Dogs

5 most common reasons why your dog is throwing up bile in the morning

One of the questions I get asked often is “My dog is throwing up bile in the morning (or yellow foam, or yellow stuff, there are several variations of the same question), is it serious?”. So let’s talk about why it happens and what should you do. 

If your dog is throwing up bile in the morning, there could be a number of reasons why. In this blog post, I want to discuss some of the most common reasons why this happens and what you can do to help your pup feel better. However, if your dog has been vomiting regularly for more than a day, please take him to a vet as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing further health problems.

Dogs are well known for eating things they shouldn’t, only to vomit them out later (if we are lucky). If your dog is vomiting sporadically from time to time (no, this doesn’t mean twice a week, more like once in 2 months), it’s probably fine, but please mention it on your next vet visit ☺️

However, if he’s vomiting regularly, take him to a vet. 


While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.


But first thing first – what is bile? 

Bile is a yellowish liquid that is very unpleasant if you are vomiting it. Trust me, I had severe gastritis in the past so I speak from experience 😛 You might have also experienced it if you ever had a bad case of gastric infection (usually from a virus infection), where you had to vomit even when your stomach was empty. It’s that bitter-tasting yellowish foamy stuff that comes out after dry heaving. 

Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. From there it’s transported to the small intestine (called the duodenum), where it helps with food digestion. 

5 most common reasons why a dog is throwing up bile in the morning

When a dog vomits, the bile that comes up is usually a sign that something is not right in his digestive system.

If a dog’s stomach is empty and he’s still throwing up, it might be a sign of viral or bacterial infection, food intolerance or sensitivity, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), liver disease, or cancer.

If your dog has been vomiting for more than a day, please take him to the vet as these conditions can be very serious and require prompt treatment.

Here are 5 most common reasons why a dog is throwing up bile:

Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

This happens when bile enters the stomach (so it’s actually going in the wrong direction) and causes vomiting.

It usually happens when the dog hasn’t eaten for a longer time and the stomach is empty – therefore the dog often throws up bile in the morning (or late at night). 

The exact cause is not really known, but it can be caused by gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) or intestinal reflux. 

Mostly, your dog is simply empty inside and so he’s throwing up bile in the morning (or later at night)

Take him to a vet to determine if there is no underlying medical condition that is causing him to vomit when his stomach is empty. 

Gastrointestinal disease or infection

Another reason for a dog throwing up bile could be that he’s got an infection or an underlying gastrointestinal disease, such as stomach ulcers, inflammations, or even parasites. 

Gastrointestinal infections (especially virus infections) can cause severe symptoms, with diarrhea, vomiting, or fever. If your dog needs to vomit, even when there’s nothing in his stomach, he will vomit bile. 

These conditions are usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as a painful abdomen, lethargy, lack of appetite, diarrhea, or fever. If your dog is showing any of these signs, please take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Pancreatitis and other diseases

Sometimes dog vomiting bile can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as liver or pancreas disease or cancer. 

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, a vital abdominal organ. It is an acute and potentially life-threatening disease that needs medical intervention.

Unfortunately, dog vomiting bile can also be a sign of cancer. Cancerous tumors in the stomach or intestine can cause vomiting, as well as weight loss, lethargy, and changes in appetite.

Intestinal blockage

Bones and toys are the most common choking hazards in dogs, but they can also cause intestinal blockage when ingested. Intestinal blockage is a medical emergency that needs rapid intervention. It means that the intestine is partially or totally blocked and the dog is unable to pass stool. 

If your dog is vomiting bile and he’s also showing signs of abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, he might have an intestinal blockage. Take him to the vet immediately. 

Allergy

If your dog is allergic to something and he ate it, it can cause vomiting. Sometimes dogs get allergic to things they’ve been eating their whole life and it takes a bit of time to diagnose it. 

If your dog is throwing up bile in the morning or during the day and you think he might be allergic to something, please consult your veterinarian. 

Bonus reason why a dog is throwing up in the morning – pregnancy 😛 Yes, dogs have morning sickness too. 

dog throwing up bile in the morning

When to call your vet if your dog is vomiting bile

If you notice your dog is vomiting bile on a regular basis, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

If your dog is vomiting bile and has other signs, please take him to a vet. 

❗️Take your dog to a vet if:

  • he’s vomiting bile frequently (weekly or daily)
  • he’s vomiting regularly (after certain foods for example)
  • he has fever
  • he has a painful abdomen
  • he has diarrhea
  • he’s lethargic
  • he doesn’t want to eat
  • he’s not passing any stool or has problems passing stool
  • shows signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, dry mouth, decreased skin elasticity)
  • has pale/blue gums
  • you feel like something is not right. Yes, you know your dog, trust your instincts. I’d rather have a patient whose owner can’t really explain what is wrong than a patient whose owner didn’t come sooner when it could have saved his life. Better safe than sorry. So again, you know your dog, trust yourself ☺️

Vomiting bile is not good for your dog. If not addressed, it can cause severe inflammation or ulcerations of the esophagus. 

In some cases, dog vomiting bile can also lead to dehydration

printable pet planner

How can you help a dog that’s throwing up yellow bile in the morning?

If your dog is vomiting in the morning, and it’s not frequent, you can try feeding him more often. This doesn’t mean feeding him more! Those feeding guidelines on the dog food bag are there for a reason, trust me ☺️

What I mean is to divide his portion into smaller amounts and feed him 2x or 3x per day. From my experience, this usually helps dogs with mild cases of bilious vomiting syndrome. 

If it doesn’t help, well, you know the drill, call your vet! 😊

So if you see your dog throwing up yellow bile in the morning, don’t panic, but do take him to the vet to rule out any serious underlying conditions. Even if it happens only from time to time, mention it to your vet at your next check-up. This is the kind of information we want to have to keep an eye on things.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading and happy dog parenting! ❤️☺️


While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.


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