Why do dogs foam at the mouth?
The causes of dogs foaming at the mouth can be several. Because some of the underlying causes can be life-threatening, it is important to first emphasize the potential severity of the problem and seek the help of a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you suspect that your dog has been poisoned or ingested something toxic, consider that every second counts.
For immediate assistance, take your dog to the nearest veterinary clinic. There are emergency vet clinics that are open 24/7, even on holidays, with vets always on hand.
Keep these numbers handy
If you live in a remote area, there are also poison control centers that you can reach by phone 24/7/365.
- For example, you can contact the poisoned pet hotline at 855-764-7661. There is a $75 incident fee, so please have your credit card handy.
- The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can be reached at 888-426-4435. A consultation fee may also apply.
Whether you call or see the vet, be sure to have your dog’s weight, the product you suspect he ingested, and any packaging ready to provide detailed information.
Do not induce vomiting without first contacting a veterinarian or the pet poison help line. Various harmful toxins absolutely must not be expelled through the feeding tube and mouth a second time!
Although ingesting something toxic can cause dogs to foam at the mouth, there are other less worrisome causes.
In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec shares several potential causes of foaming at the mouth in dogs.
10 causes of foam in the mouth of dogs
As mentioned, there are several reasons why dogs foam at the mouth. Some of them are relatively benign and easy to resolve, while others are more serious and require proper veterinary management.
Here is a brief overview of the top ten causes of foaming at the mouth and their possible solutions.
1. Normal drooling
We are not saying that drooling and foaming are the same thing, but they are closely related and should be viewed as a whole.
This is because the foam is a consequence of drool (it is formed when the drool comes into contact with air).
That being said, excessive drooling is completely normal in certain breeds like Newfoundland dogs, Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, and Saint Bernards.
2. Heat stress
Heat stress and heat exhaustion are the introductory phases of heat stroke.
Certain breeds of flat-faced dogs (pugs, French and English bulldogs) are at higher risk of developing heat stress.
Keeping them in air-conditioned environments and avoiding walking during the hot hours of the day are excellent prevention options.
While some dogs are physically ready for running (hiking, swimming), others are not.
Excessive physical activity is likely to cause foaming at the mouth, especially in dogs accustomed to sedentary lifestyles. Don’t push your dog’s limits and be aware of his physical capabilities.
4. Stress and anxiety
Dogs experiencing stress will foam at the mouth due to the combination of panting, whining and barking.
First, the dog will drool excessively, and then the drool will become frothy and frothy.
The solution is simple: find the stress trigger and limit your dog’s exposure to the stressor.
5. Bad taste in the mouth
When it comes to sticking their tongues out on sketchy things, dogs have low standards. From licking dirt to oily stains to other dogs’ butts, it’s not unusual for dogs to experience a foul taste in their mouths.
In such cases, the result is obvious: foam at the mouth.
6. Oral health problems
Dogs, especially certain breeds, are plagued with dental disease, from tartar buildup to cavities and gum disease.
All dental diseases manifest with excessive drooling, which easily turns into foam at the mouth.
Taking care of your dog’s dental hygiene (brushing and peeling) is essential.
7. Nausea and vomiting
If the licking we mentioned above progresses and the dog actually ingests an inedible item, it will develop digestive upset.
Such disorders manifest with vomiting and diarrhea. However, before vomiting begins, the dog will gag and probably foam at the mouth.
8. Poisonous substances
If instead of licking inedible items, the dog licks or ingests potential toxins, it is a life-threatening situation.
There are a number of toxins that are easily found in homes and gardens. If you suspect poisoning, it is critical that you seek urgent veterinary attention.
Another cause of foaming at the mouth is seizures. However, a dog with seizures will display additional signs such as tremors, spasms, panting, and agitation.
In such cases, foaming is triggered by the combination of rapid movements and the inability to swallow. Seizure management requires prescription medications.
The first thing that comes to mind when you imagine a dog foaming at the mouth is rabies. However, we decided to include it last because rabies is very rare in modern times.
