Why is My Dog Vomiting White Phlegm?

You just noticed that your dog is vomiting white foam slime, and so many questions are racing through your head. Why is my dog coughing up this thick white mucus? Did he eat something bad? Did he get into the garbage? Did he swallow a stick or a foreign object? Is he going to be OK?

Cute German Shepherd in a blanket on bed.
Normally if your dog is coughing white phlegm you shouldn't have to worry.
credit: Korneeva_Kristina/iStock/GettyImages

It can be sad to see your dog in this state. However, by doing a little research and taking him to the veterinarian as soon as possible, you can figure out the root cause of your dog vomiting white foam slime and make sure that he gets better as soon as possible.

Dogs coughing up thick white mucus

Your dog may be simply coughing up the white phlegm, or your dog is coughing up white foam and clear liquid. Either way, when your dog is vomiting white foam slime, it usually is not much of a cause for concern. There are a few causes of this happening. For instance, dogs experience indigestion, and your dog's body may be trying to rid itself of something that is hurting in the stomach.

Your dog may have eaten her food or drank her water a bit too fast, and now she has an upset stomach. The vomiting relieves that bad feeling. Perhaps your dog has kennel cough, a mild sickness that dogs contract from one another. It usually goes away within seven to 10 days, but it can result in your dog coughing up white foam and clear liquid. Your dog will also have a hacking cough if she does indeed have kennel cough.

Like humans, dogs get acid reflux as well, and that can lead to a dog vomiting white foam slime. Making sure that your dog eats smaller meals more frequently can prevent the stomach from accumulating the acid and bile that cause acid reflux in the first place.

Serious sicknesses in dogs

In some cases, your dog vomiting white foam slime can signal a much bigger issue. He may have bloat, for example, which causes a dog's stomach to expand. Along with throwing up, your dog may also cough, be constipated, and drool excessively if he is experiencing bloat. If you notice these symptoms, you need to take him to the vet or the pet emergency room right away since bloat can be deadly.

Pancreatitis is another disease where one of the symptoms is your dog vomiting white foam slime. It is marked by inflammation in the pancreas, and other symptoms include weakness, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite. Again, your dog will need help right away if he has this illness.

Some puppies get parvovirus, which results in your dog vomiting white foam slime. Your puppy may also have a fever, be lethargic, and have bloody diarrhea. If your dog has kidney disease, he might cough up white foam and have trouble urinating, be lethargic, and experience disorientation. If you notice any parovirus or kidney disease symptoms, go to the vet or pet ER as soon as possible.

Treating your dog

Once you've taken your dog to the vet and figured out what's happening, your vet is likely to recommend a few things. You may have to restrict your dog's food or at least alter her diet until she starts to feel better.

Typically, you'll feed your dog simple foods like bland chicken and rice in small quantities. Your vet may also recommend putting bananas, oatmeal, and pumpkin into your dog's food to help her upset stomach. Once you see that she is eating this food and getting a little better, you can slowly switch back to her regular dog food.

Following prevention practices

The best way to help your dog is to prevent him from vomiting in the first place. If you're feeding your pup low-quality dog food, it may not agree with his stomach, so you'll have to switch to a better brand. You can ask your veterinarian what type of food your dog will need. For instance, if he's older, he'll need a senior formula, and if he is of a certain breed that has indigestion issues when it comes to various foods, you'll want a dog food that does not include those harmful ingredients.

Let's say your dog throws up a lot because he is eating too fast. You can slow down his feeding times in a number of ways. You can purchase a slow-feeder bowl that is designed to make wolfing down food impossible. If you have the time, you can hand feed your dog or play hide and seek with his food outside by placing small quantities of it around the yard.

Another creative way to slow down eating is to put your dog's food into individual muffin tins so that he has to go from tin to tin to get what he wants. If you have a cookie sheet, you can spread his food around it, which means he'll have to lick up the food instead of eating it in a few quick bites.

Addressing water issues

To stop your dog from drinking too fast, you also have a few different choices. You can get another slow-feeder bowl and fill it with water instead. You also need to make sure you're giving your dog enough water in the first place or else she'll become dehydrated and gulp up water quickly when she sees it.

The general rule is to give your adult pup around 1 ounce of water per each pound of her body weight every day, but puppies drink a lot more. They need around half a cup of water every two hours. If your dog has issues with drinking water, you can always give her ice cubes as well. When going out for a walk, especially on a hot summer day, make sure you take some water for your dog to sip on so she's not parched by the time you get home.

Taking the necessary precautions can hopefully keep your dog from vomiting white foam slime and ensure she is as happy and comfortable as possible at all times.