What Are the Causes of Dogs Vomiting White Foam?

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What Are the Causes of Dogs Vomiting White Foam?

It's said that if you are not feeling well, you should never look up your health issues online, or you might start thinking the symptoms of your common cold are something that could kill you. The same can sometimes be true about looking up information about your pet's health. We spoke with Dr. Shagufta Mulla, a veterinarian with a DVM degree from Colorado State University with 20 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian, to find out more.


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The good news is that if your dog is throwing up white foam, you're probably in the clear because it is usually not a cause for serious concern. Of course, in most cases, it is better to have them looked over by a veterinarian just to be sure. As a pet parent concerned with your dog's health, there are several reasons your dog might have these vomiting episodes.

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A dog throwing up white foam could have indigestion

One of the most common reasons for a dog to be vomiting white foam or slime is simply because they have indigestion.‌ Dogs get indigestion just as often as people, only vomiting is a more common symptom in canines. Usually, when dogs throw up white foam, it is just to expel the substance that's causing an upset stomach.


Indigestion can be caused by eating or drinking too fast, eating too much, consuming too much human food, eating trash, eating too much grass, having an issue with something in their food, or many other things that can upset a stomach. While it's a common belief that dogs start eating grass to throw up when they have an empty stomach, this usually isn't true. Some dogs eat grass when they're bored. Eating grass is also their way of consuming roughage, just like humans eat salads.


As long as your dog's regurgitation isn't happening too frequently, you shouldn't be too concerned. If they do have these types of symptoms regularly, check their dog food because they could have an issue with one of the ingredients, or they may be eating too quickly. You can try giving your dog a spoonful of pumpkin to see if that soothes their digestive system. If they continue vomiting or are doing so on a regular basis, take your dog to your DVM.


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Acid reflux symptoms in dogs

"If your dog tends to regurgitate fluid or vomit white or yellow foam before eating in the morning, your pooch might have acid reflux," says Dr. Mulla. "Stomach acid can be regurgitated without vomiting. Reflux happens suddenly and your dog will spit out stomach acid without his belly contracting."



Reflux happens when your dog's gastrointestinal tract is irritated by stomach acid. This is more problematic when the stomach is empty. Reducing the amount of food your dog eats at each feeding and feeding them more often can help prevent acid reflux symptoms, reduce discomfort stemming from the dog's stomach, and reduce the likelihood that they'll vomit.


Recognizing a dog coughing up foam

It is important to note that it can be easy to mistake vomiting up white foam for coughing, which can result in white foam since saliva becomes foamy vomit when filled with air. "With vomiting, you'll see your dog's belly contracting," says Dr. Mulla. This is a common mistake to make, and dogs coughing up white foam and clear liquid could have kennel cough or heart failure. Also, "some dogs afflicted with kennel cough might cough to the point of gagging or retching," explains Dr. Mulla.


Kennel cough is sort of like the dog version of a common cold, as it is incredibly contagious but usually mild, generally clearing up on its own after a week or two. "But in some cases of bacterial kennel cough, your veterinarian might prescribe an antibiotic," says Dr. Mulla. "Kennel cough can be viral or it can be bacterial." The most common symptom is a notable hacking cough that sometimes produces white foam, although other symptoms can include lethargy, a runny nose, and loss of appetite.

"You can help prevent your dog from getting some of the causes of kennel cough by ensuring their Bordetella, adenovirus, and parainfluenza vaccines are up to date," says Dr. Mulla.

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When to seek help for your dog immediately

While most cases of a dog vomiting white foam are nothing more than indigestion, it can be a symptom of something much more dangerous. A dog vomiting white foam could also be showing signs of parvovirus, pancreatitis, a foreign body in the stomach or intestines, kidney disease, or bloat.


If your dog demonstrates any of the following symptoms, they could have a potentially deadly condition and should immediately be brought to the veterinarian:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fever
  • Can't poop
  • Lowering the head and front legs while keeping the rear end in the air
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pale gums
  • Problems urinating
  • Weakness
  • Repeated vomiting that won't stop

The bottom line

Canines throw up white foam for a variety of common causes: acid reflux, indigestion, kennel cough, or in rare instances, a life-threatening reason. If your dog is producing white foamy vomit, remember that there are many possible causes but be on the lookout for the signs of a more serious issue. If your dog's stomach upset is persistent, get them veterinary care as soon as possible.



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