If your dog is vomiting dark brown, there’s some real cause for concern.
Usually, the color of a dog’s vomit is based heavily on what they’ve been eating. Dog vomit may be colored by where it originated: green or yellow if it came from the small intestine (which contains bile) or clear if from an empty stomach. But dog vomit that appears dark brown in color may be caused by several serious issues at play.
Here are several reasons why your dog might be vomiting dark brown:
1. They May Have a Bleeding Ulcer
Bleeding stomach ulcers can create a dark brown pigment in your dog’s vomit. Irritation from the ulcer will also cause your dog to vomit. The dark brown color comes from the fact that the stomach acid has digested the blood and it may appear a little like coffee grounds.
Dog ulcers are often caused by the same issues that affect their owners:
- Bacterial infections
- Toxic substances
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- The ingestion of aspirin or NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs)
Check to see if your dog is experiencing dark black stools, weight loss, or anemia as these can be other signs of an ulcer.1
Treat gastric ulcers seriously, as they can be deadly for dogs.
2. They May Have an Intestinal Blockage
Dark colored dog vomit may mean that something is blocking your pup’s intestines. In this scenario, perhaps your pup ingested a bone, or a household object like a coin, button, or small toy. But it could also mean something a little more dangerous – like an abnormal growth.
Either way, accompanying symptoms may include loss of appetite, bloating, weakness, difficulty defecating, or abdominal pain. You should be especially concerned if the vomit is very foul smelling (more than the usual acidic smell).2
As with humans, if your dog is throwing up a lot they will become dehydrated which is a serious issue in itself. If your dog is vomiting a lot, exhibits a fever, abdominal swelling, or pain right after eating, you should get them to a vet as soon as possible. Blockages can be fatal.
3. They May Have Another Source of Bleeding
Unfortunately, there are several other sources of bleeding that could contribute to your dog vomiting dark brown. These include:
- Bleeding abnormal growths
- Gum disease
- Tick-borne diseases
- Parvovirus (a highly contagious, dangerous viral disease)
- Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis.3
A key warning sign for excess bleeding in your pooch is pale gums. Usually coupled with weakness.
Bottom line: A dog that is vomiting blood requires immediate medical attention. Get them to the vet as soon as possible.
4. They May Have Eaten a Dark Brown Food
Thankfully, sometimes it’s not a serious condition that you’re dealing with. Dogs often eat things like poop, dirt, chocolate, or something else on the brown color spectrum.
Even if you’re certain that it’s a dark colored food that your dog has eaten, it’s still always best to check for other symptoms if your dog is vomiting dark brown. Also, if you suspect the brown food your dog ate was chocolate, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet, since chocolate and dogs don’t mix well.
5. They May Have Eaten Feces
Dark brown vomit accompanied by a foul smell can also happen if your dog has ingested feces. Though this often horrifies owners, it’s extremely common for dogs to occasionally eat poop and is considered quite harmless. The only reason for concern is if they consume another animal’s poop that’s contaminated with parasites or viruses.4
Vomiting vs Regurgitation
It’s important to be able to differentiate between vomiting and regurgitation and understand that they’re not the same thing.
Vomiting or throwing up originates from the stomach or small intestine. Vomit can look like un- or partially-digested food or clear liquid when it comes from the stomach, and yellow or greenish liquid or semi-solid matter when it comes from the upper small intestine where bile comes from. Throwing up usually involves some kind of very audible retching sound.
Regurgitation, on the other hand, originates in the esophagus and is extremely sudden. It’s vital that you get to know the difference as they require very different treatments.5
What Should I Do If My Dog Is Vomiting Dark Brown?
The best way to ensure the health of your best friend is to treat them like you’d treat any member of the family – if you’re worried get them to a doctor asap.
Both vomiting blood and bloody diarrhea can be the warning signs of some very serious conditions. Blood loss can lead to serious consequences for other organs and it can be fatal. But stay calm, your vet will know exactly how to proceed.
A veterinarian is able to perform a thorough exam, run tests, as well as take X-rays and other scans.
If a blockage is caught early you may be able to avoid surgery and have it removed by a procedure called endoscopy. But if blood loss to tissues occurs due to waiting, necrosis (where the cells in an organ or tissue die) may occur.
Ulcers can usually be easily managed with diet and lifestyle if they’re not too severe, but a vet will need to properly assess the damage first.
Ultimately, if your dog is vomiting dark brown and you’re gut is telling you something isn’t quite right, go and have it checked by your vet. No one wants their best friend to suffer and, at the very least, it’ll ease the human anxiety.
For more dog health tips, keep reading here:
Is Dog Diarrhea a Problem For Your Pooch? DIY Home Remedies
Mucus In Your Dog’s Stool: What’s Normal, What’s Not?
Dog Constipation: Causes and How to Fix It?