The rabies virus attacks the dog’s nervous system and is deadly. Fortunately, regular vaccination has eradicated the disease in many parts of the world.
did you know
Dogs can also foam at the mouth if they lick a toad. In the US, two types of toads are poisonous, the giant toad, bufo marinus, found in southern Texas, Hawaii, and southern Florida, and the Sonoran desert toad found in southeast of California, New Mexico, Mexico and southern Arizona. If your dog has been exposed to toad secretions, rinse his mouth with a steady stream of water, keeping his mouth down to prevent further swallowing, and consult your veterinarian.
Is it dangerous for a dog to foam at the mouth?
Yes, foam at the mouth can be dangerous. However, not all cases are dangerous. In the previous section, we have reviewed some of the most common causes of foaming at the mouth.
If you review the hotfixes, you’ll notice that there are underlying issues of varying severities.
The problem is that you can’t determine if the culprit is transient or life-threatening, which means you should see a vet if your dog is foaming at the mouth.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, or in these terms, making an unnecessary trip to the vet’s office than delaying treatment of a life-threatening condition.
What to do if this is happening
If your dog is foaming at the mouth, you should remain calm (most of the time, easier said than done!) and quickly assess the situation (check on your dog, determine if he is displaying any additional symptoms, what are the circumstances).
The next step is to call the vet (if the dog is stable and acting normally) or go to the nearest emergency clinic (if the dog is unwell).
At the clinic, the vet will examine the dog and, in an emergency, begin a stabilization protocol (IV fluids, medications, etc.).
If it’s not an emergency, the vet will perform a physical exam and ask a lot of questions to gather as much information as possible.
The vet will then order additional tests: blood work (complete blood cell counts and biochemical panels) and urinalysis are always recommended.
Depending on the case, the vet may also require ultrasound or X-rays.
Once the vet has all the test results, they will make a diagnosis. The course of action from that point on depends on the underlying cause and the diagnosis itself.
How can I prevent foaming at the mouth?
Not all cases of foam at the mouth can be prevented. However, there are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of your dog foaming at the mouth. Here is an explanation of some of the steps you can take.
1. Ensure adequate hydration
Keeping your dog hydrated is a great way to prevent certain causes of foaming at the mouth. For example, anxiety, overexertion, and heat stress cause increased water loss and dehydration.
The more water the dog loses, the more rapidly the condition progresses. If your dog is well hydrated, these factors will take longer to exert their harmful effects, thus giving more time to intervene and salvage the situation.
2. Invest in dental care
As described, a variety of dental problems can cause your dog to foam at the mouth. When we say invest in dental care, we mean both time and money.
In terms of timing, you should brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week with a dog-safe toothpaste and brush.
Money-wise, make sure to have your dog’s teeth checked by a vet twice a year (or more often in breeds prone to dental disease).
3. Keep toxins out of reach
This may sound like a cliché, but it is the gold standard when you have a pet in the house. The most common toxins found in homes are plants, human medications, and cleaning products.
Such toxins should be kept in a safe place, out of the dog’s reach. When finding such places, you should consider the dog’s ability to jump on high places, open doors, and chew through drawers and cabinets.
4. Feed your dog a healthy diet
Lastly, it goes without saying that dogs need complete and nutritionally balanced diets. Since foam at the mouth can be caused by nausea, it is safe to assume the importance of a proper diet.
Additionally, giving your dog the right diet for his needs will help prevent a variety of other health problems and keep your dog fit. If you are not sure which diet is best or how much food your dog needs, consult with a veterinarian or canine nutritionist.
A dog foaming at the mouth can indicate many things. Since it is difficult to discover the underlying problem on your own, it is highly recommended to seek veterinary help as soon as you notice something wrong with your dog.
From simple exhaustion and heat stress to dental infections and seizures, foaming can be the result of a number of problems.
Whatever the case, it is important to remain calm and handle the situation accordingly. Panicking can cause you to act irrationally, and when it comes to foaming at the mouth, time can be of the essence.
This article is accurate and true to the best knowledge and belief of the author. It is not intended to replace the formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription or advice of a veterinary medical professional. Animals showing signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.