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Health & Wellness

Why is my dog throwing up yellow?

Pro tip: sometimes a bedtime snack goes a long way.

Seeing our dogs throw up is saddening, leading to a worrisome rabbit hole of wondering what the cause is. But just because they’re throwing up — and just because their vomit might be an unusual color — doesn’t necessarily mean something is drastically wrong.

If you see your best friend throwing up and notice it’s more yellow than usual, here’s what you need to know.

What causes a dog’s vomit to be yellow?

If your dog is throwing up yellow, chances are high there’s a common — and treatable — reason for it. “The most common cause of yellow vomit in dogs would be bilious vomiting,” Dr. Brett Shorenstein, the owner and head-vet at Abingdon Square Veterinary Clinic in New York City, says. What’s bilious vomiting, you ask? It’s when there’s a larger amount of bile (or digestive fluids) in the stomach than usual, thus tingeing the resultant vomit with a yellow tint. “It’s typically caused by an empty stomach,” he adds. “So the most common complaint is dogs vomiting yellow early in the morning on an empty stomach.” 

While Dr. Shorenstein says that yellow typically implies bile, he also points out that other factors can turn vomit yellow, such as viruses, parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease or even if our dogs eat a foreign body they shouldn’t have. At the end of the day, it’s best to err on the side of caution and call your vet to make sure your pet is OK. “It’s not like exactly one color can cause one specific type of vomiting,” he notes.

If you’re worried about your pet’s health, it’s always best to contact your vet for advice.

How to prevent bilious vomiting

The main reason dogs throw up yellow is that the stomach has too much bile and not enough food, so the solution is pretty simple. Dr. Shorenstein explains how a few different strategies can typically resolve this condition: “One could be feeding your pet a bedtime snack, so there’s less of an interval between dinner and breakfast,” he suggests. “Another could be just feeding breakfast earlier, and that depends on if people want to get up earlier. Or a combination of one of these can typically resolve it.” 

In certain instances, however, Dr. Shorenstein says some dogs do need to go on antacid medication, which changes the stomach's pH, thus making vomiting less likely. 

Your vet will know what’s best for your dog, so make sure to contact a professional before diagnosing and treating your pup.

RELATED: Tips for helping your dog throw up

What to do if your dog is throwing up yellow

Although yellow vomit is commonly a result of an easy-to-fix empty stomach, the possibility of other triggers is cause for a phone call with your vet to be safe. “If your dog is throwing up yellow, I always recommend calling your vet because there might be something more specific about their history that would lead the vet to change the advice,” Dr. Shorenstein explains. “Often, acute vomiting benefits from an evaluation from a veterinarian.”

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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