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What is Spitting Up White Foam?

When a dog is spitting up white foam, it generally means that he is either vomiting or coughing up white foamy matter.  And, he could be doing so as a result of several conditions, some of which are serious while others are of less concern.   Your dog could be spitting up white foam as a result of:

  • Kennel cough
  • Bloat
  • Upset stomach
  • Fungal infection
  • Rabies 
  • Pneumonia
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Heart Disease
  • Lungworm

Some of these conditions are more serious than others; some will require more intense treatment than others.

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Why Spitting Up White Foam Occurs in Dogs

Our canine companions can make some unusual sounds and behave in unusual ways which can be scary to the pet owner.  If your canine companion is spitting up white foam, there could be several conditions/reasons why it is occurring: 

Kennel Cough

This is a very contagious condition which can be picked up by your pet when he is boarded, has spent time in a shelter or hospital or when he comes into close contact with other canines.  It is an upper respiratory infection which can show up within 10 days of exposure. The most frequent symptoms are a dry, honking cough sometimes accompanied by gagging or coughing up white foam.

Bloat

Your pet may spit up white foam after eating or exercise because his stomach has filled with air or fluid.  The stomach will become swollen and hard. This is called bloat and can be a very dangerous condition for your pet because, when the stomach fills with air or fluid, it can cause the stomach to rotate, which then traps the food.  It obstructs the veins around the stomach. This condition is unmistakable and dogs get very unwell within a matter of hours.

Upset Stomach

Sometimes your canine family member will wolf down his dinner or drink a whole bowl of water after exercising and then vomit it back up. Something has probably upset his stomach or he has eaten something which doesn’t agree with his digestive system. You may also find your dog is nauseous, off their food and tired.

Fungal Infection

Due to the curious nature of most canines, they can pick up fungal organisms as they sniff, scratch or dig into soils which have been contaminated.  This is especially true if the soil contains bird, poultry or bat excrement.  If ingested or inhaled, the fungal organism can cause an infection which is characterized by a harsh cough and a white foam discharge.

Rabies

Your pet may be rabid, having contracted rabies from an outside source, and may be demonstrating the classic symptom of foaming at the mouth. The foam comes as a result of nerve damage in the mouth and throat which prevents the infected canine from swallowing. Your dog will show other obvious signs of Rabies such as a fever, seizures and fear of water (hydrophobia).

Pneumonia

A bacterial or viral lung infection can cause signs including a cough, fever and malaise. The cough can become severe and may be productive in some cases.

Heart Disease

Many heart conditions can lead to coughing due to fluid build up in and around the lungs. Oftentimes, a cough will lead to foam being brought back up. 

Tracheal Collapse

Certain breeds such as the Bichon Frise and Terriers are more prone to tracheal collapse. It is more commonly seen in middle-aged to older dogs who are over-weight. We can see a chronic cough which worsens with exercise. During a coughing fit, it is not uncommon for some foam to be produced.

Lungworm

Parasites within the lungs may lead to signs including a productive, foamy cough and an increased tendency to bleed. Chest x-rays and stool analysis can help us reach a diagnosis.

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What to do if your Dog is Spitting Up White Foam

If the episodes are infrequent and if your pet is otherwise behaving normally, you can likely note the circumstances which preceded them and monitor him for any future episodes.  However, if the episodes become more frequent or if your pet begins to act or behave abnormally or his condition worsens, you should seek medical advice from your veterinary professional as soon as possible.  Depending on how quickly the condition of your pet worsens, seeking that medical advice may need to come in the form of an emergency veterinary facility, as some of the possible causes can be more serious than others.

If the diagnosis is kennel cough, then there may not be any treatment required as the infection generally passes within about 10-14 days on its own, though some veterinary professionals will prescribe antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected. Generally, bacterial or viral lung infections can take up to 3 weeks to fully resolve.  Close monitoring may be necessary in these cases as bacterial or viral infections can develop into pneumonia and become very serious very quickly.

