As pet owners, finding your pup throwing up bile first thing in the morning is enough to send us spinning into panic mode – what’s causing it? How do we help them? Is it something serious or just an upset tummy? As a veterinarian, I must see vomiting dogs on a daily basis in my veterinary clinic. Relax! With some understanding of why this could be occurring and what remedies are available from home, you may not need to rush straight to the vet. In this blog post, we will look at why a dog may only be vomiting bile in the mornings as well as provide you with tips on managing the situation at home. So don’t fret – help is here!
What is bile?
Lots of owners recognise bile when they see their dog vomit it up – it’s a yellow-greenish, almost luminescent substance that sometimes has a strong acidic smell to it. But what exactly is bile and what is its function?
Bile is a digestive fluid produced by your dog’s liver and stored in the gallbladder that aids in the breakdown and absorption of fats. In dogs, bile also plays an important role in the excretion of waste products and toxins from the body. Not only is it important for digestion, but bile also helps regulate the pH balance within the small intestine, allowing for optimal nutrient absorption. So as you can see, the role bile plays in a dog’s overall health is essential. However, if a dog’s bile production is not functioning properly, it can lead to gastrointestinal issues and discomfort, often resulting in throwing up! Bile may not be the most pleasant of topics, but it’s certainly a crucial one when it comes to a dog’s health and digestion.
What are the main causes of a dog throwing up bile in the morning?
If you have ever woken up to find your furry friend has thrown up bile in the morning, you may be wondering what could be causing this unpleasant occurrence. Some of the top causes of a dog throwing up bile, specifically in the morning, include:
Acid Reflux/Gastritis: Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining that is often caused by a buildup of stomach acid. This acid is essential for digesting food and is continuously excreted from the stomach lining. However, if this acid builds up without the presence of food, such as overnight when your dog is asleep, then it can result in inflammation of the stomach wall and reflux. This can also stimulate the production of more bile and vomiting, resulting in discomfort for your dog – and vomiting in the morning. Feeding your dog a small meal before bed can help act as a buffer for acid build up and alleviate the symptoms.
Dehydration: Dehydration can also lead to dogs throwing up bile in the morning. This is because when a dog’s body is dehydrated, it tends to pull water from other sources such as the stomach and intestines. When this happens, the stomach acids become more concentrated and can irritate the lining of the stomach, leading to an upset tummy and overproduction of bile. The subsequent irritation often leads to vomiting in the morning. Be sure to provide your pup with plenty of fresh water throughout the day and restrict their activity or exercise until they have had time to rehydrate.
Liver and Pancreatic Disease: If your pup is throwing up bile in the morning and it continues to be a recurring issue, then it may be time to take them for a check-up with their veterinarian. Certain liver and pancreatic diseases, such as pancreatitis, can cause the body to produce too much bile or prevent its efficient absorption, both of which can lead to vomiting. If you notice other symptoms such as lethargy, abdominal pain or inappetence then take your dog to the vet; diagnostic tests such as a blood test and ultrasound scan can help to rule this out. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause but often involves fluid therapy, pain relief, gastroprotectants, liver supplements and sometimes antibiotics.
WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): IBD is an umbrella term used to describe a range of diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, such as food allergies and sensitivities, that result in inflammation of the intestinal tract. This reduces the mobility of the gut and it’s ability to keep food moving along, resulting in the buildup of bile and vomiting. The treatment for IBD will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition but may involve dietary changes, antibiotics or immunosuppressants drugs; so it’s important to get your dog checked out by your vet if you suspect they may have IBD.
Pregnancy: Similarly to morning sickness in people, pregnancy in female dogs can also be to blame for bile vomiting, especially during the early stages. This is because pregnancy hormones increase the production of stomach acids and this may lead to an irritable stomach and bile vomiting if left unchecked. It’s important to ensure your pregnant dog has plenty of water throughout the day and to feed her smaller, more frequent meals.
As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why your pup may be throwing up bile in the morning. If you’re concerned or worried then it’s best to take them to the vet for a check-up and appropriate treatment plan.
What are the home remedies to help a dog throwing up bile in the morning?
As a pet owner, it can be concerning to see your furry companion throwing up bile in the morning. While it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment, there are some home remedies that may help improve your dog’s condition. Some things you can try at home (after a call to your vet) include:
- Feed your dog small, frequent meals throughout the day to prevent an empty stomach.
- Feed a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice to help soothe the stomach.
- Add a small amount of ginger to your dog’s food to help alleviate nausea (peeled and chopped into small chunks to sprinkle over a dog’s food is best).
- Make sure your dog is properly hydrated by providing access to clean water at all times.
- Increase the amount of fiber in your dog’s diet to help with digestion. You can add things like pumpkin, cooked green beans, broccoli, oats or there are even special fibre supplements available for dogs.
- Add a probiotic such as these to your dog’s diet:
- 30-Count Boxes - Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements FortiFlora Dog Probiotic Supplement, Canine Nutritional Supplement
Remember, these remedies may provide temporary relief, but if your pup is still exhibiting signs of illness, or vomits for several days in a row, you should take them to the vet right away. You can also learn more with our article featuring several remedies to help a senior dog vomiting bile.
Is a dog throwing up bile in the morning a reason to be concerned?
This will depend on how frequently your dog is vomiting in the morning. If this is an isolated incident, then it may be caused by something as simple as eating too quickly or drinking contaminated water – there is generally no need to be concerned in these cases as long as the vomiting is a one-off. However, if the vomiting becomes more frequent or you notice other symptoms such as diarrhea or lethargy then it could indicate a more serious underlying condition. If left unchecked, prolonged vomiting can lead to diarrhea and dehydration – both of which are dangerous for your pet’s health.
When should you call a vet for help?
It’s important to call your vet for advice if:
- your pup is vomiting up bile frequently (any more than 3 times a day or vomiting on a daily basis would be described as ‘frequently’).
- your dog vomited and stopped eating
- your dog shows signs of distress such as lethargy.
Similarly, if the vomiting has persisted for multiple days in a row despite the home remedies listed above then you should seek advice. It’s also important to realize that a senior dog vomiting bile may be more of a cause for concern than a younger one, as older animals are more prone to illnesses and underlying medical issues.
Your vet will be able to diagnose the underlying cause – they will likely want to perform a blood test and even an ultrasound scan. They can then provide appropriate treatment or lifestyle changes to get your pup back on their feet.
How can I prevent my dog from throwing up in the morning?
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
Feeding a small meal before bedtime or feeding multiple smaller meals throughout the day can help prevent the build up of stomach acid and bile, thus reducing the liklihood of vomiting in the morning. Avoid feeding human food and too many rich or high fat treats as this can cause inflammation and acid reflux.
Should I feed my dog after they vomit up bile?
It’s important not to feed your pup immediately after they vomit as this may worsen their nausea. However, if you are sure the vomiting is an isolated incident, then after a few hours you can offer your dog a little bit of food; since vomiting bile can be caused by having an empty stomach this may help relieve any symptoms that your dog is experiencing.
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