Should you change your dog’s diet?
If your dog is vomiting bile on a regular basis, you may need to change their diet. According to Kellogg, you should avoid fatty foods. For instance, you should never feed your pet the fat trimmings from the meat you eat for dinner. A fatty diet might serve as the root cause for your dog’s chronic vomiting or may worsen the problem at hand.
What is bile?
Bile, a fluid that helps the digestion process, is “produced in the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released into the bile duct,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, a senior veterinary advisor for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA). Bile breaks up the fats that your dog eats, which makes it easier for them to digest fatty foods.
When a dog that is suspected of having bilious vomiting syndrome doesn’t get better with more frequent feedings alone and other causes of chronic vomiting have been ruled out, medications can be added to the treatment plan. Some dogs respond to drugs that reduce gastric acidity (e.g., famotidine or omeprazole) while others do better with metoclopramide, a medication that increases the frequency of contractions within the small intestines, or maropitant, a broad spectrum anti-vomiting drug.
We don’t know exactly why some dogs develop bilious vomiting syndrome. The most commonly cited theory is that something is amiss with the normal “housekeeping” contractions of the gastrointestinal tract that should occur in between meals. As a result, fluid within the first part of the intestinal tract (the duodenum) moves backwards into the stomach resulting in irritation of the stomach’s lining and vomiting. This explanation has resulted in some veterinarians calling the condition reflux gastritis.
Whatever the underlying cause, most dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome respond very well to a simple form of treatment — feeding them their normal food right before bedtime and again first thing in the morning (yes, I mean even before you get a cup of coffee). I do not recommend changing the dog’s food at the same time as the feeding schedule is being modified. As a veterinarian, I prefer to change one thing at a time whenever possible so I can better assess what is working and what is not.
If feeding the dog late in the evening and early in the morning doesn’t improve matters, I’ll generally recommend a health work up that consists of blood work, a urinalysis, a fecal examination, and abdominal X-rays to make sure that the dog is truly as healthy as he or she appears to be. In some cases, additional laboratory testing, an abdominal ultrasound, and/or scoping of the GI tract may be in order.
Even when dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome are treated with medications, they should continue to eat a late evening and early morning meal. If this is inconvenient, an automatic feeder is a worthwhile investment.