The Complete Dog Vomit Color Guide

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The Complete Dog Vomit Color Guide

Nothing can make dog owners 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 vomiting dog typically include them hunching over, licking, drooling and with my dog – even pacing.

For some reason my dogs have always preferred to throw up at night, wonder if that is normal? 

Dogs vomit 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 dog vomit.

I questioned my own veterinarian about some of the different types of vomit dogs can expel after a recent bout of vomiting with my own dog and am sharing the highlights below.

If your dog is vomiting, I hope this article and the dog vomit color guide create below can help you understand when your dog’s vomit is “normal”, what vomit color you should worry about and when you should visit the vet if your dog is vomiting.

Causes Of Vomiting In Dogs

If your dog is vomiting there can be a few different causes.

A dog’s vomit can be diet related, medically induced or even environmental. Below are a few of the more common causes of vomiting in dogs, but truth is – it can be so many more.

  • Some people food can be toxic and cause vomiting in dogs
  • Food allergies 
  • Change of diet
  • Inflammation of the stomach
  • Presence of an infection or parasites in the digestive system
  • Ingestion of a foreign object
  • Toxic ingestion of a plant or pest control product
  • Health issues or a condition such as cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)or kidney disease to name a few
  • If vomiting happens while driving it can be sign of motion sickness

Sometimes your dog will throw up if they get into things they should not, like the garbage can. It is particularly important that you use a dog proof trash can so they do not get into it and ingest something they shouldn’t.

Is Your Dog Vomiting or Is It Something Else?

Sometimes as pet owners we jump to conclusions about dog vomit because we are afraid our fur kids are sick. But dog 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 that looks like vomit, but this is not actually vomiting!

Is Dog Vomiting And Regurgitation The Same Thing?

No, vomiting in dogs 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 dog’s stomach. This is also 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 partially digested contents of the dog’s stomach. A dog will use its stomach muscles and make some weird scary noises when it is vomiting. Most dogs will signal they are going to throw up with licking and hunching. 

Types Of Dog Vomit

Gross, yes – but is all part of a dog owners life! In order to understand the severity of your dog’s vomiting, there are a few things all dog owners should know. 

  • 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, white foam vomit 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.
  • Bilious vomiting syndrome (BVS) is also something to be aware of – if your dog tends to vomit some bile in the morning and goes on about their day fine, it could be a sign they have this syndrome. It is not severe – but you should learn more about it here.

Dog Vomit Color Guide

So, we covered the textures of a dog’s vomit, now let’s look at the dog vomit colors. Understanding the vomit color can help you be aware if your dog is OK or if there might be an emergency happening.

Usually dark vomit is a bigger sign of a potential issue like stomach ulcers, so pay particular attention to those. 

Brown Dog Vomit

If you are seeing brown dog vomit it can mean a few different things. Brown vomit can signify that your dog is eating dog poop. This is easily detectable because because the vomit will stink horribly.

This is called cophrophagia and is a trait some dogs have that is not really harmful, but is pretty gross. My girl Ginger was one of these dogs and often ate her sisters poops. We just had to carefully watch her in the yard to prevent her from doing it.

Dried blood can also give a brown “coffee grounds” like appearance and if this is the case you will want to take your dog to the vet. Brown vomit can also be a sign of a blockage in the intestine for which I would recommend you contact your vet as soon as you can.

Green Dog Vomit

Was your dog hanging in the yard recently?

Bright green vomit can be an indicator they were snacking on some grass or it can be bile which a dog might vomit if they have an empty stomach. 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 the dog’s stomach feel better.

If green dog vomit becomes more frequent, then a visit to the vet is recommended.

Red Dog Vomit

Probably the most concerning dog vomit color! Red dog vomit often means the presence of blood. You should take your dog to the vet asap if you notice red vomit occurring.

If your dog has not recently had any red dog food or treats, then it can signal the presence of blood. Red dog vomit may be a signal that there is blood in the vomit which can be sign of an ulcer or some type of gastrointestinal issue or an injury. Highly recommend a visit to the vet as soon as possible for any presence of red to determine the cause of your dog’s illness!

Yellow Dog Vomit

Yellow vomit is typically pretty harmless.

The presence of bile is common in dog vomit and since most throw-up 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 dog vomit combined with a lack of eating – a vet visit would be recommended. 

Black Dog Vomit

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 black vomit can be a sign of something simple like mud being ingested – it can also be digested blood so it is better to take them to the vet to rule out any medical issues.

White Foamy Dog Vomit

Vomiting that appears like a white foam can be saliva or regurgitation and is more common when a dog vomits on an empty stomach. White dog vomit is usually harmless and can be as something as simple as an upset stomach or kennel cough. When it only happens a couple of times, there is nothing to worry about. More frequent episodes may require a vet visit.

Signs Of Distress!

If your dog is showing signs of distress or having other symptoms while vomiting, no matter the color, please contact your vet to be safe!

Dog Vomit Color Chart

We have created this dog vomit color chart for a way to quickly assess if your dog should see a vet. Please feel free to download it or share it if you find it helpful.

dog vomit color chart

Home Remedies For Vomiting Dogs

If your dog has an upset stomach or is doing some light vomiting there are a few home based remedies you can try.

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. 

Delay Feeding

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 the dog’s stomach time to settle down.

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 You Should Seek Veterinary Help

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 is present
  • 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 out the cause of your dog’s 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. 

If you have a pet planner (and I recommend one!) – be sure to keep track of these vet visits so you have a detailed outline of your dogs medical history to help your vet! You never know when one medical experience may influence another – the more you give your vet, the better your dog’s health will be.

Final Thoughts

I hope this dog vomit color guide helped you better understand all you need to know about your dog’s vomit.

As you can see in many cases dog vomit is usually nothing, but you should always be aware of what is going on with your since on some occasions vomit can signal a medical emergency!

Have an interesting dog vomit story to share? Do tell!

Jill Caren CharityPaws

Jill Caren

Jill is an avid animal lover who spends her time helping animal rescues by photographing homeless pets and through her work on CharityPaws.

She is currently owned by Cleo, an American Pit Bull Terrier and Snoopy Cat. Her inspiration comes from her girls Ginger and Riley (RIP) – pit mix sisters who were loved family members for almost 15 years.

You can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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