Why Is My Dog Throwing Up White Foam?

Vomiting in our canine friends is concerning in general, but white foamy vomit really causes dog owners to worry. Most fur parents are used to seeing vomit that closely resembles their dog’s food, making white frothy vomit a mystery. So what could cause your dog to throw up white foam?

In this article we will get into the details of foamy white vomit in dogs, and help you better understand this odd canine occurrence going forward.

Causes Of Foamy White Vomit In Dogs

There are many potential causes of foamy white vomit in dogs. Ranging from benign issues to serious medical conditions, white frothy vomit can be a sign of something more in our canine friends. To help you better understand this occurrence in your pup, let’s discuss the most common signs of foamy vomit in dogs below.

Why Is My Dog Throwing Up White Foam

White Foam Can Accompany Normal Vomit

Before we dive into the common causes of white frothy vomit in dogs, it’s important to note that white foam can be a normal occurrence in vomit of all kinds. White foam can occur when vomit touches the air, or during the process of retching. Due to air flowing back and forth throughout a dog’s mouth as they vomit, this often results in a frothy film on top of the vomit they produce.

Because of this, white foam is not often any more concerning than vomit in general. The main issue that white foamy vomit presents is the fact that when a dog is vomiting continuously, this usually means more white foam will be present in their vomit.

This is often due to the fact that dogs tend to vomit white or foamy bile once their stomach has emptied, signifying a dog that has vomited more than once in a short period.

Because white foam tends to accompany vomit due to multiple causes, this means white foamy vomit is usually caused by the same factors as regular vomit.

Dietary Indiscretion

Dietary indiscretion involves a dog eating anything outside of their normal diet. Our pups get used to eating the same food each day, and trying new things can easily upset their stomach. Not only can new food items throw off the bacterial balance in their gut, but this is especially risky if the dietary indiscretion involves fatty or unhealthy food.

This can cause serious inflammation of the stomach and GI tract, often resulting in vomiting. If a dog begins to vomit continuously, you will likely begin to see white foam in their throw up.

Acid Reflux

If throwing up white foam or foamy bile is a common occurrence for your dog, they may suffer from acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when the bile from a dog’s intestines makes its way back up into your dog’s stomach, leading to residual irritation. This often causes a dog to vomit white or yellow foam, usually when they have gone long periods without eating. This most often occurs in the morning before a dog eats their breakfast, or in the evening before dinner.

Bacterial Infections

Bacteria can cause serious irritation in a dog’s GI tract. Bacteria lives everywhere in the world around our dogs, ranging from bacteria in the soil to bacteria in their water bowl. Due to this, our dogs can easily fall victim to bacterial infections that impact their gut.

If a dog has a bacterial infection, they may begin to suddenly develop GI symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. White foam can often be present in the vomit, especially if they vomit more than once. If your dog begins to shy away from their food, they may even begin to vomit yellow or white bile with foam.

Intestinal Blockages

Intestinal blockages are a common cause of vomiting white foam in our canine friends. When our pups eat something they should not, these items can easily become lodges in their intestines.

When other material is unable to pass the blockage, this can cause a backup in the digestive tract. This backup will eventually lead to vomiting, often multiple times until the blockage is resolved. The more the dog vomits, the higher the chance of experiencing white foamy throw up.

Infectious Disease

As we mentioned above, bacteria and viruses are present in our dog’s environment. This is especially true if your dog frequents public settings, or spends time with other canine friends. Infectious illness can stick to surfaces, wait in infected wastes, and even cling to soil. Our dogs will often come in contact with infectious diseases, making recommended vaccinations so important. If your dog does fall victim to a contagious GI disease, this can easily lead to vomiting with white foam.

Other GI Conditions

There is a long list of GI conditions that can cause a dog to throw up white frothy foam. Some of these conditions include pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, GI cancers, and more. Any GI condition has the potential to cause vomiting, meaning some dogs will vomit white foam. This is especially common in dogs with GI conditions, as they often experience episodes that involve multiple vomiting sessions.

White Foam And Rabies In Dogs

Whenever we think of a dog with rabies, we often think of an angry dog frothing at the mouth. Due to the understanding that rabid dogs will foam at the mouth, many fear rabies when their dog vomits white foam. Thankfully, this is extremely unlikely and very rare.

While rabies has not been eradicated in the US, it is not a common threat that most household pets face. If your dog is vaccinated for rabies and does not have access to wild animals, their chances of getting rabies are almost non-existent.

There are far more likely possibilities than rabies in your canine friend, and this should not be the first assumption. If you think your dog has been exposed to rabies at some point, it’s best to contact your vet for further guidance.

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Vomiting White Foam?

If your dog is vomiting white foam, there are a few ways to react. If you have a healthy pup that has no underlying medical conditions, vomiting one time does not have to sound an immediate alarm. Just be sure to monitor your pup for any additional vomiting, as well as any other abnormal symptoms.

If your pup vomits white foam more than once, it’s best to contact your vet for further advice. Multiple vomiting episodes can be a sign that something more is going on with your furry friend, and that they require medical intervention to settle their stomach. You should also always contact your vet if your pup is also experiencing diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, or any other changes in their normal behavior.

No matter what, we always suggest contacting your vet with any changes in your dog’s behavior. They can help to offer you advice for potential home care, as well as let you know if you need to have your pup seen.

Treatment Options For Foamy Vomit

When you take your dog to the vet for their vomiting, your vet will typically turn to a physical exam and diagnostics. Your vet will first ask questions about your dog’s medical history, ranging from normal behavior to any previous illnesses. Once they have painted a picture of your dog’s current symptoms, they can choose the best plan going forward.

Most vets will recommend diagnostic blood work and radiographs anytime a dog is vomiting. Not only can this diagnose potential metabolic issues in your furry friend, but it can also rule out any intestinal blockages.

These diagnostics can help your vet determine how aggressive your dog’s treatment should be, as well as offer a baseline for their health going forward.

If your vet does not find any reason for hospitalization or surgery, they will likely suggest rehydrating your pup and offering medication for nausea. They may even suggest a bland diet to offer your pup until their symptoms resolve, and suggest following up if their symptoms do not resolve.

If your dog is extremely dehydrated, your vet may recommend hospitalization. Some dogs will require IV fluids to replenish their fluid loss, as well as injectable medications to relieve their symptoms. They may suggest hospitalization from anywhere from 24 to 72 hours based on your dog’s conditions, as well as additional treatment for any medical conditions they find in their diagnostics.

The last potential treatment options involves the plan of action for dogs that are found to have a foreign body. Intestinal blockages often have to be resolved with surgery, as the vet will need to manually remove the blockage from the intestines. The standard treatment will vary based on how sick your dog is, where the blockage is, and how much time they need to recover in the hospital.

Can White Foamy Vomit Be An Emergency?

White foamy vomit can certainly be an emergency in some furry friends. Acute vomiting of any kind can point to serious illness in some dogs, whether foam is present in their vomit or not. If your dog has vomited more than once in a 24 hour period, we always suggest contacting your vet for further care. This will help you get to the bottom of your dog’s condition as quickly as possible, as well as offer them the best chance at recovery.

White frothy vomit in dogs can point to a number of medical conditions in our canine friends. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can best help your vomiting pup going forward.

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