My Dog Is Throwing up Bile | What Does Yellow Foam Mean

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Is your dog vomiting yellow foam? If that’s the case, what does it mean? Is it something serious, do you have to take him or her to the vet? Let’s find out the answers to these questions in this article.

Why Is Your Dog Vomiting?

There are a lot of reasons why dogs vomit, and many times, it’s because they have an upset stomach. Some of the factors that can cause a dog to vomit range from bloat, eating too fast, and consuming a large amount of grass to eating spoiled food or garbage, toxic chemicals, or even exercising immediately after having dinner.

If your dog vomits regularly and you’ve noticed a pattern, it might be a sign that there’s a specific issue that has to be addressed.

Whenever you notice that your canine companion starts throwing up yellow substances or yellow mucus, the assumption that you can make is that he or she has an empty stomach and is vomiting bile. It is essential for you to understand that this happens with many dogs and it might not be an alarming symptom as much as you might think it is. It is rather common in older pooches, too.

What Is Bilious Vomiting Syndrome?

Bile is a natural substance created by the liver which helps with the digestion of the foods your dog normally eats. It gets into the small intestine, and it has the role of breaking down the food so that the nutrients can enter the bloodstream and be transported to various body areas and organs.

Bile is typically reabsorbed, but in some cases, it can travel in the wrong direction, and it might end up in your dog’s stomach. Once it is there, it causes inflammation and irritation, because the stomach wall isn’t used to the acidic properties of the bile. Therefore, that’s why vomiting occurs when the bile gets in contact with the stomach lining.

If your canine buddy’s stomach is healthy and there is no slackness in the valve at the exit of the organ (also known as the pylorus), it will either be impossible for the bile to go in the wrong direction, or it will be milked back into the small intestine after going into the stomach.

If your dog is suffering from Bilious vomiting syndrome, the stomach is more or less inactive, and the contractions are either too weak or don’t happen at all. You’ll notice that your dog vomits yellow foam more commonly when he or she hasn’t had anything to eat for a while, so usually, in the morning.

What Does It Mean?

Naturally, any dog parent will feel alarmed when noticing this phenomenon. However, in the vast majority of cases, the syndrome isn’t an indicator that something is seriously wrong, especially if your dog is middle-aged or older. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take him to the vet’s to see just what’s wrong.

Most of the times, you can solve the issue with a set of simple measures, and we’ll detail them below.

Sometimes, Bilious vomiting syndrome can be a sign of a more severe condition. The problems that you will want to rule out are Giardia infection, a stomach ulcer, a foreign body present in the digestive tract, inflammatory bowel disease, or intestinal or stomach cancer. Liver disease shouldn’t be ruled out either, given that it is the organ that secretes the bile in the first place.

Pancreatitis can be another reason why bilious vomiting occurs. This endocrine disorder can occur after your dog has consumed oily or fatty foods. As you might know, older dogs have a little trouble digesting fats, and they are significantly more prone to pancreas-related issues, including diabetes. If this is the problem, the vomiting will occur three to five days after you’ve fed your dog something particularly greasy.

Vomiting bile can also occur when your dog has been exposed to a digestive allergen. Your Fido might have an allergy to dairy, wheat, corn, soy, or even a particular type of meat. As with humans, allergies can be developed over time, so you shouldn’t make the assumption that your dog isn’t allergic to any food just because he or she has had no problem digesting them before.

How Can You Help Your Dog?

If your vet has concluded that your dog is otherwise healthy, there are simple dietary changes that you can make to minimize the frequency of vomiting to the point that it disappears completely. For example, if you feed your dog two large meals a day, you might have to adjust this and break them down into four to five. Don’t overfeed your pooch. Instead, use small meals. This will make it more challenging for the bile to get into the stomach because the stomach isn’t completely empty.

Unlike cats, dogs are allowed to eat foods that aren’t just meat and protein. Carbohydrates are digested slower and tend to spend a lot more time in the stomach and the intestine in order for your dog’s body to be able to extract the nutrients from them. If your dog doesn’t have any digestive sensitivity or allergies to these, you could feed him or her a meal of high-quality rice or pasta around two hours before you go to bed (not in large amounts). In this way, the animal’s stomach will have something to do overnight.

Stomach issues are a common occurrence with older dogs, and that’s a good thing to know as your dog ages.

What If Different Feeding Habits Don’t Work?

If you’ve taken your dog to the vet and all the test results are good, and he or she isn’t suffering from any chronic medical condition, your pet might still have to take medication in case everything else in terms of nutrition fails.

Usually, the vet will prescribe gastric motility medication (prokinetics), which assists in increasing the activity in the stomach. It takes just a few weeks for an otherwise healthy dog to recover with the help of this type of treatment.


Even though it might be a sign of something a little more serious, Bilious vomiting syndrome is rarely an alarming sign, and it responds to simple changes. Needless to say, the first thing you can do if you notice that your dog is throwing up yellow foam rather regularly, is to get him medical assistance.

With a few simple measures, you can actually prevent this syndrome. Feed your dog a balanced diet with several small meals over the course of every day, give the animal plenty of exercise, and always take him or her to the vet for an annual check-up. Cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and even liver disease can be diagnosed effectively if your dog is seen by a veterinarian regularly.



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