Bilious Vomiting Syndrome in Dogs

Bilious vomiting syndrome is somewhat recurrent in dogs of all breeds (including beagle) and mostly in older dogs. 

What is Bilious Vomiting Syndrome (BVS)?

Bilious vomiting syndrome (BVS) occurs when bile abnormally enters the stomach causing irritation of the intestine and vomiting. The presence of bile is identified in the vomit content as a yellow-green liquid substance. If vomiting does not occur, bile stays in the stomach and can cause irritation and gastric reflux.

The bile important functions for the digestion of food and removal of waste materials from the body. It is formed in the liver and stored in the gallbladder when food is ingested. It is released in the small intestine to aid digestion by emulsifying the food so that it can be used properly by the body. The vomiting usually occurs in the morning or late at night, just before eating, especially in dogs that are fed once a day. This may be due to prolonged periods between meals, or the inactivity of the stomach, which aggravates bile reflux. This condition is commonly seen in older dogs but can occur at any age. Both sexes (male and female dogs) are equally affected.

What Causes BVS?

  • The exact cause is still unknown.
  • Diseases that cause gastritis or inflammation of the intestine, modification of gastrointestinal motility
  • It is presumed to occur when the dog’s stomach remains empty for a long period of time. Ie spaced feeding.

Signs of Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

  1. Chronic vomiting with bile content
  2. Abdominal discomfort
  3. Sickness
  4. Lack of appetite
  5. Weight loss

Vomiting is generally seen first thing in the morning, especially in dogs that are fed once a day. This could be due to prolonged periods between meals, or to inactivity related to the stomach, which exacerbates bile reflux.

Whatever the underlying cause, most dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome respond very well to a simple form of treatment – feeding them their normal food, just before bedtime and again first thing in the morning. It is not recommended to change the dog’s food while changing the feeding schedule.

Diagnosis of Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

If dog feeding is late at night and early in the morning and doesn’t make things better, it is recommended to take the dog to the vet. You will need to give a complete history of your dog’s health with symptoms, recent activities, and possible incidents that may have led to this condition. As with every detail, you will need to inform your vet when symptoms started and how often vomiting occurs. Your vet will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, with a complete blood profile, a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis.

Treatment of Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

When you suspect that your dog suspected of having bilious vomiting syndrome does not improve with more frequent feeding and other causes of chronic vomiting have been ruled out, medications may be added to the treatment plan. Some dogs respond to drugs that reduce gastric acidity such as famotidine or omeprazole, while others do better with metoclopramide, a medicine that increases the frequency of contractions in the small intestine, or maropitant, a broad spectrum of anti-vomiting medications.

Even when dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome are treated with medication, they should continue to eat late at night and early in the morning. If this is a drawback, an automatic feeder is a worthwhile investment.

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