Vomiting with Bile in Dogs

3 min read


Bilious Vomiting Syndrome in Dogs

Bile serves important functions in the digestion of food and removal of waste materials from the body. Bile is created in the liver and stored in the gallbladder until food has been ingested. It is then released into the small intestine to aid in digestion of food and to emulsify the food so that it can be used appropriately by the body.

Bilious vomiting syndrome occurs when bile abnormally enters the stomach from the intestine, causing irritation and vomiting. The presence of bile is indicated by a watery, yellow-green substance in the vomit contents. If vomiting does not occur and the bile remains in the stomach, the irritation to the stomach can lead to gastric reflux.

Vomiting is usually seen in the morning or late night just before eating, especially in dogs that are fed once daily. This might be due to prolonged periods between meals, or to related stomach inactivity, which aggravates the bile reflux.

This condition is commonly seen in older dogs but can occur at any age. Both genders are equally affected.


Symptoms and Types

  • Chronic intermittent vomiting containing bile
  • Usually takes place in the morning or late night
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss


  • The exact cause is still unknown
  • Diseases causing gastritis or inflammation of intestine, modifying gastrointestinal motility
  • It is presumed to be caused by stomach and intestinal reflux, which often occurs when a dog’s stomach has remained empty for a long period of time


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, a background history of symptoms, possible incidents that might have led to this condition, and recent activities. As much as you can, you will need to tell your veterinarian when the symptoms began, and how frequently the vomiting occurs.

Your veterinarian will then perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, with a complete blood profile, a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis.

A history of intermittent vomiting with bile contents is usually enough for a preliminary diagnosis. In the course of diagnosing this disease, laboratory testing is not of much help as the results are usually within normal ranges. Specific radiographic and ultrasound imaging studies of the abdomen may reveal delayed stomach motility. Endoscopic examination often returns normal in these patients.


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