Bloat can be a very serious condition and can develop into a life-threatening condition pretty quickly.  If your pet’s stomach is swollen and hard and he is acting like he doesn’t feel good (pacing, refusal to sit or lie down, drooling, unproductive vomiting), get him to an emergency veterinary facility emergently.  The attending vet will need to release the pressure in the stomach which will require removing the fluid or air that has built up in it.  This can be done via a tube insertion into the stomach, or, if the gastric tube is blocked because the stomach is twisted, a needle aspiration will be performed to release the pressure.  If your pet is in shock, he will need to stabilized with IV fluids and electrolytes. Once he is stabilized and the pressure released in the stomach, there will likely be dietary regimens recommended, changes in the feeding schedule and manner in which it is done and exercise routine changes as they relate to feeding time. A twisted stomach requires surgery to resolve.

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Prevention of Spitting Up White Foam

In the case of kennel cough, vaccination will reduce the opportunity for this upper respiratory infection to inflict your pet.  This is a regulated vaccination and your veterinary professional will guide you as to the frequency of its administration. Of course, Rabies virus must also be routinely vaccinated against.

In the case of bloat, one of the more serious causes of spitting up white foam, there will likely be some lifestyle changes required to reduce the chances of the episode repeating itself.  Your veterinary professional or attending vet will recommend things like:

  • If your pet eats from a raised food bowl, you may need to lower it
  • Feed several small meals daily instead of one large one
  • Develop methods to slow down the gulping and fast eating that many canines utilize
  • Restrict your pet’s exercise activity after his meals
  • Try to control the amount of food and water which is consumed at one time
  • Develop ways to reduce the stressors in your pet’s life

Ensure your dog's lungworm prevention is up to date.


Monitor any heart murmur that your pet has and consider diagnostic tests such as echocardiograms and chest x-rays if a murmur is detected.


Walk your dog using a harness rather than a neck lead and try to keep them lean and fit, especially if they are a breed prone to tracheal collapse.

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Cost of Spitting Up White Foam

The treatment costs for the various potential causes of spitting up white foam will, of course, be dependent upon the specific diagnosis  For example, kennel cough cost could range from $100 to $300 to treat.  Bloat or stomach dilatation treatment costs could range from $500 to $10,000, depending upon the severity of the bloat and the condition of the canine when seen by the vet.  Rabies costs could range $950 to $2,000 for appropriate treatment. 

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Spitting Up White Foam Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pit Bull

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Two Years

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My dog has been throwing up what seems like mucus Im sure it’s because of his allergies since it’s spring season but just the sound seems concerning

April 3, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are a number of reasons that your dog might be vomiting foam, including a stomach upset, parasites, an intestinal infection or infectious disease. If it is something that is happening frequently or doesn't seem to be improving, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him and see what might be causing this. I hope that all goes well for him and he feels better soon.

April 6, 2021

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Pit Bull

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7 week

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Spitting Up White Foam

Every time my puppy eats or drinks he spits up white foamy liquid. Whines a little then is fine.

Nov. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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6 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry your puppy is having these problems. The first thing that I would think of in such a young puppy having GI problems would be parasites. The best thing to do would be to have your veterinarian look at a fecal sample and assess your puppy for any parasites that might be causing this problem. That would be the simplest problem to fix, as most parasites are easily treatable.

Nov. 4, 2020

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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One Year

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1 found helpful

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Coughing

My dog has started coughing when he performs virgorous exercise like fetching a ball or playing with other dogs. He hacks and sometimes vomits up some saliva. It’s only clear liquid that sometimes has treats. It’s not white foam. He has had kennel cough before as a puppy so I’m familiar with how that cough sounds. His cough is more like a hacking sound.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my response, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. The cough that you are describing may be related to a tracheal problem, or a heart or lung problem. If it is something that is not improving, Since I cannot see your pet, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be causing this, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 13, 2020

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German Shepherd

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Two Months

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Dey Hacking Cough Vomiting Foam Lots Of Drool Weak

I am not sure if my dog ingested something she is foaming at the mouth drooling a lot vomiting and looks week.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Jack Russell Terrier

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Five Years

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Coughing

Hi, my dog has developed a cough quite suddenly and has brought up some white foam. He had an upset stomach yesterday too. Any tips/advice?

