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Dog throwing up yellow? What are the causes, diagnosis, and treatment? | BetterVet

While dog vomit may not be a particularly pleasant topic of discussion, if your dog is throwing up yellow vomit, you need to find out why. Just like humans, all dogs vomit once in a while and a one-off episode may be nothing to worry about. But what if your dog is repeatedly throwing up yellow vomit? There are several possible causes of a dog vomiting yellow fluid or foam and it’s important to know when to take action and see your veterinarian.


Why is my dog’s vomit yellow?

If your dog is throwing up yellow vomit, then it probably means that there is bile present. Bile is a digestive substance that is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder until it is needed by the body. When a dog consumes food, bile is released into the small intestine to help break down the food. Bile present in vomit may either be a foamy yellow liquid or a thicker, sticky yellow liquid. It can sometimes vary a bit in color and may look greenish as opposed to yellow.


What are the causes of a dog throwing up yellow vomit?

There are lots of reasons that a dog may vomit but if they’re throwing up yellow vomit, then this narrows down the possibilities. Unless they’ve recently eaten something yellow, then yellow vomit in dogs indicates bile and this can happen for several reasons.


1. An empty stomach

If your dog hasn’t eaten for a while, bile begins to back up from the small intestine into the stomach. This irritates the stomach lining which can cause your dog to vomit. This is a very common cause of yellow vomit in dogs and is referred to as bilious vomiting syndrome (BVS).


It often happens overnight or first thing in the morning before a dog is fed his breakfast. BVS is similar to acid reflux in people, but it occurs further down the digestive tract. With acid reflux, stomach acid backs up into the esophagus whereas, with BVS, bile backs up from the small intestine into the stomach. 


2. Disease of the gastrointestinal tract

Many gastrointestinal diseases can result in yellow vomit in dogs. Other signs such as diarrhea, or loss of appetite might also be observed if this is the case. Examples include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), liver disease, or cancer.


3. Pancreatitis

This is a painful and potentially life-threatening disease, causing inflammation of the pancreas. It can be triggered by eating fatty food but can also happen without a known reason. In addition to repeated vomiting, other symptoms include abdominal pain, lethargy, and occasionally diarrhea.


4. Gastrointestinal obstruction

This can occur when a dog eats a foreign object that becomes stuck somewhere in the digestive tract. A gastrointestinal blockage is life-threatening if left untreated so contact your veterinarian straight away if you suspect your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t have.


5. Food allergies

Food allergies or intolerances can cause irritation to the lining of the digestive tract which can result in vomiting. Usually, there will also be other symptoms such as diarrhea and/or itchy skin. A common sign of a food allergy in dogs is licking or chewing their paws excessively, particularly after eating.


How is the cause of throwing up yellow bile diagnosed?

If you don’t already have a veterinarian, then visit to find a veterinarian near you. Your veterinarian will start by giving your dog a full clinical examination. They will be checking for any abnormalities such as a painful tummy or high temperature. Depending on what they find, further tests might be advised such as blood tests or an x-ray or ultrasound scan of your dog’s abdomen. Occasionally, biopsies of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract might be required to reach a diagnosis.


What is the treatment for throwing up yellow bile?

This entirely depends on the cause. If your dog is otherwise well in himself and he tends to throw up yellow vomit when he has an empty stomach, the treatment could be as simple as splitting his food into smaller and more frequent meals. Feeding him a light meal just before bed can sometimes be all it takes to solve the problem.


If your dog has been vomiting for a while, you should take him to a veterinarian. They will check him over and might suggest temporarily feeding him a special easily digestible diet to give his insides a rest. If they suspect a food allergy is the cause, eliminating the offending food can stop the vomiting. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine which food your dog is allergic to, so a diet trial with a prescription hydrolyzed food might be required.


Sometimes, your veterinarian might prescribe antacids or gut-protectants to reduce the production of acid and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Anti-emetic medication (medication that stops vomiting and nausea) might also be required for short-term use.


Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract may require specific medications to treat your dog’s condition. Your veterinarian will be able to come up with a treatment plan for your dog. Treatment of pancreatitis involves supportive treatment such as anti-sickness medication, pain relief, and sometimes time in the hospital on an IV, depending on the severity of the symptoms.


Sometimes, prolonged vomiting can result in your dog becoming dehydrated, particularly if he is also off his food or has diarrhea as well. If your dog is dehydrated, then he will probably require a hospital stay so that he can receive intravenous fluids (a drip).



Many possible reasons might cause a dog to throw up yellow vomit. The yellow color usually means there is bile present in the vomit. Many cases of yellow vomit in dogs are due to bilious vomiting syndrome (BVS) which is easily solved by feeding smaller more frequent meals. If, however, your dog continues to vomit, or if he seems unwell in any way, then take him to the veterinarian to get him checked out. While you shouldn’t panic, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!




Why is my dog’s vomit yellow?

Yellow vomit usually indicates the presence of bile, which is a digestive juice produced by the liver.


Can I treat my dog’s vomiting at home?

If your dog has vomited once or twice and seems well in themselves, then you can try and settle their stomach by feeding small light meals. If the vomiting continues, or if your dog seems unwell, then you should take them to the veterinarian.


When should I take my vomiting dog to the veterinarian?

If your dog is vomiting repeatedly, he seems unwell, or you know he has eaten something he shouldn’t have, then take him to the veterinarian to get him checked.