Why Is My Dog Is Throwing Up Clear Liquid?

As dog owners, there is nothing worse than knowing that your pup is feeling unwell. Vomiting in itself is enough to cause concern in a dedicated dog parent, but clear vomit can lead to even more questions.

Most cases of clear liquid vomit is due to simply vomiting on an empty stomach, but what could cause this symptom in the first place?

In this article we will discuss the details of clear liquid vomit in dogs, and help you better understand how to help your canine companion through their GI upset.

What Is Clear Liquid Vomit In Dogs?

My Dog Is Throwing Up Clear Liquid

As we mentioned above, clear liquid vomit is typically a result of a dog vomiting on an empty stomach.

This can mean that your pup has not eaten anything in the last 6-12 hours, or they have already vomited up the contents of their stomach with previous retching.

This clear liquid substance is typically a combination of water, bile, and even a bit of foam.

Clear liquid vomit does not point to any illness specifically, but it can inform your vet of the fact that the dog has clearly not eaten in the hours leading up to their vomiting.

This can mean that a dog is too nauseous to eat, is unable to keep any food down, or may be struggling with an underlying GI condition.

What Is Clear Liquid Vomit With Foam In Dogs?

Before we discuss the possible causes of clear liquid vomit in dogs, it’s important to address something that is often present in the vomit itself; foam.

Clear liquid vomit and foam go hand in hand, often leading to even more concern when dog owners stumble upon a strange frothy liquid.

It’s important to realize that foam in dog vomit is simply a result of the vomit coming in contact with air, and usually develops during the dog’s retching process.

Air is often shifted back and forth in a dog’s mouth in the moments leading up to their vomit production, leading to an occurrence of frothy foam.

The presence of foam in vomit does not make your dog’s situation any more serious, but it could point to violent retching in some cases.

Foam or not, vomiting in dogs should always warrant veterinary attention.

What Causes A Dog To Throw Up Clear Liquid?

Though clear liquid vomit may just point out the fact that a dog is vomiting on an empty stomach, it’s still important to get to the cause of their vomiting in the first place.

Check out our Dog Vomit Color Guide to learn about what other colors might mean.

Ranging from eating things they should not to serious underlying conditions, vomiting in dogs can have multiple causes.

Dietary Indiscretion

Dietary indiscretion is the most common cause of GI upset in our canine friends.

Dietary indiscretion refers to a dog eating anything outside of their normal diet, ranging from fatty human scraps or items in the trash.

New items of food can throw off the balance of bacterial flora in a dog’s digestive tract, leading to symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.

Not only can dietary indiscretion cause a shift in a dog’s normal gut flora, but fatty foods can throw things off even more.

Eating unhealthy food items can cause irritation within a dog’s GI tract, even leading to serious complications like pancreatitis and HGE. Each of the conditions mentioned above can cause a dog to vomit, clear liquid vomit included.

Acid Reflux

Have you ever experienced a bad case of heartburn that causes you to feel nauseous?

Our dogs can experience this same sensation as well, as they can struggle with chronic cases of acid reflux just like you and I can.

Acid reflux in dogs occurs when bile from a dog’s GI tract makes its way back into the stomach. The presence of this acid causes serious irritation, often causing a dog to burp or vomit.

When a dog vomits due to acid reflux, it’s often clear or yellow liquid with the presence of foam. This is because the lack of food in their stomach led to even further irritation, resulting in the overwhelming nausea.

This is most common in the morning before a dog eats breakfast, or in the evening before they eat dinner.

Diet Changes

Similar to the effects of dietary indiscretion, abrupt diet changes can lead to vomiting in our canine friends.

Our dogs create the perfect balance of gut flora that helps to regulate their digestive system, and an abrupt diet switch can throw all this off.

It takes time for a dog’s body to adjust to the new diet, so doing this too quickly can lead to serious GI upset.

This is why it is so important to switch your dog over to a new diet over the span of 1-2 weeks, as this helps their body adjust to the new food without any uncomfortable GI upset.

If your dog is experiencing vomiting when starting them on a new diet, we suggest slowing down the transition even more.

Bacterial Infections

Harmful bacteria can be found everywhere in the world around our canine friends.

