Why Is My Dog Throwing Up White Foam?

Alex Seilis
Dog Throwing Up White Foam

It’s never any fun when your dog throws up … but it’s usually not a cause for concern either. But what exactly does it mean when your dog is throwing up white foam? 

Let’s explore a few reasons why your dog may be throwing up white foam… and a few things you can do about it. 

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Throwing Up White Foam

Most of the time, your dog is throwing up white foam simply because he ate something that upset his stomach. This is often from eating too much grass, chewing or swallowing something irritating, or even just from licking something that tastes bad. 

If your dog throws up white foam once and then returns to normal behavior afterward, it’s likely he just ate something he shouldn’t have. However, if your dog is throwing up white foam multiple times a day, or for multiple days in a row, the issue could be more serious, and you should schedule a veterinarian appointment. 

Here are some of the most common reasons why your dog might be throwing up white foam…

1. Indigestion

Eating too much grass or other plant material that's hard for dogs to digest can cause nausea, indigestion, and vomiting. Usually, this issue will resolve itself after your dog vomits once. If you see plant material in the white foam, then you’ve likely found the culprit. 

However, not all forms of indigestion are the same. Toxins can also cause GI irritation and indigestion, and lead to vomiting eventually. Pesticides and household cleaners that are toxic to dogs may cause your dog to throw up white foam if he swallows them. These items should ideally be kept capped and in cabinets to protect your dog. 

2. Acid Reflux

Dogs can suffer from Bilious Vomiting Syndrome, which is very similar to acid reflux in humans. Excess stomach acid and bile can irritate your dog's stomach, and may cause him to throw up to expel the excess. This kind of vomit can be white, green, orange, brown, yellow, or a mix. Feeding your dog smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help relieve this problem. 

3. Inflammation

Gastrointestinal inflammation can lead to chronic digestive problems over time, which can result in symptoms like throwing up white foam. In conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) a dog’s digestive tract is constantly inflamed. Most dogs with the condition have a history of chronic or recurrent vomiting. 

4. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This can also disrupt healthy digestion in your dog. When the pancreas swells, it can interfere with your dog’s natural ways of processing, breaking down, and eliminating food. Vomiting becomes one of the only ways for eliminating food from the stomach, and this vomit may be accompanied by white foam. 

Other common symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include fever, abdominal pain, and a noticeably hunched-over position.  

5. Bloat

For humans, bloat usually calls to mind an image of us eating a bit too much. For dogs, however, bloat is a very serious condition, and should be addressed immediately. This occurs when a dog’s stomach becomes contorted or distended from the abdomen. Bloat can trap air, food, fluids, and more in the stomach, and even restrict blood flow. One of the early symptoms of bloat is throwing up white foam. If your dog has a visibly distended abdomen, seems restless or in pain, or keeps looking at his abdomen, take him to the nearest vet.  Bloat is a true emergency that needs immediate veterinary attention.

6. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is an upper respiratory illness in dogs, and is usually pretty mild. Most dogs contract it in an environment where a large number of other dogs are present. Aside from throwing up white foam, dogs with kennel cough often have eye discharge, a runny nose, and a hacking cough. Kennel cough will usually pass in about two weeks. 

RELATED: Our Top Home Remedies for Kennel Cough

7. Rabies

Finally, white foam is a textbook sign of rabies. But this is the least likely reason your dog is throwing up white foam. By the time a dog is throwing up white foam due to rabies, he will have usually been exhibiting unusually aggressive behavior for a while. The foam that rabies is known for only happens at the later stages of the condition. 

What to Do If Your Dog is Throwing Up White Foam

If your dog is throwing up white foam, the best thing to do is to observe him closely. Is he heaving, coughing, or in obvious pain? Is he experiencing other symptoms like weakness, lethargy, or loss of appetite? If so, you should withhold his next meal and contact your veterinarian. 

If on the other hand your dog throws up white foam, then resumes his normal behavior immediately afterward, there’s likely nothing to worry about. He probably just ate something that upset his stomach.

How to Treat a Dog Throwing Up White Foam

If your dog is throwing up white foam because of eating too much grass or plant material, the best thing you can do is to simply prevent him from eating these things in the future. 

As mentioned earlier, dogs that suffer from acid reflux or Bilious Vomiting Syndrome may benefit from having smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. 

Feeding your dog a raw whole food diet can also help prevent inflammation in his stomach or pancreas. 

RELATED: Get Started With The Raw Diet For Dogs

If your dog is throwing up white foam because of a more serious illness, like chronic gastrointestinal inflammation, pancreatitis, or bloat (which is a true emergency), the best thing to do is bring him to your vet. Your vet can use diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the white vomit, and administer the appropriate medications, surgeries, or other treatment methods necessary to resolve the issue. 

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.