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that he is okay. If he is still having any problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 16, 2020

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Amidala

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Chihuahua

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Dry Heaving Coughing Up White Foam

My dog Amidala has been dry heaving and coughing up(or trying to) white foam for the past week. when she coughs it sounds like a rapter screeching from jarassic park. She is fine otherwise. She is eating and drinking normal, no odd behavior, no fever, no hard stomach and their have been no changes to her diet. I can't afford to go to the vet so I'm wondering what I can do. She will cough up spoonfuls of foam everynow and then but mostly reswallows it and she is dry heaving about 10 times or more a day. Is there something I can feed her or give her over the counter to help? I have had her since the day she was born because her parents were my dogs too and this really worries me. How can I help my baby?

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Brindy

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Pit bull

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing,Vomit
Sneezing,Vomiting,Snotty Nose,Wheez
Sneezing,Vomiting,Snotty Nose
Sneezing,Vomiting
Coughing, Sneezing, Vomiting, Runny
Coughing, Gaging, Vomiting, Sneezin
Runny Nose
Wheezing
Coughing
Sneezing
Sneezing,
Vomiting

We adopted Brindy from the shelter 3 days ago. Since we have had her she has been coughing so hard she starts to gag and that causes her to vomit. She does alot of sneezing and I noticed today she has a lot of thick yellow snot coming out her nose. She has no problem eating or drinking. She wants to play with the other dogs we have but every time she starts to run with them she starts coughing and gagging again and stops her from playing. What could this be?

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Othello

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Beagle

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing
Eating Grass
Spitting Up Foam

Our dog has been experiencing seemingly random days of gagging and spitting up white/clear foam mostly. Usually she begins to look like she’s gagging and immediately jumps up to go outside. When she gets outside she begins eating grass quickly. And at some point will throw up the grass and foam. Then she has a cough, we assume from the grass. This occurs generally throughout the course of one day and then she is back to normal. When it happens she seems to maintain her apppetite, though doesn’t urinate as often. We thought maybe she needed more fiber and added a small pumpkin fiber supplement to her meals but this has not changed anything, as again some days she is normal and some days she acts as described. We also tried to add a little water to soften her food to help with digestion and the results are the same. One thing suggested was fungal infection perhaps from soil with bird droppings- we do have a lot of pigeons fly over our house often though their droppings aren’t noticeable in our yard by any means. This is happening perhaps once every 3-4 weeks or so and has been happening over the past 6-7 months.

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Rambo

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Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

My 6 1/2 year old RAMBO hes been coughing up from last night and on. Firstly he cough with little white foamy liquid like substance then he only coughing not white foam liquid.he coughing after some 30 mint and 45mint. His stomach also normal not hard. But he still seams to act fine. He ate and drink water so actively like normal and playing with toy and sleeping,Barking as usual. Now he finished his lunch(fish) so actively. But I dnt know why he is coughing ????? Should I take him to an emergency vet ???

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Airabella

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Corgi

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing
Vomitting White Foam
Only Coughing When Excited

My corgi mix started coughing about 8hrs ago. She sounds like she’s trying to cough something up or vomit. She has her coughing fits and coughs up white foam. She then goes and lays in her bed. She doesn’t cough if she still and resting. Only when she gets excited or gets up at all really. Her nose is cold and wet and she’s eating and drinking normally. I’ve counted her respiration’s and they are between 15 and 30 breaths a minute. I don’t hear wheezing and she does snore when she sleeps but she done that all her life. She hopped the fence about 10 days ago and was found at the park down the street. She also decided to lay under the front porch yesterday morning. I’m concerned she sniffed something she shouldn’t have. She does not like the vet and I’m concerned the stress of going will make her worse. I want to be sure she absolutely needs to go before I put her through that.

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