No matter how many times you try to stop your dog from getting themselves into trouble, they always manage to find a way to chew up your favorite pillow or eat something they definitely shouldn’t.
These little things can make owning a dog frustrating at times, even if they don’t suffer any serious consequences for their impulsive actions. That is until your dog is throwing up foam.
Once this consequence comes knocking, you may wonder, “Why is my dog is throwing up white foam? Should I call the vet? Are they okay?”
Don’t worry – we have all the answers you need. Let’s dive into what this condition is, when your dog needs medical attention, and how you can help them avoid this situation in the future.
Why Is My Dog Vomiting White Foam?
Before taking your dog to the vet, you need to verify the difference between regurgitation and vomit.
- Regurgitation – If you notice your dog throwing up visible chunks of food that have clearly not been digested yet, then that is regurgitation. Regurgitation is usually not serious and may just be a sign that your dog has eaten their food too fast. Their body then naturally expels it, so they can try again without harming their digestive tract. It’s gross, sure, but it’s not dangerous.
- Vomit – Vomit, on the other hand, is food that has already been digested and is mostly liquid. It may be a greenish or yellowish color due to your dog’s bile salts. Vomit is a far more serious concern for dogs than it is for humans, as it can be a sign of disease.
If you are still uncertain about whether your dog has vomited or simply regurgitated its food, then it’s best to consult your veterinarian on the matter.
Typically, a dog throwing up white foam is a sign that they are having issues with their digestive tract. In order to determine the actual cause of these issues, you must watch how they behave afterwards, so you know how quickly to seek out medical attention.
The most common causes of this condition, as well as the symptoms for each of them, are listed below.
Ingestion of a Foreign Object
If your dog gets sick once and then returns to normal after throwing up, then they most likely ate something bad. This can cause your dog to have an upset stomach, indigestion, or intestinal blockages, any of which may lead to them then vomiting white foam.
If you’re certain your dog has ingested some foreign object, then take note of what small, loose items that might be in your dog’s reach. Find a way to better secure them.
You should especially keep household items that are well-known to be toxic to dogs (such as household cleaners or pesticides directed toward insects or rodents) as far away from them as possible.
Store these household chemicals in tightly-capped, shatterproof containers that you keep out of your dog’s reach. If you need to put out rat, roach, or mouse traps, be sure to also place them in an area your dog cannot reach.
Keep in mind that there are many common foods and plants that are toxic to dogs as well.
Some examples of inside plants that are poisonous to dogs include:
- Aloe Vera.
- Elephant’s Ear.
- Emerald Fern.
- Weeping Fig.
Some examples of outside plants that are poisonous to dogs include:
- Morning Glory.
- Green Potato.
There are also several human foods or parts of certain foods that can be toxic for your dog to ingest. Be sure to keep these foods away from your pooch:
- All parts of an avocado can be toxic to dogs. Be mindful to mop up any guacamole you might accidentally drop on the floor!
- Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a chemical that acts as a cardiac stimulant that is fatal to dogs.
- Most fruit pits and seeds contain cyanide, a poisonous substance for both humans and pets if ingested in large quantities.
- Garlic contains a small amount of thiosulphate, a chemical that can be toxic for dogs if ingested in large quantities. Keep in mind that this chemical can build up in the system, so even if your dog seems fine after eating garlic at first, it may have adverse effects on their health later.
- Both grapes and raisins can adversely affect a dog’s kidneys.
- Macadamia nuts can adversely affect your dog’s nervous system.
- Mushrooms may damage your dog’s nervous system, kidneys, and/or heart.
- Nutmeg can cause seizures and damage to their central nervous system.
- Onions contain larger amounts of thiosulphate, the same toxic chemical that is in garlic.
- Sugar-free foods contain xylitol, which can cause liver failure in dogs.
- Certain parts of tomatoes, potatoes, and rhubarb contain oxalates, which are toxic to dogs.
Preparing and decorating your home for the holidays often means introducing new, holiday-specific plants and foods into your home.
While this may make your home look nice and cheery, it also means that you’re introducing poisonous substances to your dog.
Many of the decorative plants hung during Christmas – such as holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias, for example – are quite toxic for dogs. A curious munch could spell disaster.
During Easter, you may want to plant lilies or tulips, but these are generally toxic for dogs as well.
While every dog owner is constantly reminded that chocolate is poisonous to dogs (especially around Halloween), most owners may not know that excessive sugar can be quite poisonous for them, too.
During Thanksgiving, be wary of feeding your dog too many leftovers. Too much fat intake, especially over a short period of time, can cause heart and liver problems for your dog.
If your dog throws up several times in a day or continuously for more than a couple of days in a row, then they may have contracted a disease.
