What Are the Causes of Dogs Vomiting White Foam?

By Esperance Barretto

Having a furry friend can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever, but watching them get sick can be the worst. You might know the basics like if they have a cold or what to do to rehydrate them, but watching your dog throw up a white foam of vomit is an alarming experience. The health implications behind why dogs vomit white foam are varied, and range from mild to severe. So, it's important to observe your dog's symptoms and vomit in order to diagnose and treat the underlying causes behind it.

Family with sick dog sitting in veterinary clinic waiting room
If your dog is vomiting white foam, it could be a symptom of various diseases.
credit: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Indigestion

An upset stomach is the most frequent cause of a dog vomiting white foam according to Animal Hospitals USA. Sometimes, dogs cough up a thick and foamy, white vomit when they eat too fast, ingest inedible material like dirt or weeds, drink water too fast, or just finish exercising. Vomiting is simply the body's way of expelling substances that are not beneficial for the dog's system. However, if the vomit persists, you should consult your veterinarian to ensure that your dog has not swallowed a toy or any other indigestible material that may need surgical intervention.

Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

Your dog also may be suffering from bilious vomiting syndrome if he throws up a whitish-yellow foam as soon as he rises in the morning. Also known as reflux gastritis, bilious vomiting syndrome is a common digestive disorder in dogs, resulting from an accumulation of acids in the dog's stomach. According to Vet Info, bilious vomiting syndrome is treatable with fasting and a bland diet comprising of boiled rice and chicken to soothe the stomach and reduce acid build-up. However, if the vomiting persists, your dog could be suffering from an inflammatory bowel disease, and should receive prompt medical attention.

Bloat

Bloat is a potentially life-threatening cause of white foam vomit in dogs. Global Span states that bloat is the second leading killer in dogs after cancer. Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, bloat occurs from an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid or foam in the stomach. This causes the stomach to bloat, rotate and trap air, food and water, simultaneously obstructing the abdominal veins, damaging the internal organs and causing death. The white foam vomit is accompanied by other symptoms including a bloated abdomen, restlessness, unproductive attempts to vomit and defecate, hunched-up appearance, pale gums, coughing, salivating and excessive drooling.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is an upper respiratory disease. American Kennel Club describes this canine infection as caused by an airborne bacterium, Bordetella bronchiseptica. A dog with kennel cough develops a dry, hacking cough all day, which is accompanied by retching and at times, a white foamy vomit. Conjunctivitis, rhinitis — an inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane — and a nasal discharge, are other symptoms that accompany a kennel cough. Most cases of kennel cough are not serious and clear within two weeks.

Rabies

White foam vomit has historically been associated with dogs as a rabies symptom and is an end-stage rabies symptom, and appears after the dog has displayed other rabies symptoms like severe aggression. The white foam vomit in rabies occurs as a result of mouth and throat nerve damage that renders the dog incapable of swallowing food. However, if your dog has received all the proper vaccines, white foam vomit may not be symptomatic of rabies.