Dog vomit: the colour of your dog’s vomit and what it might mean
Last Updated: 31/10/2023
If your dog is vomiting, you may be able to tell what’s causing it from the colour of their vomit. View our handy guide below.
Vomiting or regurgitation?
That’s right – there is a difference! Vomiting is when a dog fetches up partially digested food.
More often than not, you know it’s vomit because the dog will display warning signs such as retching noises and a contraction of their ribs and tummy.
Regurgitation is when a dog throws up undigested food. It often occurs soon after they’ve eaten and the regurgitated material will likely be visibly different to vomit. Dogs tend to regurgitate food without warning.
It’s important to recognise the difference between regurgitation and vomiting as they may be signs of different conditions.
Lots of things can cause sickness and diarrhoea in dogs, including:
- Worms (including tapeworm, roundworm and lungworm)
- Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach) and other stomach conditions
- Chocolate poisoning (including white chocolate)
- Eating mouldy food
- Ingesting a toxic plant
Read more: Identifying the causes of dog vomiting.
Just like humans, the colour of our dogs’ vomit can – and will – change depending on the cause. Some of these you may be expecting; others could be something of a shock.
Dogs’ vomit may be green if they’ve ingested a large quantity of grass. It could also mean that they’re just vomiting up bile.
What to do: Green vomit is rarely a cause for concern if it's a one-off. However, keep an eye on your dog if they produce green vomit - if they also seem unwell or if vomiting continues, contact your vet as soon as you can.
Read more: Why do dogs eat grass?
Yellow vomit is usually nothing to worry about, if it is a one off. Typically, it will consist mainly of bile but in a lesser quantity than in green vomit.
What to do: Clean up, but don’t worry too much unless symptoms persist. If they do, contact your vet.
This is rare. Typically, black vomit could be a sign of mud or dirt that your dog digested accidently while they were playing. If black vomit has a similar appearance to coffee granules, look at it closely; if you find that it’s actually a very, very dark red, this may be a sign of a stomach ulcer or an undigested toxin.
What to do: If you spot that the vomit is a very dark red rather than black, take your dog to see the vet as soon as you can.
Your dog may appear to be producing white vomit but in many cases, they could simply be coughing up white foam.
If it’s vomit… the likely causes will be an upset stomach, perhaps brought about from ingesting a small amount of grass. If your dog produces white vomit and you know they haven’t eaten in a while, they could be vomiting up bile from their stomach.
If it’s white foam… your dog is likely suffering from bloat or gastrointestinal problems. In these cases, they may be trying to vomit but not having much luck. This is classed as an emergency and will need immediate veterinary attention.
What to do: If it’s vomit, keep an eye out to see if symptoms persist and contact your vet if they do. If your dog is coughing up white foam, contact your vet as soon as you can.
Red vomit is usually a sign that your dog is vomiting blood. If the blood is fresh (a normal shade of red), this could mean trouble with the lining of their stomach or possible inflammation; alternatively, vomiting blood could be a response to a poisonous substance.
If blood is dark red, it has likely been in your dog’s system for a long time. This could be a sign of an ulcer.
What to do: If your dog is vomiting blood repeatedly or for a long period of time, contact your vet right away.
Read more: Protecting your dog from common poisons
Dark brown vomit
*Groans* We know what this one is! More often than not, dark brown vomit, especially if it smells strongly, is a sign that your dog has ingested too much poo.
It can also be a sign that there’s a blockage in their intestines.
What to do: if symptoms carry on or if your dog vomits excessively, it could be a sign of a blockage in their intestines. If in doubt, contact your vet.
If you’re concerned about your dog vomiting, or about any other aspect of their welfare, pop them down to your local vet.