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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 

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

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,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 about 10 days of exposure. The most frequent symptoms are a dry 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.

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.

Fungal Infection

Due to the investigative 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.

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What to do if your Dog is Spitting Up White Foam

If the episode is infrequent and if your pet is otherwise behaving normally, you can likely note the circumstances which preceded it 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 worsened, 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 5 days on its own, though some veterinary professionals will prescribe antibiotics at the onset to prevent the development of pneumonia if the suspected cause is bacterial or viral. Generally, bacterial or viral 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. 

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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.

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
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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 diagnosed cause for it.  For example, kennel cough cost could range from $300 to $3,000 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. And stomach or intestinal inflammation, depending on the root cause, could cost from $300 to $6,000 for treatment.

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Spitting Up White Foam Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Terrier mix

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7 months

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1 found helpful

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Honk Coughing, White Foam

Hello my puppy terrier mix most likely ate a foreign object (sigh) and now he’s been (I think) trying to cough it out for the last five hours. He’s finally spit out some white foam. I know it’s the waiting game at this point but can I give him something to make it easier to spit it out?

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. He may have eaten something, but he may also have a tracheitis or kennel cough. There is not much that you can do at home other than monitor for improvement, and if it is not getting better, having him seen by a veterinarian would be a good idea. He may need medications, and your veterinarian will be able to examine him to see what might be going on. I hope that all goes well for him!

Aug. 6, 2020

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Jack Russell Terrier

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Twelve Years

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Throwing Up White Foam And Dry Heaving

She’s been doing this for 2 days. I gave her warm rice today. She threw up white foam once and has been dry heaving. She’s not exposed to any other dogs and has not been bitten by anything. We think she might have ingested something from her stuff animal toys

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. If she is continuing to vomit the way you're describing, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian right away. If you think that she ate some of the stuffing from her toys, she could have a GI foreign body, and that needs attention right away. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Labrador Retriever mix

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Six Years

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3 found helpful

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Gagging

My dog has been doing a strange gagging/coughing thing. She spits up foam with what looks like a lot of drool. It’s been occurring for the last 6 hours.

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It is possible that your dog has something stuck in the back of her throat, or a tracheitis. If things don't improve, it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can examine her and see what might be going on. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 28, 2020

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Chihuahua

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Ten Years

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Dry Cough

My dog has been randomly having a dry cough that sometimes causes her to gag up a small amount of white foam. This started about 4-5 days ago. She has not been exposed to other dogs recently. Besides the coughing she has been acting completely normal. I am unsure if I should take her to the vet or not.

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Dogs can start to have a dry cough as they age due to changes in lung elasticity, but they can also develop bronchitis or other problems. If the cough is persistent and seems to be continuing, it would be a good idea to have an exam with her veterinarian, just to be safe. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 20, 2020

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Labradoodle

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Cough, Gag And Foamy Vomit

Day three of a couple episodes a day of coughing followed by gag and yellow/greenish foamy vomit. Wondering if I need to see a vet. Just adopted the dog a few weeks ago.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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I do think it would be a good idea to see a veterinarian at this point since it has been going on for a couple weeks. It may be something very simple such as an upper respiratory tract infection, and they can prescribe antibiotics and something for the cough. Based on physical exam they may recommend x-rays to rule out underlying cardiac or pulmonary disease.

July 14, 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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0 found helpful

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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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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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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

dog-breed-icon

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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