Foam and vomiting in dogs

Updated February 21, 2017

Foaming and vomiting in dogs can be caused by a variety of conditions such as rabies, bloat or poisoning from various toxins. Vomiting may be a symptom of numerous illnesses in dogs, including dog influenza, but foaming at the mouth or excessive salivation is not as common a symptom. This may help you and your veterinarian pinpoint and diagnose your dog's condition.


Technically known as gastric dilation-torsion complex, bloat causes "swelling of the stomach from gas, fluid or both," according to the University of North Carolina. Symptoms include a swollen stomach, pacing, salivating, retching or vomiting small amounts of frothy substance, drooling, panting and whining. Bloat is fatal if not treated quickly by a veterinarian, generally through surgery, according to veterinarian Larry Glickman.


Canine distemper virus causes vomiting, anorexia, depression, fever, coughing and other symptoms, depending on the dog. In later stages of the disease, neurological signs become present, including seizures in some dogs, which can cause foaming at the mouth or excessive salivation. Distemper is generally contracted from other unvaccinated dogs. About half of dogs who get this virus will become ill. The course of the illness can be quite mild or very severe and may even result in death. Treatment is focused on comfort and supportive measures; there is no cure for distemper.


The most well-known symptom of rabies in dogs is the foaming at mouth, though this particular symptom is not present in all cases, according to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to this point in the illness, dogs may experience cold or flulike symptoms which can include vomiting. Dogs with rabies exhibit extreme aggressiveness and bite at the slightest provocation. Further into the illness, they will become paralysed, and death ensues soon after.

Frogs and toads

Dogs appear to like the taste of frogs and toads, according to Matthew C. Allender of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. The parotid glands in most toads and frogs release toxins, causing foaming in dogs who eat, or sometimes even lick, one of these animals. Toxicity levels vary from one species to the next. If you are unsure about the type of frog or toad your dog has encountered, wash out his mouth with water and bring him to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. Capture the toad or frog if possible for positive identification and to ensure appropriate treatment.

Other poisons

Several common household items are toxic when ingested by dogs. These include raw bread dough containing yeast, glow-in-the-dark sticks, grapes and raisins, mouldy foods, pennies and other objects containing zinc and potpourri. Vomiting is a symptom common to ingestion of many of these substances, and foaming may also occur. Contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has consumed any of these substances. Emergency care may be needed to save your pet's life.

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