulting in side effects like retching and stomach muscle contraction. 

List of 9 different types of dog vomit

Types Of Dog Vomit & Their Meaning

Different types of vomit in dogs can help you diagnose the cause and determine when to call your vet. Unfortunately, this means inspecting your dog's vomit as you clean it up. However, it's important to note that if your dog throws up multiple times and does not drink water, you should seek medical attention immediately to prevent serious, life-threatening dehydration. The different types of dog vomit colors include the following:

1. Foamy, white

Foamy, white vomit looks like white foam and may consist of fluids. In most cases, the white foam is a mix of saliva and stomach fluids that are foamy because of irritation in the stomach. 

If your dog is throwing up white foam, there are several potential causes, such as:

  • Indigestion: If your dog vomits white foam after eating, it could be due to indigestion. This type of dog vomit is common when pet parents have switched their dog's food too quickly. 
  • Acid reflux: Acid reflux is another common reason a dog might throw up white foam. It occurs when intestinal fluids flow from the stomach into the esophagus, causing inflammation. If your dog has acid reflux, you might see them eating grass to ease their symptoms. However, grass can also be an irritant that causes a white, foamy vomit. 
  • Bloat: Bloat is an emergency medical condition because it can cause the stomach to twist and prevent blood from reaching the heart. This condition is more common in deep-chested large breed dogs.
  • Blockages: Intestinal blockages are another emergency medical situation because they prevent food from moving through the GI tract, causing the dog to vomit. 
  • Toxin ingestion: If your dog eats something toxic, their body will attempt to expel it. However, poison ingestion requires immediate veterinary attention because it could be life-threatening. 
  • Bacterial and viral illnesses: Dogs can experience bacterial or viral infections that cause vomiting and a host of other symptoms, such as diarrhea, fever, and lethargy. 
  • Rabies: Rabies is rare in dogs because most of them are vaccinated. However, a rabid dog will experience a white foamy discharge from their mouth.

2. Clear, liquid

If your dog is vomiting clear liquid, it may be stomach secretions, saliva, or water.2 Typically, a nauseous dog may throw up a clear liquid when they can't keep water down. Some of the vomit may appear foamy, but for the most part, it's a thin liquid that resembles water. There are several possible causes of your dog throwing up clear liquid due to nausea, including:

  • Indigestion
  • Toxin ingestion
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Dietary changes
  • Parasites
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Heatstroke 
  • Bloat 3

Unfortunately, there are many reasons why a dog may become nauseous and throw up water or saliva. You should give them fresh water and continue to monitor their symptoms. If your dog continues to vomit or experiences any other signs of illness, contact your vet immediately.

3. Yellow

Yellow vomit indicates that your dog is throwing up stomach bile, which can irritate the stomach lining and cause it to come back up. Dogs may also throw up yellow if they've ingested something yellow. Unfortunately, dogs' reasons for throwing up stomach bile vary, so you should continue monitoring them to determine if it was a one-time occurrence or a symptom of a serious health issue. Common reasons why dogs vomit yellow include the following: 

  • Bilious vomiting syndrome: Bilious vomiting syndrome causes a yellow vomit of stomach acids produced in the liver. When your dog eats, the bile is responsible for helping break down the food. However, bilious vomiting syndrome causes the bile to go into the stomach instead of staying in the small intestine. This syndrome can also occur when a dog eats grass or drinks water too quickly. 
  • GI diseases: Because yellow vomit indicates bile moving through your dog's system, frequent yellow vomit could indicate GI diseases and inflammatory issues like parasites, cancer, pancreatitis, and bacterial infections. They could also be suffering from GI irritation due to obstructions. These diseases usually cause frequent vomiting and various symptoms, so it's crucial to monitor your dog's vomiting and behavior throughout the day to determine when it's time to see a vet. 
  • Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis can cause yellow vomiting after dogs consume an oily meal. Fats in food can cause inflammation in the pancreas that causes vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. 
  • Allergies: Some dogs vomit bile after eating food they're intolerant or allergic to. It's important to remember that dogs can become allergic to their food at any point, even after years of eating the same thing. 
  • Toxins: Toxins can cause your dog to vomit bile because they irritate the digestive tract. If you believe your dog has consumed a toxin, take them to the nearest emergency vet clinic as soon as possible for treatment.

