It’s never fun to see your beloved dog vomit. But when you see your dog vomiting white foam… it can be downright worrisome! What did they eat? Is it just an upset stomach? Is this a veterinary emergency? Do you need to take your pup to the vet immediately?
Dog Vomiting White Foam: Possible Causes
If it seems like your dog is coughing up white foam, rather than your dog throwing up foam, the following possible causes still apply. Unless you’re a veterinarian, or a dog expert, you might have difficulty determining exactly what your dog is doing, whether it’s coughing or vomiting foam.
To help you out, here are some of the possible reasons why your dog is vomiting white foam, what might be going on in their stomach, and some information to help you determine if you need to bring your dog in to see the vet. (Then again, your safest bet will always be to bring your dog to the vet.)
Just like a human, a dog can have an upset stomach every once in a while. A dog vomiting white foam or undigested food could be a sign that your dog ate something that doesn’t agree with their stomach. It could be some grass or dirt, maybe the trash, or even a new kind of dog food. An upset stomach or nausea and subsequent vomiting could be a sign that your pet simply ate their food too quickly.
If your dog is throwing up bile, it could be for a similar reason, but bile comes up only when your dog’s stomach is empty. Bile is stored in the gallbladder, unlike undigested food, which is still in the stomach. (Learn more about bile vomit here.)
Indigestion is a normal occurrence with dogs and their food, and it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, unless it happens regularly, in which case, the kind of kibble you feed your dog might not agree with their stomach, or they gobble it up too quickly. If your pooch is vomiting regularly, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about what’s causing that and how to fix it. But, as long as your pup doesn’t have chronic vomiting, there shouldn’t be any reason for you to worry.
You might try giving your dog a spoonful of canned pumpkin, to see if that helps clear up their upset stomach.1
2. Kidney Problems
A dog vomiting white foam, if also showing symptoms of lethargy, weakness, or disorientation, may not have anything to do with their stomach and may instead be indicating that they have kidney issues. One big indicator of kidney disease is if a dog has problems urinating. If your dog is showing signs of any of these problems, get them to the vet as soon as possible. If untreated, kidney disease could eventually lead to kidney failure.2
Parvovirus is an extremely serious viral disease. It usually affects puppies more than adult dogs, but it can strike any dog at any age. Symptoms of parvo, other than your puppy vomiting white foam, also include fever, bloody diarrhea, weakness, and sudden weight loss. This is another instance where you’ll need to get your dog to the vet immediately.3
4. Acid Reflux
Is your dog vomiting white foam early in the morning? This kind of vomit could mean they have acid reflux. A dog throwing up foam due to this condition happens when your dog’s stomach and gastrointestinal tract has become irritated by stomach acid. Symptoms tend to strike in the morning when the stomach is empty. Reflux gastritis can damage the esophagus and cause pain when your dog eats food. Dogs with this condition often vomit white foam, as well as yellow foam vomit.4
Pancreatitis is a condition that causes swelling and inflammation in the pancreas. Dogs with pancreatitis typically vomit their food frequently, and often times, there is white foam in the vomit. Other symptoms of pancreatitis include dehydration, loss of appetite, pain in the abdomen, and weakness. Dogs with this condition will also often go into what is referred to as the “praying position.” This is where the dog keeps his rear end in the air and lowers his head and front legs.
If you suspect your dog has pancreatitis, take them to the vet at your first opportunity.5
6. Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis)
Dogs will often develop an upper respiratory infection, called infectious tracheobronchitis, after being boarded at a dog kennel for an extended period – hence the nickname “kennel cough.” But dogs can develop this condition in any environment where they are in close contact with other dogs, like doggie daycare or regular visits to the dog park.
Symptoms include a persistent cough, lethargy, nasal discharge, and vomiting white foam. In most cases, kennel cough can be successfully treated. Dogs with this condition will typically make a full recovery.6 The good news is that you can completely avoid kennel cough by getting your dog vaccinated with the Bordetella vaccine.
Bloat is an extremely serious condition that can quickly become life-threatening. Symptoms of bloat include not only vomiting white foam, but also excessive drooling, pale gums, a persistent cough, and an inability to defecate.7 The condition is caused by the stomach filling with gas and becoming twisted, or possibly vice versa, and the dog is unable to expel gas. This puts pressure on the dog’s diaphragm, making it hard for them to breathe and eventually reduces the circulation of blood to the heart.
You must get your dog to the vet immediately if you have any reason to believe they have bloat.
One Last Thing
Again, if you have a dog vomiting white foam, or any reason whatsoever to believe your dog is suffering from a serious problem, take them to the vet as soon as you can. Tell the vet about all of your dog’s symptoms and any changes in behavior. Your vet will perform a physical examination of your pet, and will run tests to determine your dog’s overall health. These tests may include x-rays and ultrasounds, as well as urine and blood tests.
Most of the time, a dog vomiting white foam is a sign of a relatively minor digestive problem. But you want to be completely sure that nothing more serious is going on.
For more about what causes dog vomiting, keep reading here:
Why is My Dog Vomiting Dark Brown?
Why is My Dog Vomiting After Drinking Water?
7 Surprisingly Bad Foods for Dogs (They are Toxic!)