Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Bile?

dog throwing up bile

Bile is a liquid made and released by the liver but stored in the gallbladder. It assists with digestion by breaking down fats into fatty acids. You would not normally expect to see a dog throwing up bile. 

Read on to find out why the presence of yellow-green dog bile vomit could be a cause for concern, especially if it happens several times.

The Key Reasons Dogs Throw Up Bile

Dogs have a habit of sniffing around for any scraps of food they can eat. It can sometimes seem like an obsession. It should come as no surprise that it’s not uncommon for dogs to vomit. 

Their stomachs may get a little upset because they can be so indiscriminate about what they put into them. Vomiting can bring relief when they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t. Or – just like in humans – sometimes a dog might simply become nauseous and throw up for “no reason”.

Bile is yellowy-green in color due to yellow bilirubin, made during the breakdown of red blood cells, and biliverdin, a green tetrapyrrolic bile pigment. 

When you see a dog throwing up bile, it’s always a cause for concern and might mean there’s something more serious going on. Here are some of the most common reasons you should worry about if you see bile in a dog’s vomit:

Gastrointestinal Diseases

If a dog throws up bile, it could be due to a number of conditions that affect the digestive system. These include parasite infections, viruses, ulcers, inflammatory diseases, and certain cancers. 

Whatever the condition, you’ll generally want to see your vet to look for the underlying cause so that they can recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. 

Given that bile’s acidity can erode the esophagus, it can cause ulcers if left untreated. Breeds with sensitive stomachs may have a predisposition to inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases. These include poodles, toy breeds, bulldog breeds, and retrievers. 

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Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

When a dog ingests their food, they’ll release bile into the small intestine to break down food. That allows their bodies to digest and use the nutrients where they need them and to get rid of anything that’s surplus to requirements.

Bilious vomiting syndrome occurs if bile gets into the stomach from the small intestine. This can happen when a dog hasn’t eaten for a while or because they’ve eaten an unusually large amount of fatty foods. It might also happen if the dog has been drinking too much water or has eaten a lot of grass.

Sometimes, a dog can develop bad habits or simply be more prone to stomach sensitivity. In these instances, you should try feeding your dog easily digestible, high-fiber, and low-fat meals.

You may also want to begin giving your dog smaller, more frequent meals, particularly when the bilious vomiting episodes happen first thing in the morning after a long period with no food. 


Disorders like pancreatitis more commonly when a dog ingests very fatty or oily foods. This can lead to an inflammation of the pancreas as well as bilious vomiting, diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain.

Pancreatitis typically occurs 3 to 5 days after a dog eats the offending foods although it may on occasion happen as soon as 24 hours afterward. Pancreatitis can be a life-threatening condition, and your vet would normally recommend treatment to prevent dehydration, pain, and potential electrolyte imbalances.

Intestinal Blockages

Bones, toys, bones, and even large hairballs can lead to a blockage in the intestine. You should treat these incidents as emergencies and take your dog straight to the vet’s surgery.

What might first appear as a normal bout of vomiting can soon turn into a dog throwing up yellow-colored once they’ve emptied the contents of their stomach. You might notice a drop in your dog’s energy level. The blockage can also cause extreme abdominal pain.

Surgery is the typical way your vet would remove the obstruction, although an endoscopic procedure may be a solution in some cases.


Should your dog ingest something they have an allergy to, they may have a vomiting episode with bile present. This can typically happen if you are switching your dog to a new type of food. In this case, switch back to a food that your dog’s used to. 

Typical foods that can cause allergy issues are dairy products, eggs, fish, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, wheat, soy and rabbit

Dogs can sometimes suddenly develop an allergy to a food they’ve eaten on a regular basis for years. The majority of pets will develop a food allergy between the ages of 1 and 5. A move and change in the environment can bring on an allergy.

You should stick to a strict 3-month diet trial to identify the food that’s causing the allergy. It’s best to work with a vet to come up with a diet that removes the problem food but still gives your dog the vitamins and nutrients they need.

How to Prevent Vomiting in Dogs

Here are some actions you can take to minimize the risks:

  • Take your dog to the vet for a routine check-up at least once a year 
  • Feed your dog a well-balanced, high-quality diet – keeping treats to a minimum
  • Keep chemicals, plants, and human food out of reach
  • Keep a close eye on your dog while they are playing with toys
  • Stop your dog from eating, licking, and chewing items that could be risky

When in Doubt Consult a Vet

You should always try to seek advice from a vet if you see your dog throwing up yellow bile. Any delay could make a bad situation even worse. Some of the causes are life-threatening conditions, and should be treated as a medical emergency. If you have any concerns about your dog throwing up bile, do get in touch. We have a team of expert vets on hand to help. Book a slot with one of them today.

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