Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
It Could Be an Empty Stomach
If your dog is throwing up bile (a yellowish liquid) in the early morning or in the middle of the night, it may simply be because it has an empty stomach.
This is most likely the case if the dog vomits at approximately the same time and also has a regular mealtimes.
Try Feeding the Dog a Small Meal Before Bedtime
The solution to this problem is often very straightforward: feed the dog a small meal right before bedtime.
This should help settle the stomach and ultimately solve the problem as the acid production would cease. Of course, this won't always work as there may be other potential causes for vomiting bile, so please see your vet if the problem continues.
When I used to work at the vet hospital and owners would call us about their dogs vomiting bile, they were often surprised to hear this simple solution. Some of them called us back to let us know how well it worked.
Here are two other things to try to see if they help stop these morning episodes.
Feed Dogs Twice Daily, Once After 7 PM
It also helps to ensure the dog gets fed at least twice a day, with the second meal after 7 PM. When dogs are fed only once a day, the stomach may stay empty for too long, which results in bilious vomiting syndrome.
In some cases, it may also help to divide the dog's daily food portion in three or four small feedings during the day.
Reduce Time Between Meals or Use Medication
If your dog is acting normal and eating and defecating normally, it helps to reduce the time in between meals, explains veterinarian Dr. Mary Fuller. For severe cases, veterinarians may prescribe famotidine (the active ingredient of Pepcid A/C).
In this case, famotidine will reduce acid secretion and prevent the chances for injury to the dog's esophageal mucosa. Some vets will use sulcralfate, omeprazole or even reglan instead.
Why Is the Vomit Yellow?
Bile Is Yellow
As if vomiting alone was not enough cause for concern, a dog vomiting bile may really fuel worrisome thoughts.
What could cause a dog to vomit yellowish liquid, especially in the morning or at night? Most dog owners end up feeling puzzled since they can't remember any foods that could cause such a coloring.
The most likely cause of the yellow is due to the presence of bile. This is a bitter tasting, yellowish fluid secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder.
This fluid, which aids in digestion and helps emulsify food, is normally released by the liver and directed to the small intestine where, among other things, it helps with the absorption of fats, according to Vet Info.
In a normal situation, the bile stays inside the dog and does its job helping with digestion.
Vomiting Results When There's Too Much Bile
A dog might vomit bile because excess acid in an empty stomach can irritate it and cause a vomiting episode. This creates a vicious cycle.
This is why if there is some food eaten during the night, chances are that less acid will develop and this will possibly solve the problem. The dynamics are quite similar to what happens in people suffering from acid reflux disease. Affected dogs are known by vets as suffering from "chronic bilous vomiting syndrome"
Irritable Bowel Disease
Another cause may be irritable bowel disease, which is often known by the acronym ''IBD." A mild form of IBD may cause dogs to have chronic irritation of their intestines which causes vomiting in a random matter. You might need to change their diet to highly digestible "sensitive stomach" formulations or possibly give the dog a bed time snack.
Drinking Too Much Water
If your dog's throwing up yellowish, foamy liquid after drinking water, it may be because the dog drank water and happened to vomit on an empty stomach.
If a dog has an upset stomach, drinking lots of water may further upset it. For this reason, it is recommended to give vomiting dogs ice cubes to lick about every four hours to prevent them from gulping down too much water and irritating the stomach, which needs to rest. Some dogs simply like to gulp tons of water at once, ultimately leading to an upset stomach.
Vomiting Bile and Grass
In some cases, you may notice your dog vomits bile along with grass during the night. This just means the dog wasn't able to digest the grass and has happened to vomit it up on an empty stomach.
There aren't usually other significant accompanying symptoms in the dog with morning vomiting episodes and the dog remains happy, active and hungry afterwards.
However, it is best to seek help from a veterinarian to identify the exact cause and come to a correct diagnosis. Your dog may be suffering from overproduction of bile or from an irritated stomach due to it being empty for too long.
In both cases, long term, left untreated, the symptoms may worsen and even lead to esophageal ulceration. There also may be some serious possibilities to consider such as irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal blockages, pancreatitis or food allergies to name just a few.
For more possible causes of vomiting bile see 'Why is my dog vomiting bile?"
For Further Reading
- Vet-Approved Dog Upset Stomach Home Remedies
Is your dog upset stomach causing problems? Learn some effective vet-approved natural home remedies to treat your dog's upset stomach at home. Easy to make dog bland diet recipe, straight from your kitchen's pantry!
- Causes of Vomiting Blood in Dogs
Have you noticed your dog is vomiting blood? Learn some of the serious and less serious causes.
- How to Rehydrate Your Dog After Vomiting
If your dog has been vomiting repeatedly, you'll need to do all you can to prevent dehydration. Things can get tricky though as often too much water may further upset the stomach.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2014 Adrienne Farricelli
Louise on April 07, 2018:
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.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 10, 2017:
Maybe see another vet? It could be your dog needs something more effective than over the counter pepcid like sucralfate ("Carafate") which is by prescription,. It is not good to keep this going, too much acid can cause ulcers in the long run. I would also ask the vet about doing blood tests to check her liver and kidney numbers.
Brandi on November 06, 2017:
Hi I gave my dog 13lbs pomeranian carprofin about 3 months ago bc she hurt her leg. About the 2nd month of giving it to her ,she started having bile throw up in the morning. I stopped giving it to her hoping it would stop but it didn't. She's been consistently heaving up bile almost every morning for 2 months. I give her a snack at night and right when she wakes up. (Trying to beat the empty stomach) if she doesn't throw up in the morning she does during afternoon .. almost no winning. I have been giving her a quarter tab of pepsidAC which isn't helping either. She's happy and plays and poops and eats normal. I dont know how to stop it.. the vet didnt seem worried but I am . I don't want her to throw up every day. Please help
Trish1204 on March 23, 2017:
We give our dog a bonio at 8pm and a few kibble at bedtime but she is still occasionally sick in the morning. Yellowy or white foam and rarely if ever any food content. When she is sick she always refuses breakfast and anything else during the day. However, once she has been to the toilet several (3-4) times (the last one is always a bit runny). she starts asking for food and eats normally at 6pm. I am wondering if other dogs who are sick also refuse food. It's almost as if she won't eat until she has cleared her system out. This is happening once a week or so. As from tomorrow we will try feeding her at 8pm instead of 6pm. Trouble is she is very much a creature of habit and will start pestering at 6pm. Will let you know if it changes things.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 15, 2017:
Andres, Many vets are aware of this and call it "bilious vomiting syndrome."
Andres on March 10, 2017:
Thank you so very much. I figured out by pure chance that my very sick doggy does better with a snack when she wakes up in crisis at night. But after many, many searches online, I finally see you confirming it. Really wish that i had seen this a while ago. And i really wish you could teach the vets and other websites about this. Thank you again
Lilly on September 03, 2016:
Thanks a ton! I read this article and added another meal to her diet and it worked wonders.. informative and helpful article :)
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 21, 2014:
Thanks! There are many dogs with this vomiting bile issue and the remedy is very simple! Glad to hear it helped your dog.
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on December 21, 2014:
I use to give my dog a large milk-bone in the evening and he stopped the vomiting. If I didn't we had that awful yellow stuff. Very informative hub.