4. Green

If your dog is vomiting green, it may indicate gallbladder issues that cause bile to enter the stomach. However, it can also be due to grass or if they ate something green.2 If your dog vomits green, it's unlikely to be a serious medical concern or due to an illness. However, you should continue to monitor their symptoms and provide them with fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration. If your dog experiences any other side effects or continues to vomit, contact your vet immediately.  

Bile can be green or yellow, so the cause of your dog throwing up green may be due to some of the causes we mentioned above.

5. Brown

Brown vomit usually indicates the regurgitation of food that was never properly digested.2 It usually occurs when a dog eats too fast or swallows too much air gulping down their food. In most cases, you should be able to see undigested kibble or wet food chunks in the vomit. However, it's important to note that brown vomit may contain blood that looks brown,2 so it's crucial to thoroughly inspect your dog's vomit to ensure they're not suffering from a serious illness. 

Brown vomit may also mean that your dog has ingested feces, which is more common in dogs than you might think.2 Ingesting feces could be dangerous for them, so monitoring your dog on walks and outside is crucial to ensure they're not eating anything they shouldn't.

6. Bloody (red or pink)

Blood in vomit can appear red or pink. Red blood indicates that the blood is fresh, which may be due to stomach lining irritation. Vomiting blood can also occur after a dog ingests poison. If your dog's vomit is pink and has no red, it's usually not an emergency medical situation. However, if there is red blood or clots, it could indicate bleeding in the stomach or small intestine, which could be a sign of:

  • Ulcers
  • Tumors
  • Blood clotting issues
  • Rat poison ingestion2

Therefore, if your dog has red blood in their vomit, you should take them to the nearest emergency clinic as soon as possible.

7. Mucus-like

Mucusy or slimy vomit occurs when your dog's drool pools in their stomach due to irritation, causing nausea. Your dog relieves their nausea by vomiting up the mucus.2 In most cases, this type of dog vomit is short-lived, and your dog may only vomit once or twice before feeling better. That said, mucus-like vomit can indicate irritation or inflammation of the GI tract due to diet changes, infections, and several other health issues, including parasites and kennel cough.

8. Worms in vomit

Some parasites can cause vomiting in dogs, and you may be able to see little worms in their vomit.2 Roundworms are a type of worm that can be seen in feces or vomit. However, worms might not always be visible if your dog has parasites. Additionally, worms are typically associated with other symptoms, such as

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Distended abdomen

Worms in vomit indicate your dog may have a serious infestation, but unfortunately, some worms don't always cause symptoms. Therefore, it's crucial to visit your vet once or twice a year for fecal examinations that allow your vet to determine if there are signs of worms in your dog's poop.

9. Grass in Vomit

Seeing grass in your dog's vomit can be alarming, and your dog may eat grass to soothe their nausea, or the grass could cause an upset stomach. But, believe it or not, dogs don't always eat grass because they have upset stomachs. Instead, your dog may be eating grass for many different reasons, including stress or boredom, for fun, and because of an upset stomach.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Throwing Up

Unfortunately, sometimes dogs throw up. However, not every bout of vomit is a serious medical emergency. If your dog throws up once and seems to be acting normally, you can give them a fresh bowl of water and continue to monitor them. However, if your dog is frequently vomiting or has vomited multiple times in a short period, it's always best to contact your vet for the next steps. 

Additionally, you should consider why your dog might be throwing up. For example, if they may have ingested poison, you should take them to the nearest clinic as soon as possible. However, if you've recently changed your dog's diet too quickly, your dog is probably throwing up due to GI irritation. 

The treatment for vomiting in dogs varies depending on the cause. However, if your vet determines it's a minor issue, they may send you home with feeding recommendations, which may include a bland diet. However, if your dog is vomiting due to a serious medical condition, they'll provide you with a treatment plan. 

Pomeranian looking at pet owner’s smartphone during an online vet consultation for vomiting

Final Notes

Several types of vomit in dogs can cause concern, but paying attention to the color, consistency, and frequency can help you determine when to contact a vet. 

Worried about your dog's vomit? Talk to a Dutch vet. Our vets can help treat and diagnose a wide range of illnesses that can cause vomiting in dogs. Sign up today.
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References

  1. Webb, Craig B. "Vomiting in Dogs - Dog Owners." MSD Veterinary Manual, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/vomiting-in-dogs.

  2. "Why Is My Dog Vomiting?" PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/symptoms/why-is-my-dog-vomiting#clear-liquid-vomit.

  3. Burke, Anna. "Dog Vomiting: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment." American Kennel Club, 26 May 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-vomiting-causes-diagnosis-and-treatment/.

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Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

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