What Is Bile, Exactly?
Before answering the question of why your dog is throwing up yellow bile, lets tackle an even more basic one: What is bile?
Bile is a yellow-greenish digestive juice produced by the liver and stored in your dogs gallbladder. The gallbladder releases bile into the small intestines, where it mixes with food to start digesting it. Basically, bile breaks food into smaller particles, which allows the body to absorb its nutrients.
Bile is a perfectly normal part of your dogs digestive process. So why does it sometimes end up in your dogs vomit? And is it a cause for concern?
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 (a section of the small intestine located just past the stomach) to further assist with digestion.
When dogs vomit yellow liquid, it may simply be that the stomach is empty of food. Gastric acids can irritate the stomach lining when its not buffered by food, 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 dont dismiss your dogs 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.
Dogs are prone to eating things that really shouldnt qualify as food. If your dog ate something spoiled or overly rich from the trash, grazed on grass, devoured something unpleasant off the ground, or managed to eat from the cats litter box, the result can be a bout of vomiting. Occasionally, that vomit will contain foamy yellow bile. This is generally a self-limiting event, unless your dog continues to eat things it shouldnt.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, a part of the digestive system. It usually occurs after a dog eats an especially rich, fatty meal. Along with vomiting yellow bile, your dog will usually have diarrhea and appear to be in severe pain. Pancreatitis requires a visit to the veterinarian for advice and treatment.
A dog can get an intestinal blockage by eating a foreign object, such as a toy, bone, or scrap of fabric. Initially, the dog will vomit out whatever food was in its stomach, but once the stomach is empty, the dog may vomit out yellow bile. Your dog will likely also appear to be in pain, act weak or lethargic, lose its appetite, and may be unable to pass stool. Intestinal blockages often require surgery, although occasionally the veterinarian can remove the blockage with an endoscope passed through the throat into the animals stomach.
Sometimes a dog will throw up yellow bile after eating a toxin, such as chocolate, medications, or toxic plants. There will usually be other symptoms, including shivering or trembling, weakness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or intestinal pain. Should your dog show these symptoms, and especially if you suspect it ate something toxic, call your veterinarian immediately.
When Dog Vomiting is a Symptom
More often than not, yellow vomit is common in dogs and not a huge cause for concern. However, sometimes gastrointestinal upset in our beloved fur babies can be a symptom of a bigger issue. In other words, your dogs vomit may not be the primary issue at hand, but a side-effect of another matter entirely. Therefore, it is always ideal to keep an eye out for additional symptoms.
Another cause of yellow vomiting is pancreatitis. Sometimes, when a dog eats too many oily or fatty foods, the pancreas can become inflamed. If this is the case, yellow vomiting will typically occur between one and five days after the unsavory food was consumed.
Furthermore, pancreatitis is characterized by additional symptoms of diarrhea and extreme abdominal pain.
2. Gastrointestinal Issues
Moreover, excessive yellow vomit can sometimes be a symptom of extreme digestive distress. When paired with other adverse symptoms, yellow vomiting may be an indicator of intestinal parasites, stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), liver disease, or certain GI cancers.
Keep in mind that these diagnoses are only possibilities when yellow vomit is paired with multiple other symptoms. Such as:
If your sweet dog is suffering multiple of the aforementioned symptoms, visit your veterinarian immediately to further investigate your dogs health affliction.
3. Blockage in the Intestines
In some extreme cases, yellow vomit may be an indicator that your dog feasted on something other than kibble. Pica is a condition in which dogs crave, and in turn, consume non-food items. These items may include socks, silverware, rocks, towels, sporting goods, and a number of other unusual items.
Naturally, these items are not exactly thrown a welcome party by your dogs gastrointestinal tract. In fact, when ingested these foreign objects can cause harmful blockages that may require surgery to remove.