English bulldog looking poorly

A dog's one-off vomiting of bile is no concern.

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Why does my dog keep throwing up bile?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

If your dog is regularly throwing up bile, especially in the morning, this could point to a particular problem that would be well worth getting checked out.

If your dog is throwing up bile, this means that their stomach is empty and there is no food to bring up. Bile is produced by the liver to help with the digestion of fats. It is then stored by the gallbladder and released into the small intestine after your dog eats.

If your dog vomits bile as a one-off, this is probably nothing to worry about, unless they are showing other symptoms. However, if your dog vomits bile regularly, especially in the morning, they might have Bilious vomiting syndrome (BVS). BVS has been linked to a range of underlying causes, such as abnormal gut propulsion, inflamed stomach, unbalanced stomach pH or incorrect triggering of the vomiting processing centre in the brain.

Should I worry if my dog vomits bile?

No, not if it is a one-off occurrence, and they are otherwise well and not showing additional symptoms. Otherwise you should contact a vet for advice about whether any diagnostics are necessary, and about changes that could help reduce the incidence.

Why does my dog keep throwing up bile at night?

If your dog is throwing up bile, this suggests that their stomach is empty and aggravated in some way. If you are only feeding your dog once a day, consider separating this out into two or more smaller meals. Keep the overall quantity the same to avoid weight gain. You could also consider feeding a small, low-fat snack in the early evening.

Why does my dog keep throwing up bile in the morning?

This is a characteristic of BVS and suggests that you need to discuss the management of it with a vet. Try to feed your dog earlier in the morning, if possible, or a snack later in the evening.

Why does my dog keep throwing up yellow bile?

It is common for bile to be yellow in colour.

Why does my dog keep throwing up orange bile?

Bile can be orange in colour, but if you think that it actually appears more red or it looks like blood may be present, you should contact a vet.

Why does my dog keep throwing up clear bile?

Bile can vary in colour and consistency, although it is unlikely that it will be clear. Sometimes pets can produce a lot of clear drool when they are feeling nauseous. It might otherwise be mucus, which is sometimes regurgitated or coughed up, and can be mistaken for vomiting.

Why does my dog keep throwing up white bile?

Your pet might bring up some white foam when they are vomiting bile. If this occurs as a one-off and they are showing no other symptoms, it is probably not a cause for concern. However, if they are showing signs such as lethargy, coughing or pain, then contact a vet, as there may be another underlying cause.

What does it mean if my dog throws up yellow foam?

Bile will usually have the appearance of a yellow to green foam and is brought up when a dog vomits but their stomach is empty.

Is your dog’s diet a cause of the problem?

Although dogs vomit bile when their stomach is empty, diet can affect the problem. This is because foods that are high in fat can be linked to increased leakage of bile into the stomach, causing irritation to the stomach lining and thus vomiting. Speak to a vet about feeding your dog a lower fat diet and make sure to avoid any fatty treats. Frequency of feeding can also be a contributory factor. You may also need to feed smaller meals more regularly.

When should you see the vet?

If your dog is vomiting bile twice a week or more, you should book a veterinary appointment. You should also seek veterinary advice, even if there has only been one episode, if your dog is showing any other symptoms for concern. These can include, but are not limited to, non-productive retching, signs of pain, bloating of the stomach, inappetence, known ingestion of a toxin and known ingestion of something high-fat (e.g. fat balls used for feeding the garden birds).

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