A brown dog cocks its head to the camera.
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Yellow dog sick: what is it and what does it mean for your dog?

By Nick Whittle Author

Updated on the

Yellow vomitus (vomit with bile) is merely a symptom of a disease or condition. It is sometimes not even due to a disease of organs near the bile duct or gall bladder.

It is more commonly known to be a result of excessive vomiting. Furthermore, the addition of bile to the contents of the stomach worsens the irritation.

There are several reasons why yellow bile ends up in the stomach. One of these is 'Bilious Vomiting Syndrome' or BVS. In other words the bile makes its way back up into the stomach and causes irritation resulting in a vomit of bile.

Other reasons for your dog to vomit yellow bile include her eating suspect foods, inadvertently taking on board a poison, overindulging or exercising too soon after a meal and motion sickness (after a car journey).

Occasional vomiting should not cause you, as her owner, too much concern but if her vomiting is acute, excessive and violent it is worthwhile to be aware of what such things mean and what you need to do about them.

Here are some other illnesses that cause your dog to vomit excessively:

Parasitic infections

Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms may cause gastric inflammations which result in yellow vomit.

Liver flukes can be present in the bile duct and gall bladder. In small numbers they are not thought to threaten the health of the dog, but a more severe infection may cause lasting damage.

Treatment: Various worm treatments specific to the infestation are available and for bacterial infections of the gut your vet may recommend a course of antibiotics.

Liver disease

A liver disease is a common cause of canine death. Your dog may experience extreme nausea as a sub-symptom of the disease. If her vomiting yellow sick is accompanied by anorexia, lethargy and weight loss your dog may have a liver disease.

Treatment: Vet Nick Bexfield writes, ‘the treatment of canine liver disease involves a combination of drug therapy and dietary support.’


Pancreatitis most commonly affects middle aged to older dogs, but in addition, dogs of certain breeds (e.g. Cocker Spaniels and Terrier breeds) are more prone to it. Pancreatitis is defined as the inflammation of the pancreas. Yellow sick is one of the symptoms of the condition due to your dog's excessive vomiting.

Treatment: Canine pancreatitis does not permanently disrupt the pancreas and is in most cases reversible. However, because pancreatitis is very painful for a dog, treatment usually includes the administering of pain killers. A low-fat diet regimen is also recommended.

Excessive vomiting causes bile to enter the dog's stomach.  © Pixabay

Intestinal Blockages

One of the causes of continued retching may be an intestinal blockage. If a blockage is suspected medical intervention should be promptly sought. Severe pain and lethargy in combination with yellow sick may indicate a blockage.

Treatment: Urgent medical intervention is necessary. A vet will ascertain by various measures whether or not your dog’s bowel is blocked. If it is, your dog may need to undergo emergency surgery.

What complications arise with excessive vomiting?

If your dog’s vomitus contains bile it is usually because of her excessive vomiting. A complication of extreme sickness is dehydration. 85% of bile is water but the substance also contains electrolytes and minerals that your dog’s body needs to survive.

Young puppies are especially prone to dehydration and should be watched carefully for any signs of bilious vomit.

Independent of the cause, persistent vomiting can also lead to a dog's malabsorption of protein and a condition known as hypovolemic shock. Hypovolemic shock is defined as a severe loss of blood or fluids which inhibits the heart's ability to properly pump blood around the body.

Your vet may prescribe gastroprotective drugs to try to stem your dog's vomiting. © Pixabay

After your vet rules out any major health concerns, they may prescribe gastroprotective drugs to try to stem your dog's vomiting. These include such things as antacids, receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors.

Your vet's decision to treat excessive emesis or to wait and see if the problem limits itself is determined by the circumstances of the individual case.

When your dog’s vomiting stops you should return her gradually to her normal feeding regimen. In order to prevent a recurrence of her illness you should for the future consider a diet that has a much reduced fat content especially for a dog who has suffered with pancreatitis.

Your vet may also recommend food formulae specifically designed for dogs recovering from other illnesses. Careful attention should now be paid to your dog’s diet, and what she investigates on her walks you must also be aware of.

An unseen allergy or intolerance to certain foods may see a return to yellow vomiting.

Dogs are lovers of any type of substance that has a strong foody smell. It is your responsibility to monitor her heating habits closely. After all, eating regurgitated, decayed or infected food will see a recurrence of her sickness.

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