Whether found in your dog’s water bowl or on their favorite toys, bacteria can easily make its way into your dog’s GI tract.

Once these microscopic invaders have the chance to replicate in your dog’s body, GI upset is one of the most common results.

When a dog develops a bacterial infection, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and even lethargy.

These intestinal infections can make a dog so nauseous that they experience repetitive vomiting, eventually leading to clear liquid vomit once they have emptied the contents of their stomach.

Not only can bacterial infections cause vomiting in our pups, but they may also begin to shy away from their food.

This can further irritate an already upset stomach, causing them to vomit even more foamy bile.

Foreign Bodies

Foreign bodies are one of the more serious causes of clear liquid vomit in dogs.

A foreign body refers to an object or blockage in the GI tract that shouldn’t be there, leading to a life-threatening complication that requires immediate treatment.

When a dog eats something that their body is unable to digest, this can cause the item to become lodged at some point throughout its digestive journey.

This item can cause a blockage if it’s unable to pass normally, causing other digestive contents to build up in front of the blockage.

If digestive material cannot pass naturally, this will often lead to vomiting.

Not only does a foreign body or intestinal blockage cause vomiting, but it often causes violent or repetitive vomiting.

This increases the chance of clear liquid vomit even more, as they will likely throw up until their stomach is empty.

Infectious Illness

Just as our dogs can come in contact with bacteria in the world around them, they can also be exposed to multiple forms of infectious illness.

Infectious diseases can be found in every setting that our canine friends frequent, ranging from dog parks to animal shelters.

Contagious canine illnesses can be found on contaminated surfaces, in infected soil, and even in wastes that other dogs leave behind.

Infectious gastrointestinal conditions can wreak havoc on our canine friend’s health, often leading to repetitive vomiting.

Chronic GI Conditions

Though many cases of GI upset come and go in our furry friends, some conditions stick around for the long term.

Dogs can struggle with conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, and even GI cancers.

No matter the culprit behind their long-term GI struggles, many dogs can experience nausea and vomiting as a result.

When To See The Vet For Liquid Vomit In Dogs

If you stumble across a pile of clear liquid vomit in your home, you may wonder when it’s best to reach out to your vet for further guidance.

Though our first instinct may be to wait it out and watch our dogs closely as the hours pass, it’s always best to just contact your vet at the first sign of trouble.

Clear liquid vomit can be your dog’s way of telling you that not only are they experiencing severe nausea, but they may be shying away from their food for whatever reason.

Vomiting can dehydrate our dogs at a rapid rate, so we always suggest giving your vet a call at the first sign of vomiting.

How To Treat Liquid Vomit In Dogs

If you bring your dog to the vet for clear liquid vomit, there are a few paths that your veterinarian may take to get to the bottom of their symptoms.

First, your vet will likely gather a detailed history on their current symptoms, their standard diet, and any other changes in their behavior that could have led to their current struggles.

Once your vet is able to paint a clear picture of what’s going on at home, they will likely move on to diagnostics and treatment.

Any time a dog is vomiting, most vets will suggest performing diagnostic blood work and x-rays. The x-rays can help to rule out any GI obstructions and abnormalities in the digestive tract, while blood tests can rule out any metabolic abnormalities that could be causing their nausea.

The results of these diagnostics can dictate the treatment path they take, so we always suggest following your vet’s guidance based on their interpretation of the tests.

If your vet is able to rule out any major threats to your dog’s health in their diagnostics, they will likely turn to rehydration methods, anti-nausea medications, and GI antibiotics if they are warranted.

Your vet may even suggest offering your dog a bland diet until their GI upset resolves, as this can offer additional support as they recover.

If your dog is severely dehydrated or has been diagnosed with a major medical concern, your vet may suggest hospitalization and other forms of aggressive medical care.

The standard treatment options will vary based on how critical their case is, and how well your dog responds to medical treatment.

Your vet will know your dog’s situation best, so we always suggest just following your vet’s treatment recommendations.

Final Thoughts

Clear liquid vomit is a symptom of serious GI upset in our canine friends. No matter the cause of your dog’s sudden nausea, it’s always best to reach out to your vet from the moment you notice any signs of GI trouble. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can best help your dog’s upset stomach going forward.

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