Has your dog recently stayed in close quarters with other dogs, over an extended period of time? Whether it was at a kennel or a friend’s place, if they are now coughing up white foam, then they may have contracted kennel cough.
Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection that is identified by a dog’s hacking or honking cough, which may also produce white foam.
Other symptoms of kennel cough include having a runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, and/or a loss of appetite. This disease, while very contagious, is actually quite mild and usually clears up on its own within 7 to 10 days.
Parvovirus is a highly infectious virus that comes in two forms—intestinal and the rare cardiac form. It typically affects puppies and very young dogs and can be contracted from ingesting an infected dog’s feces.
One of the early signs your dog has contracted parvovirus is if they vomit white foam. Other symptoms include bloody diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and rapid dehydration.
Luckily, this disease is easily preventable if you give your dog the appropriate vaccines and boosters.
Here’s a video with more details on parvovirus.
While you may immediately associate a dog foaming at the mouth with rabies, this disease is usually at the very bottom of a veterinarian’s prognosis.
You will know right away if your dog has rabies, as they will display unusually aggressive behavior towards you on top of vomiting white foam.
Rabies can be prevented if you have given your dog the appropriate vaccines and boosters.
If you notice that your dog is specifically throwing up in the morning, then they might be suffering from acid reflux. This occurs when acid has built up in their stomach overnight.
Your dog’s stomach may become bloated if a combination of air and intestinal fluids build up in their digestive system. Bloating in dogs is an extremely serious condition that can, unfortunately, be fatal if left alone.
In the worst-case scenario, a dog’s stomach may literally become twisted from its normal position in the abdomen, which can trap air, food, and fluids in the stomach, as well as restrict the blood flow.
Before the flow in and out of your dog’s stomach becomes cut off, your dog will start to vomit white foam. Other symptoms include constipation, increased drooling, coughing, and/or pale gums.
This condition is most common in deep-chested adult and senior dogs.
Because most dogs like to curiously sniff, scratch at, or dig into things, they may pick up a few contaminated fungal organisms.
If ingested or inhaled, a fungal organism can cause an infection that, in turn, may give your dog a harsh cough or make them vomit white foam.
Your dog can easily catch a fungal organism from messing around with soil that contains bird, poultry, or bat feces.
Dogs that suffer from canine diabetes are also at increased risk for developing pancreatitis, which is when your dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed.
The swelling or inflammation of the pancreas interrupts your dog’s normal digestive functions. As such, the food they eat cannot be properly or regularly broken down, processed, and eliminated.
Your dog’s digestive system then has limited options for getting rid of this excess food in their stomach, which can result in constant vomiting and pain. The white foam they vomit as a result may also be linked to their diabetes.
Other symptoms may include your dog remaining in a hunched-over position due to pain, as well as noticeable abdominal pain and fever.
What to Do When Your Dog Vomits White Foam
Watching your dog’s behavior during and after they vomit is crucial to determining the severity of their pain.
If your dog appears to behave normally outside of their occasional vomiting, then you can wait a little longer to see if they develop a more serious medical issue.
However, if you notice that your dog is lethargic, has a tender abdomen, or refuses food on top of constant vomiting, then you will need to take them to the vet to have them checked out.
In most cases, they may simply prescribe pet medication to alleviate these symptoms.
When to See Your Vet
If your dog is still a puppy, old, or has pre-existing medical problems, then you need to see your veterinarian immediately when they throw up white foam.
Even if they find nothing seriously wrong with them, they can still treat your dog for dehydration, which will undoubtedly result from all their vomiting.
If your dog has regular episodes of vomiting white foam, you notice that they are behaving strangely, you notice that they don’t look well, or they have several bouts of diarrhea, then you should see your vet right away.
If your dog ate a foreign object or suffers from indigestion or acid reflux, then you don’t need to take them to the vet.
Simply hold off on giving them any kind of food or water for the next 12 to 24 hours, so as to allow the stomach lining to settle. Any further ingestion may just make them vomit all over again.
If they display no other worrying symptoms, then slowly introduce them to a diet of plain chicken, boiled rice, and low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese for a few days. This bland diet may help decrease any further acid reflux.
Gradually introduce them to their regular diets again a few days after they appear to tolerate this. If this vomiting occurs frequently after they eat, however, then you should consult your veterinarian on what to do next.
If your dog is suffering from parvovirus, rabies, bloating, or pancreatitis, then you must take them to your vet right away. Early treatment for these conditions is crucial!
This video goes into more detail on dog vomiting.
Dogs are bound to get themselves into all kinds of trouble, no matter their age. If you notice your dog throwing up white foam, however, then this could mean something serious.
Make sure you follow the helpful tips above, and to always consult your vet if you are still unsure of how to help your beloved canine.
Have you ever dealt with your dog vomiting white foam?