When your canine best friend gets sick, he deserves prompt veterinary care. Dogs may vomit bile for a number of reasons, not all of them serious medical conditions. However, early medical intervention can help save your dog if something serious is wrong.
Is It Bile?
Many dog owners believe that any yellow or green vomit is necessarily bile, but this is not true. Food coloring in pet food can alter the color of your dog's vomit, and vomit consisting mostly of water may look like bile. Whenever your dog vomits, it's a good idea to withhold food until the vomiting stops. This gives your dog's system time to clear out the source of the problem.
Dogs frequently eat grass to ease stomach discomfort. If your dog's stomach is empty, the grass may cause your dog's stomach to produce more digestive enzymes, and this can result in vomiting bile. Unless your grass is treated with fertilizer or pesticides, it's generally safe to allow your dog to continue eating it, as it can help ease her stomach problems.
Dogs with food allergies sometimes vomit bile when they eat something that upsets their stomach. If you've recently switched your dog's food and he begins vomiting, an allergy may be to blame. Compare the labels of the two foods to check for new ingredients that may be causing an allergic reaction.
Dogs, like people, are prone to short-lived stomach bugs that can cause vomiting. Stomach inflammation causes a condition caused gastritis, a common cause of bile in vomit. Gastritis can be short-lived or chronic. If your dog continues vomiting bile for more than 24 hours, consult your veterinarian. Some serious infections can cause vomiting, so if there is blood in your dog's vomit in addition to the bile, or if your dog is lethargic or has other symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Liver disease is a leading cause of death in dogs, but is still a relatively uncommon cause of vomiting bile. If your dog vomits bile regularly, has yellow eyes, is losing weight or seems lethargic, this could indicate a liver problem. Pancreatitis, cancer, blows to the stomach and bacterial infections can all cause liver problems. Your vet will administer blood tests to check your dog's liver and may recommend medication or dietary changes if your dog suffers from liver disease.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Vomiting
- Canine Liver Disease Foundation: Types and Causes of Canine Liver Disease
- Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn, et al.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.