If only our furry friends could talk! When pets get physically sick or start acting out of character, it's hard to know if it's something serious or just a passing issue. Should we call the vet or will this problem settle itself? These questions are common when dogs vomit white foam. Like many other concerns that can arise with our pets, the seriousness of white foam varies, and it all depends on the cause.
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Indigestion - The least concerning reason for a white foam upchuck is simple: an upset stomach. Canines often vomit white foam after eating something that disagrees with them, like grass, dirt and other indigestible items that the body needs to expel. Dogs who eat their food or drink water too quickly, as well as those who have just finished exercising, are at greater risk of indigestion.
Vomiting due to indigestion usually resolves itself after a time or two, but if the sickness persists, contact your veterinarian to ensure there's not something more serious going on.
Acid Reflux - Like their human counterparts, some dogs can experience acid reflux, also known as reflux gastritis. This could be the explanation if your pet is commonly vomiting white foam in the morning, which is often the result of a buildup of acid overnight. Sometimes a simple, temporary diet of plain cooked chicken and boiled rice can help remedy the issue, while other cases may require a longer-term diet solution or medication.
Kennel Cough - Similar to the common cold humans experience, upper respiratory infections are fairly commonplace among canines, particularly those in close quarters, like shelters, kennels or homes with many critters. These infections clog up nasal passages, cause dry coughs and sneezing, and can also lead to vomiting white foam. With proper care, these infections often clear up within a few days. Keep in mind that frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration, so if it occurs often, be on the safe side and contact your trusted vet.
Bloat - Bloat -- a.k.a. gastric dilation volvulus (GDV) -- is a dangerous issue with a quick onset that is treatable if caught in time. This life-threatening condition is caused by the buildup of gas, food or fluid in a dog's stomach, which then puts pressure on organs as it expands. Bloat most often occurs in deep-chested dogs like German Shepherds, Great Danes, Boxers and Dobermans, among others. In some cases, a canine's stomach can twist or rotate, resulting in blood that's trapped in the stomach and unable to travel to vital organs.
If vomiting white foam is accompanied by labored breathing, restlessness, pacing or collapse, get your dog to an animal hospital or vet ASAP.
Kidney Disease - Also known as renal disease, this issue is serious and most often affects dogs in their senior years. Canines facing this medical condition usually have an increased desire for water, a decreased appetite for food, subsequent weight loss and a reluctance to move. If you notice your dog is vomiting white foam, as well as exhibiting some of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian or an animal hospital right away. Blood testing can determine if your dog is facing kidney disease, and treatment options are available.
Rabies - The least likely but still plausible reason for that white foam? The dreaded rabies virus. Most responsible dog owners have their pet up to date on vaccinations, including rabies. That said, white foam is one of the final symptoms of a dog plagued with this incurable, contagious viral disease, so keep that in mind, particularly if you're around wild or stray canines.
By Tara Hall
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.