What to Do if Your Dog Is Vomiting Yellow Bile

Dog lying on sofa at home, looking ill and sad
Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty Images

A dog may be throwing up yellow bile because its stomach is empty and gastric acids are irritating the stomach lining. But, it can also be a yellow foreign object or substance your dog may have ingested, so it's important to not dismiss yellow bile as a sign of hunger. Some plausible reasons for yellow bile are bilious vomiting syndrome, indigestion, liver disease, and more. Watch your dog for lethargy, weakness, and loss of appetite after throwing up. Here are some ways to treat and prevent your dog from throwing up yellow bile, and when to seek veterinary attention.

Why Do Dogs Vomit Yellow Bile?

Yellow-colored vomit generally consists of stomach acids and bile. Stomach acids are produced in the stomach lining to aid in digestion. Bile is a fluid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. The bile enters the duodenum (located just past the stomach) to further assist with digestion.

When dogs vomit yellow liquid, it may simply be that the stomach is empty. Gastric acids irritate the stomach lining, causing the dog to vomit. This explains why some dogs will throw up when they are especially hungry. However, there are other problems that can make dogs vomit, so don't dismiss your dog's yellow vomit just yet.

Note that yellow liquid may not just be stomach acid and bile; it may be that your dog ate something yellow in color and cannot digest it.

There are numerous reasons why your dog is vomiting yellow bile. In many cases, vomiting resolves on its own and is little cause for concern. However, vomiting of any kind can indicate a more serious illness, especially if the vomiting occurs frequently.

  • Indigestion (often due to dietary indiscretion)
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Toxin exposure
  • Pancreatitis or another GI inflammation
  • Infectious disease
  • Bilious vomiting syndrome
  • Liver disease and/or gallbladder problems
  • Kidney disease or other illnesses
Causes of Vomiting Yellow Bile in Dogs

The Spruce / Hilary Allison

What to Do If Your Dog is Vomiting Yellow Bile

If your dog vomits yellow bile just once, there is no need for alarm. Watch your dog for lethargy, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, and other signs of illness. If your dog seems otherwise normal, watch for more vomiting. If the vomiting continues, skip your dog’s next meal and continue to observe. Offer the next scheduled meal after skipping one and continue to watch for vomiting and other signs of illness. If the vomiting continues, you should contact your veterinarian for advice.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog vomits more than two times within a 24-hour period or if daily vomiting continues for several days. In addition, contact your vet if other signs of illness appear.

Treatment for Vomiting in Dogs

Your veterinarian will first perform a thorough examination of your dog. Talk to your vet about your dog’s recent and long-term medical history. Include information about current medications and diet. Remember to share information regarding anything you think your dog might have eaten, such as plants, chemicals, or dangerous foods.

Your vet may recommend diagnostic tests to look for the source of the vomiting. This usually means may include blood and urine testing, radiographs (X-rays), and possibly ultrasounds.

Treatment usually starts with the administration of anti-nausea medications, antacids, and/or GI protectant drugs. Where possible, the first doses may be given via injection to avoid further vomiting. Continuous vomiting frequently results in dehydration, and fluid therapy is often recommended. Subcutaneous fluids or intravenous fluids are recommended based on the severity of dehydration. Severe dehydration and other concerns like pancreatitis, systemic illness, and infectious diseases may require hospitalization. Dogs generally get intravenous fluids and frequent medication dosing while being observed in the hospital.

If the vomiting is a result of poisoning, your vet will follow recommended treatments for the specific toxin. This may also call for hospitalization.

If your vet suspects a GI obstruction, then the next step may be surgery or endoscopy to explore the GI tract and remove the obstruction. A hospital stay will be needed for post-operative care.

How to Prevent Vomiting in Dogs

The best way to prevent vomiting is to keep your dog away from items he should not eat, lick, or chew.  Of course, sometimes there is no way to prevent vomiting in your dog since many illnesses occur with no known cause.

The good news is that there are a few things you can do to minimize the risks of vomiting in dogs.

  • Bring your dog to the vet for routine wellness check-ups every year (or more if recommended by your vet).
  • Feed a proper diet and keep treats to a minimum.
  • Keep plants, chemicals, human food, and any other toxins out of reach.
  • Monitor your dog while they are playing with chew toys, especially if it likes to destroy them.
  • Prevent your dog from licking, chewing, and eating dangerous things.

Remember to contact your veterinarian in the early signs of illness; delaying can only make things worse. When in doubt, head to the nearest open vet office.