dog vomit color guide

Dog Vomit Color Guide (What Different Colors Mean)

Reviewed by Lauren Goode, DVM

Our dog vomit color guide can help us identify what is wrong with our pup.

Dog vomiting means your canine friend isn’t feeling well, and may be suffering from gastrointestinal problems. Many things can upset your dog’s stomach, and cause them to vomit in different colors and textures.

Some dog owners can’t really differentiate between vomit and regurgitation.

Regurgitation involves dislodging the contents in the esophagus, where vomiting involves the food that has actually made its way to the dog’s stomach. it often happens immediately after a dog eats or drinks, when a dog drinks water too quickly or gobbles down the food.

Vomiting is often accompanied by abdominal retching noise, signs of nausea, and the presence of undigested food or partially digested.

Some dog owners mistake coughing with vomiting. Coughing is usually associated with hacking that is followed by a loud retch at the end which may be followed by small amounts of fluid.

Different colors mean different things, in this article we will talk about the dog vomit color guide and what each color might be telling you, and how concerned you should be.

What Causes Vomiting in Dogs?

dog vomit color guide

Now that you know your dog is indeed vomiting, you would like to know what are the reasons behind having an upset stomach.

You may need to visit your vet to find out the real cause behind dogs vomit more quickly. Some of the most common factors that causes a dog to vomit include:

1- Diet related causes

  • Change in diet
  • Dog Food allergies or intolerance
  • Bilious Vomiting Syndrome
  • Inflammation in the pancreas, presenting in acute or chronic episodes.

2- Environmental Causes

  • Eating foreign things such as table scraps, pieces of toys, candy wrappers, or trash contents. These foreign materials a dog ate can sometimes hangout in our dogs stomach for extended periods of time.
  • Parasites
  • Toxins such as chemicals, cleaners, fertilizers, antifreeze, topical flea, tick medications and even certain plants that consist of serious toxic materials
  • Medicines or Supplements, such as Flea and tick preventatives, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and Cyclosporine

3- Health related causes

  • Serious medical issues such as kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, cancer, etc.
  • Gastric dilatation or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Adrenal dysfunction. This happens when your dog is chronically producing too few hormones. (Addison’s disease) or too many (Cushing’s disease), either condition can cause vomiting.

Dog Vomit Color Guide

dog vomit color guide

Dog vomit color guide is often the fastest way of narrowing down the cause of your dog’s vomit.

The color of your dog’s vomit can tell you a lot about what they are suffering from, which eventually helps you get an idea on what you can do to aid your dog.

Yellow Vomit

If your dog’s vomit color is yellow. In that case, what you’re seeing is known as bile.

Bile is a fluid the liver produces for digestion.

It goes from the liver to the gallbladder, where it is released into the small intestine, it can irritate the digestive system, and eventually vomit.

Yellow dog vomit is usually harmless. As long as your dog is healthy, you don’t need to be concerned.

Most Common Cause: Your dog’s stomach is empty.

What You Should Do: Feed your dog more frequently, as in split the normal portions into multiple meals  However, if your dog is also lethargic, or won’t eat, take it to the vet. It could be a sign of a more serious issue.

White Vomit

White dog vomit is usually foam in the vomit. There are different reasons behind it. White foam can be an indicator for pancreatitis, bloat, kidney problems or ingestion of an inedible object. All of which cause dog owners to be more concerned.

Most Common Cause: Saliva, bloat or regurgitation

What You Should Do:  Wait to see how they recover and call your vet if your dog continues to vomit on an empty stomach.

Red Vomit

Red or dark red dog vomit can be alarming to many dog owners. Since it’s often associated with blood. Causes behind vomiting blood include stomach irritation, ulcers, HGE, and other serious gastrointestinal conditions that irritate the GI tract.

Most Common Cause: Digested blood.

What You Should Do:  Vomit that contains blood is a serious medical emergency that requires you to call your nearest emergency vet clinic.

Green Vomit

Green dog vomit may be due to eating grass. Grass can certainly make your dog’s vomit appear to be bright green, and will often contain pieces of plant material since grass is not easy to digest.

Most Common Cause: Bile or plant material.

What You Should Do: Wait to see how they recover and call your vet if your dog continues to vomit on an empty stomach.

Brown Vomit

Brown dog vomit can indicate a few things. The cause behind it may just be due to the color of your dog’s kibble.

A more alarming reason behind your dog’s brown vomit is due to eating feces. Eating stool, coprophagia, is quite common in our canine companions.

You can often tell if your dog is eating stool by not only the color of their vomit, but also the nasty yet familiar smell.

Most Common Cause: Intestinal blockage

What You Should Do: Call your vet if you can’t find an explanation for the brown dog vomit.

Black Vomit

Black dog vomit can be horrifying to dog owners. It can point to a serious problem in your dog such as Internal bleeding, or an abnormal growth in the dog’s  stomach,  or they might have ingested something poisonous.

Digested blood will often have a dark and granulated appearance, similar to the appearance of coffee grounds.

Most Common Cause: Ingestion of dirt, soil, or stony material.

What You Should Do: If your dog has pale gums, black vomit or coffee ground like material in their vomit. It’s best to call your vet as soon as possible.

How to Treat Vomiting

dog vomit color guide

Vomiting can be treated in different ways, such as:

  • Avoid feeding your dog for 24 hours after vomiting, while offering a great amount of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Over-the-counter Remedies such as omeprazole (Prilosec) and its prescription cousins.
  • Natural Remedies like ginger, which has natural anti-nausea properties and has been found to relieve vomiting in dogs in some cases.
  • Probiotics which are known as “good bacteria,” may be helpful in some cases of vomiting, especially those related to infection or inflammation in the dog’s stomach and intestines.

When to See a Veterinarian

dog vomit color guide

Most cases of vomiting aren’t considered to be emergencies, and the dog can recover on its own. But some cases need to be treated quickly and require a visit to the vet.

If you notice your dog is vomiting frequently for longer than 24 hours, throwing up blood, has dehydration, weak or lethargic, has ingested a toxic material or a foreign object, or has retching noise but unable to produce vomit despite trying.

If any of those things happen, you should immediately call your vet or your nearest emergency clinic to give your dog the help it needs.

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