Nothing can make a dog owner jump out of bed faster than the sound of dog that is about to throw up.
I know you know what I am talking about!
The signs of a dog throwing up typically include them hunching over, licking, drooling and with my dog – pacing. For some reason my dogs have always preferred to throw up at night, wonder if that is normal?
Dogs throw up for many different reasons and it can also come in many different colors and textures. I hope this dog vomit color guide can help you understand more about it and how it relates to dog health.
I questioned my own veterinarian about some of the different types of vomit dogs can expel. This should help you understand when your dog’s vomit is “normal” and when it is something more important that you should be concerned about.
Vomiting In Dogs: Common Reasons
There are a few different reasons a dog can vomit. Some can be diet related, medically induced or even environmental. Below are a few of the more common reasons, but truth is it can be so many more.
- Getting a few too many snacks or human treats that do not sit well with their tummy
- Food allergies
- Change of diet
- Presence of an infection or parasites in the digestive system
- Toxic ingestion of a plant or pest control product
Health issues or a condition such as cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or kidney disease to name a few
- If vomiting happens while driving it can be sign of motion sickness
Is It Really Vomit or Something Else?
Sometimes as pet owners we jump to conclusions about vomiting because we are afraid our fur kids are sick. But vomiting, may not always be what it seems.
Sometimes they may be just coughing or dry-heaving. Coughing is that annoying loud noise they make – much like us humans that sounds like someone is hacking up a lung. A little fluid may come up when they cough – just like with people, but this is not vomiting!
Are Vomiting And Regurgitation The Same Thing?
No, vomiting and regurgitation are two very different things.
Regurgitation in dogs is the process of the foods a dog ate coming back up before it hits the stomach – otherwise called undigested food. It starts in the esophagus and what comes up may be covered in mucus. It is usually unexpected and does not require the same abdominal reflexes that vomiting requires.
Vomiting will typically bring up contents of the stomach that may have already started being digested. A dog will use its stomach muscles and make some weird scary noises when it happens. Most dogs will signal they are going to throw up with licking and hunching.
Gross, yes. But an important part of the whole “understanding dog vomit” angle I am going for.
- Liquid dog vomit with nothing in it can mean your dog has no food to throw up. If it also seems to have the appearance of white foam: it can be signs of indigestion, a build up of stomach acid or acid reflux. On a more serious note it can be an indicator of pancreatitis or some other more severe illnesses.
- Chunky dog vomit is usually filled with recently eaten foods – sometimes digested and sometimes not. If it is digested then something they ate may be not sitting well with them. If it is not digested it may mean they are having trouble digesting.
- Foreign objects being thrown up like toys or rocks or any item that is not meant for ingestion is just the bodies way of saying it doesn’t belong there. While this is probably the least concerning from a medical perspective, you may want to keep an eye on what comes up and how often. If the throwing up becomes more frequent it may require a vet visit to ensure all objects are fully expelled.
Dog Vomit Color Guide
So – we covered the textures of dog vomit, now let’s review what the colors of the vomit can mean. Understanding these colors can help you be aware if something more serious is going on.
Usually dark vomit is a bigger sign of a potential issue like stomach ulcers, so pay particular attention to those.
Brown vomit can mean a few different things. One is that your dog can be eating poop which you can easily detect because the vomit will stink horribly. This is called, cophrophagia and is a trait some dogs have that is not really harmful. Dried blood can also give a brown appearance and if this is the case you will want to take your dog to the vet. Brown can also be a sign of a blockage in the intestine for which I would recommend taking your dog to the vet asap.
Was your dog hanging in the yard recently? Green vomit can be an indicator they were snacking on some grass or it can be bile. Keep on eye on them for a bit, if they vomit once or twice and then stop they are probably OK. Some dogs will purposely eat grass if they are not feeling great to help them throw up which can make them feel better. If the green vomit becomes more frequent then a visit to the vet is recommended.
One of the more concerning colors for sure! If your dog has not recently had any red dog food or treats, then it can signal the presence of blood. Blood in vomit can be sign of an ulcer or some type of gastrointestinal issue. Highly recommend a visit to the vet for any presence of red!
The presence of bile is common in yellow dog vomit and since most throwup does have some bile in it, it is not an immediate concern. The more bile may indicate less food in the stomach, so if you do see a lot of yellow vomit combined with a lack of eating – a vet visit would be recommended.
Next to red, black vomit can be pretty terrifying. It can indicate a more severe issue with your dog and it is recommended to have your veterinarian take look at your dog. While it can be a sign of mud being ingested – it can also be digested blood so it is better to take them in to rule out any medical issues.
White vomit can be saliva or regurgitation and is more common when a dog vomits with no food in the belly. It can be something as simple as an upset stomach. If you notice it happen once or twice and then it stops they are probably OK. If it becomes more frequent then please take them to the vet!
If a dog is showing signs of distress, not matter what color their vomit is then please take them to get looked at. If they are weak, crying or just seem different – please make that vet visit!
Home Remedies For Vomiting Dogs
If your dog has an upseet stomach or is doing some light vomiting there are a few home based remedies you can try to bring some relief. If your dog is showing any other signs of illness – then do not use these options, go right to the vet!
Over the Counter
First, never give a dog Pepto Bismol!
I have seen that mentioned as an option, but it contains salicylic acid which can have a negative impact on a dogs gastrointestinal track. Pepcid AC (famotidine) and Prilosec (omeprazole) can be better options that are less harsh on a dog.
If they are adult dogs (not puppies) you may want to try and not feed them for a period of time after they throw up.
This will give their stomach a chance to recover. Wait approximately 12-24 hours before providing more food. You can also start with smaller amounts to ensure they can keep it down.
While I would say keep a fresh bowl of water available – if you notice them throwing that up too, then you may want to remove it for a few hours to let their stomach rest. Then provide a small amount of water and see if they can keep it down.
When Veterinary Attention Is Recommended
Most vomiting dogs do not require a veterinarian visit, but if you notice any of the below issues it can signal a medical emergency – so get over there asap!
- Blood in the vomit
- Loss of appetite
- Possibility a foreign object or poison was ingested (antifreeze is a common one for example)
- Dog becomes lethargic or weak after vomiting
- Vomiting becomes more frequent
- Dog is running a fever
An ultrasound, endoscopy and exam of the esophagus are all potential things the doctor may do to see if they can find why your dog is vomiting. If your veterinarian finds that it is not a serious issue, they may recommend trying a new diet to see if that improves the issue.
I hope this helped you better understand what to be concerned about if your dog does vomit. As you can see not everything is an emergency, but you should always be aware of what is going on with your pet!
Have an interesting dog vomit story to share? Do tell!