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Dog Vomiting Bile: A Diet Plan for Getting Your Dog Back to Normal

Laura Agadoni
June 22, 2017

Does your dog often vomit bile? Here are some changes that you can make to his diet to help reduce these bouts of vomiting.

Do you often find your dog vomiting bile? While this can be a very scary situation, there are many things you can do to reduce these bouts of sickness. Most importantly, you can make a number of changes to your dog's diet to keep his stomach and digestive system in tip-top shape. Here's an overview on chronic bilious vomiting and how you should manage your suffering dog's diet.

What Is Bile?
Bile, a fluid that helps the digestion process, "is produced in the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released into the bile duct," says Dr. Barry Kellogg, a senior veterinary advisor for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA). Bile breaks up the fats that your dog eats, which makes it easier for him to digest fatty foods.

What Is Bilious Vomiting?
Your dog will only experience bilious vomiting if he has an empty stomach. "When it has been a while since they have eaten, or if fatty foods are fed, bile leaks back into the stomach and may cause some irritation and vomiting," says Dr. Kellogg. In this scenario, your dog will vomit fluid, mucus and bile, instead of food. "The vomit usually looks foamy and is yellow, light green or dark green," says Dr. Denise Petryk, the director of veterinary services at Trupanion.

If You Find Your Dog Vomiting Bile, Should You Take Him to the Vet?
You don't necessarily need to bring your dog to the vet if she is not experiencing any other alarming symptoms. "It depends on the situation," says Dr. Petryk. "If the vomiting occurs twice weekly or daily, go to the veterinarian."

Should You Change Your Dog's Diet?
If your dog is vomiting bile on a regular basis, you may need to change his diet. According to Dr. Kellogg, you should avoid fatty foods. For instance, you should never feed your pet the fat trimmings from the meat you eat for dinner. A fatty diet might serve as the root cause for your dog's chronic vomiting or may worsen the problem at hand.

What Feeding Times Are Best When Your Dog Suffers From Bilious Vomiting?
One of the most important ways to lower the frequency of your dog's bilious vomiting is to put a particular type of feeding schedule in to place. "Increasing the frequency of feedings may help," says Dr. Kellogg, as this will allow you to ensure that your dog doesn't have an empty stomach. However, it's important to make sure that you still give your pet the same amount of food overall, because you don't want to overfeed her. If you are going to be gone during the day, consider hiring a pet sitter to come to your house and feed your dog small meals one or two times an afternoon.

If your dog is suffering from bilious vomiting, you should try to provide her with her normal dog food just before she goes to bed. Then, you should feed her again right after you get up in the morning. This is especially important if you notice that the vomiting episodes typically happen first thing in the morning. Because your dog doesn't eat anything during the night, she will tend to wake up with an empty stomach, unless you change her feeding schedule.

What Are the Best Types of Food to Feed Your Dog?
One of the most important ways to help your dog feel his healthiest is to provide him with a nutritious diet. "At least 75 percent of an animal's intake should be balanced and complete food as certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)," says Dr. Kellogg. You also want to make sure that you provide your pet with food that has all the required substances, including vitamins and minerals.

As always, before you purchase any dog food, you should read the label on the bag or container to see what types of ingredients are included. These ingredients are always listed from most to least prominent.

Dr. Kellogg prefers dry foods as a mainstay because they're economical and more likely to be balanced and complete. Canned food, however, contains more liquid, which could help your vomiting dog stay hydrated. As such, Dr. Kellogg says that canned food can make up 25 percent of your dog's diet. You could even try to freeze some canned food and offer it as a treat! This forces your dog to eat slower, which could also help to prevent him from having an empty stomach.

Wondering which types of foods you should reach for? "A small bedtime snack of something low-fat, like carrots or cucumbers, can help prevent bilious vomiting," says Dr. Petryk. If you want to feed your pet a bland diet, Dr. Petryk recommends that you try to incorporate cooked rice, boiled chicken, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, canned tuna and boiled hamburger into his meal plan.

Laura Agadoni is a pet writer and pet owner whose articles appear in various publications, such as The Daily Puppy, Pets on Mom.me, The Nest, Tom's of Maine, The Penny Hoarder and Trulia.

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.


When discussing this problem, no article addresses the elephant in the room... getting your dog to eat. With an upset stomach, my dog does not want to eat in the morning, afternoon... only in the evening. I literally put food (raw diet, freeze-dried, piece of boiled chicken, etc) in his mouth and he doesn't chew. Advice to simply feed more frequently doesn't help. (Yes, he's been to 2 vets and both suggested pepcid, but I don't want him on that long-term.

The little dog I found didn't like dry or canned dog food. I tried many brands and he would vomit bile constantly in the morning. He didn't seem to feel well. I tried to space out his food and that helped a bit. The eye opener was when I started homemade food he got better. Eventually I added supplements and tried vitamins, aiming for a balanced diet. He started vomiting first thing in the morning again. At first I did not make the connection but after trying to add them (4 different brands) over and over I have found a direct link between the vitamins and the vomiting. Dog food has added vitamins and a lot of them. I think for some dogs it's just too hard on their stomach.

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