Dog vomit can appear clear, yellow, brown, or white and foamy. If your dog is vomiting white foam, a few potential reasons are indigestion, pancreatitis, ingestion of a foreign body, infectious disease, and more. Repeated vomiting requires action on your part, whether it be preventing your dog from eating certain objects or foods, or taking them to the vet for a full checkup in search of any potentially serious health issues.
While seeing your dog vomit can be very alarming, most of the time a single episode of vomiting isn't due to anything serious. Still, if your dog vomits, pay attention to any other symptoms they might display. If your dog appears very ill, call the vet right away rather than waiting to see if your pet improves on their own.
Why Do Dogs Vomit White Foam?
There are a few potential reasons why your dog is vomiting white foam. In many cases, your dog has simply tasted or eaten something that led to a stomach upset. Your dog might have been nibbling on grass, licking something with a bad taste, or chewing on something irritating. However, vomiting of any kind can indicate a more serious illness, especially if the vomiting occurs frequently. Some of the more common causes of white foamy vomit in dogs include:
- Indigestion: This common cause of canine vomiting merely means that your pooch ate something that didn't agree with it, such as grass or something out of the trash. Indigestion can also be caused by eating too quickly or eating right after vigorous exercise.
- Acid reflux: Also called bilious vomiting syndrome, dogs can vomit white foam if their stomach is irritated from excess bile or stomach acids. This is especially likely if your dog vomits white foam in the morning before breakfast. Dogs with this condition benefit from smaller, more frequent meals, and a small snack before bedtime and first thing in the morning. Some need antacid medication, as well.
- Pancreatitis: Dog with an inflammation of the pancreas generally vomit quite a bit, and the vomit might be white and foamy if the dog's stomach was otherwise empty. But typically, pancreatitis will be accompanied by other symptoms, including pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Take your dog to the vet right away if it has these symptoms.
- Other gastrointestinal inflammation: Your dog might vomit white foam or other colors of vomit should it have a viral or bacterial stomach inflammation.
- Gastrointestinal obstruction: A dog that swallowed a toy, chunk of bone, or other foreign object can occasionally develop an obstruction in the intestines. This is potentially very serious and can require surgery. If your dog continues to vomit and shows other signs of pain or distress, call your veterinarian.
- Toxin exposure: A dog that ate something toxic, including medications, cleaning supplies, or toxic plants, might vomit white foam. Usually, you'll observe other symptoms, however, such as weakness, trembling, or repeated vomiting attacks. This is another situation that requires an immediate call to your veterinarian.
- Rabies: While rare in the United States, thanks to rigorous vaccination programs, rabies can potentially cause your dog to vomit white foam.
- Bloat: This painful condition causes a dog's belly to fill with gas, fluid, or food. Vomiting white foam can be an early symptom. Bloat is a medical emergency. If your dog's belly is extended, it appears to be in pain, and it cannot pass stool, you need to call your veterinarian immediately.
- Kennel cough and other upper respiratory problems may cause dogs to cough up foamy white liquid. The material may appear to be vomit but could actually be mucus and fluids from the respiratory system. Or, the dog might have swallowed mucus and fluid from the respiratory issue and be vomiting that up. Coughing white foam is different than vomiting white foam because you will see your dog's stomach lurching before vomiting.
What To Do If Your Dog is Vomiting White Foam
White, foamy vomit is often saliva that mixed with gas in the dog's stomach. If your dog vomits white foam just one time, there is no need for immediate concern as long as your pet is acting normally otherwise.
However, withhold your dog's next meal and call your vet if your dog is displaying other symptoms in addition to vomiting white foam, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in the vomit
Contact your veterinarian if your dog vomits more than twice in a 24-hour period or if intermittent vomiting continues for more than a day. Also, contact your vet if other signs of illness accompany an episode of vomiting.
Treatment for Vomiting in Dogs
The first step your vet will take is to thoroughly examine your dog. Be sure to provide details to your vet about your dog’s recent and long-term medical history. Include information about anything unusual you suspect your dog might have ingested, like plants, chemicals, or dangerous foods.
Your vet may recommend further diagnostic testing to look for a cause for the vomiting. This may include blood and urine testing, X-rays, and ultrasound. This is especially likely if the vet suspects your dog has an intestinal obstruction or bloat.
Treatment typically begins by administering anti-nausea medications and gastric protectants. Initial doses are usually given via injection to avoid further vomiting. Dogs with dehydration, pancreatitis, or other health concerns may need hospitalization for intravenous fluids and frequent medication dosing.
If the vomiting was caused by toxin exposure, your vet will follow established medical protocols for treatment. This may also include hospitalization.
If your vet suspects a GI obstruction, then endoscopy or surgery may be needed to remove the cause for the blockage. A hospital stay will be necessary for post-operative care.
If your vet suspects bloat, it is an emergency situation, and action must be taken immediately. This will require decompression of the stomach gasses via gastric lavage (pumping the stomach) and then surgery.
If your dog has a simple case of indigestion or another non-serious issue, then it will get better on its own within a day or so. You can help your dog feel better by providing plenty of water, but withholding treats, rich foods, or large meals for the first 24 hours.
How to Prevent Vomiting in Dogs
The best way to prevent vomiting is to keep your dog away from things it should not eat, lick, or chew. However, there are times when you may not be able to prevent vomiting in your dog. Illnesses can occur with no known cause, and many dogs are skilled at grabbing up and swallowing things from the ground faster than you can react. Fortunately, there are a few things you can still do to minimize the risks.
- Bring your dog to the vet for routine wellness check-ups every year (or more if recommended by your vet).
- Feed a healthy diet and keep treats to a minimum.
- Prevent your dog from chewing on grass, plants, and sticks.
- Keep objects that may become foreign bodies out of reach of your dog. Some dogs will be happy to eat anything they find on the floor. Get to know your dog’s habits and proceed accordingly.
- Keep plants, chemicals, human food, and any other toxins out of reach.
Remember to contact your veterinarian in the early signs of illness; delaying can only make things worse. When in doubt, head to the nearest open vet office, particularly if your dog is showing potentially serious symptoms such as lethargy, repeated bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, refusal to eat, shivering, or labored breathing.
Is it bad if my dog throws up white foam?
If your dog vomits white foam just one time, there is no need for immediate concern as long as your pet is acting normally otherwise. If your dog is experiencing other symptoms, like lethargy, diarrhea, not eating, or if you notice blood in the vomit, this is cause for concern and you should take your dog to the vet right away.
What can I give my dog to stop vomiting?
You should not give your dog any over-the-counter medications or home remedies to stop the vomiting without consulting your vet. If your dog is vomiting, your vet could prescribe medication depending on the cause of vomiting.
How can I settle my dog's stomach after vomiting?
If the vomiting has occurred because your dog ate something they shouldn't have, your vet may advise you to withhold food for a certain amount of time. After that time is up, they will probably have you give your dog a bland, easily digestible diet. Water should always be available.
Vomiting in Dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals.