Most dog owners know the situation: your dog has vomited and you find the leftovers in your own four walls - not a pretty sight. But what is the reason for the sudden vomiting? Is it an isolated case or is there a disease, allergy or poison behind the mucus or foam? Do you have to go to the vet and what do the colour and consistency tell you about the cause? Time for an overview, admittedly not quite so appetising, so that you will soon know what vomiting bile, white mucus or brown liquid means.
When your dog vomits... these are the causes of vomiting
Just as with us humans, the reasons for vomiting in dogs are very varied. They range from harmless to life-threatening and it takes a trained eye when looking at the vomit to rule out dangerous causes. Accompanying symptoms, such as listlessness, also play an important role in assessing the situation. In harmless cases, vomiting is caused by eating the last meal too quickly. Too much food is also often vomited.
But there may be more to it than that. First of all, the food should be checked for its shelf life, because spoiled food also leads to rapid vomiting. Vomiting is also a common reaction when a foreign body is swallowed. Similar to humans, stress, nervousness and fear can also affect the stomach. In worse cases, there is a disease behind the vomiting, such as an inflammation of the stomach lining, tumours, infectious diseases or perhaps diabetes. In these cases, vomiting usually occurs more frequently and should be examined by a doctor. However, persistent, spontaneous vomiting can also be caused by poisoning, which you also need to treat as soon as possible.
Signs of vomiting in dogs
There are some signs that herald the mishap before it happens. Often dogs that are nauseous seem very restless and keep wandering aimlessly. Frequent smacking, yawning or gulping are also clear signs: Something is wrong here! If you observe these signs in your dog, take care of him. A bit of moderate exercise and a light diet can sometimes help to prevent the disaster. If the (un)digested food simply has to go, you should remove it quickly afterwards so that your pelt-nose doesn't eat it.
Exception: If you know for sure that your dog is only vomiting because he ate his food like a maniac a short time before, he may eat the "pre-chewed" portion again.
White mucus, yellow foam, undigested food: what appearance and consistency reveal about vomit
"Amy is vomiting yellow foam" - no dog owner likes to hear that. And: Yes, unfortunately it's getting a bit disgusting now. But your pelt-nose is certainly worth it. To assess whether vomit is harmless or even life-threatening, you need to look at the consistency and colour. Foam, mucus, liquid... with or without crumbs, these are the important observation criteria. We explain what you should look out for and what the possible causes could be.
Yellow foam or mucus
If your dog's vomit has a significant yellow colour, is free of food debris and has a foamy to slimy consistency, it is likely to be bile. Bile is an important digestive fluid. If it is vomited, this indicates a disorder or irritation in the gastrointestinal tract. Often there is nothing serious behind it. However, if this type of vomiting occurs more frequently, a veterinarian should be consulted. Not only harmless causes, but also poisoning or a parasite infestation can be behind it.
White foam or mucus
If your dog vomits white, viscous mucus or foam, be careful. The sputum may indicate that your dog has swallowed a foreign body that is now in the gastrointestinal tract. This happens quickly when a dog swallows something that cannot be digested. Pay attention to whether your dog vomits more often and if in doubt, consult a vet.
Brown vomit is not uncommon. The colouring occurs when food is mixed and digested in the stomach. So if the dog vomits brown, there is usually nothing dramatic behind it. Especially the greedy gobblers among dogs often eat much too fast - and the food often comes up again. A remedy for this is an anti-gulping bowl. It keeps Bello from eating too fast and makes the stomach feel calmer. If vomiting still occurs, it needs to be examined by a specialist.
Sometimes vomit also contains blood. Most dog owners then quickly panic. Stay calm! Blood in vomit does not always have to mean something bad. It depends on the colour and consistency. If the blood is rather light and appears as pink mucus, this indicates an injury of the upper digestive tract or the mouth. Such an injury is often harmless. However, if the blood is dark, a visit to the vet should be arranged quickly. Dark blood in vomit may indicate a disease in the intestine or even a tumour.
Dog vomiting water
When a dog has a gastrointestinal infection, it wants to keep emptying its stomach, even if it is already completely empty. In this case, a dog often vomits water in gushes. It is important to treat the infection well, otherwise there is a risk that your dog will become dehydrated.
Undigested food is especially likely to be vomited if there is an intolerance or allergy. Therefore, watch your dog closely and if in doubt, have him tested for intolerances. If the vomiting of food is an isolated case, it may also be that your dog ate something that was difficult to digest, such as a plant.
Dog vomits faeces
Alert! If your dog vomits faeces, you must go to the vet as soon as possible. This indicates an intestinal obstruction, which is life-threatening. Intestinal obstruction can have various causes, but it must always be treated medically.
What if the dog cannot vomit?
Sometimes dogs gag repeatedly but nothing really likes to come. This behaviour should also be observed very well (but not for too long) and treated if it recurs. It may be that gastric torsion is behind the unusual behaviour. In this condition, the stomach turns on its own axis and this is life-threatening.
Should I go to the vet?
Whether it's yellow foam, undigested food, blood or bile: if your dog vomits several times, a visit to the vet is always the right decision, as more serious illnesses may be behind it and there is a risk of dehydration. So you can trust your gut feeling and it is better to visit the vet once too often than once too little.