Why is my dog coughing & spitting up white foam?

Updated April 17, 2017

Taking care of a dog can be difficult because she is unable to tell you what is wrong. When your pooch is suffering from a heavy cough and spitting up white foam it can be disconcerting. There are several reasons this could be happening, and it is important to know the proper steps to take before transporting the animal to a veterinarian.

What Is It?

The white foam you see when your dog vomits is a combination of mucus, phlegm and stomach contents. Unfortunately, if a dog continues to vomit it may cause her to also regurgitate white blood cells and cells from the intestinal wall. This is serious, and the animal should be taken to the veterinarian immediately. This substance is typically thick and foamy.

Tracking Initial signs

A dog may be coughing and spitting up white foam to regurgitate something she has eaten that is making her sick. Animals sometimes eat something from the garbage that contains harmful bacteria. The first thing to watch for is whether your dog begins to eat grass, as it contains enzymes that help induce vomiting. If the vomiting continues for an extended period of time, take your dog to a veterinarian for testing.


Bloat is commonly associated with a serious cough and regurgitation of white foam. This potentially life-threatening condition kills between 25 and 33 per cent of dogs who contract it. Bloat is similar to twisted stomach in humans and can be very painful. Parvo is another potentially lethal dog disease that causes these symptoms.

What to Do

If you are unable to get your dog to a veterinarian immediately it is important to try to keep her hydrated. You can do this by spoon-feeding small amounts of an electrolyte beverage to the dog several times each hour.


One vomiting episode may not be a reason for concern, but if it occurs multiple times then contact a veterinarian immediately. Do not give the dog an antacid or other stomach-calming medications because they may increase the foam and vomiting.

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