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10 Causes of Dogs Foaming at the Mouth

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

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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's important to first emphasize the potential seriousness of the issue, and seek the help of a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you suspect your dog has been poisoned or ingested something toxic, consider that every second counts.

For immediate assistance, take your dog to the closest veterinary clinic. There are emergency vet clinics that are open 24/7, even on holidays with veterinarians always on call.

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 days a year.

  • The Pet Poison Helpline, for instance, can be reached at 855-764-7661. A $75 incident fee applies, so have your credit card handy.
  • The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can be reached at 888- 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply as well.

Whether you call or see the vet, make sure to have handy your dog's weight, the product you suspect he ingested, and any packaging to provide detailed info.

Do not induce vomiting without first contacting a vet or Pet Poison Helpline. Several damaging toxins should absolutely not be brought up through the food pipe and mouth a second time!

Although ingesting something toxic can cause dogs to foam at the mouth, there are several other less-worrisome causes.

In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec shares several potential causes of dogs foaming at the mouth.

10 Causes of Dogs Foaming at the Mouth

As mentioned, there are several reasons why dogs foam at the mouth. Some of them are relatively benign and easy to solve, while others are more serious and require proper veterinary management.

Here is a short review of the top ten causes of foaming at the mouth and their potential solutions.

1. Normal Drooling

We are not saying that drooling and foaming are the same things, but they are closely related and must be seen as a whole.

This is because foaming is a consequence of drooling (it forms when drool comes in contact with air).

With that being said, excess drooling is completely normal in certain breeds like Newfoundland dogs, Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, and St. Bernard dogs.

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2. Heat Stress

Heat stress and heat exhaustion are the introductory phases of heatstroke.

Certain flat-faced dog breeds (Pugs, French and English Bulldogs) are at higher risk of developing heat stress.

Keeping them in air-conditioned environments and avoiding walks during hot parts of the day are excellent prevention options.

3. Overexertion

While some dogs are physically prepared for running (hiking, swimming), others are not.

Excess physical activity is likely to cause foaming at the mouth, especially in dogs used to sedentary lifestyles. Do not push your dog’s limits and be attentive to its physical capacities.

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 foamy.

The solution is straightforward – finding the stress trigger and limiting your dog's exposure to the stressor.

5. Foul Taste in the Mouth

When it comes to putting their tongues on sketchy things, dogs have low standards. From licking dirt to oily stains to other dogs' butts – it is not unusual for dogs to experience a foul taste in their mouths.

In such cases, the outcome is evident – foaming at the mouth.

6. Oral Health Issues

Dogs, especially of certain breeds, are riddled with dental diseases – from tartar build-up to cavities to gum disease.

All dental diseases manifest with excessive drooling, which easily evolves into foaming at the mouth.

Taking care of your dog's dental hygiene (brushing and scaling) is critical.

7. Nausea and Vomiting

If the licking we mentioned above progresses and the dog actually ingests an inedible item, it will develop a digestive upset.

Such upsets manifest with vomiting and diarrhea. However, before the vomiting starts, the dog will feel nauseated and likely foam at the mouth.

8. Poisonous Substances

If instead of licking inedible items, the dog licks or ingests potential toxins, you are dealing with a life-threatening situation.

There are a number of toxins easily found in households and gardens. If you suspect poisoning, it is critical that to seek urgent veterinary attention.

9. Seizures

Another cause of foaming at the mouth is seizures. However, a dog with seizures will exhibit additional signs such as shaking, twitching, panting, and agitation.

In such cases, the foaming is triggered by the combination of fast movements and the inability to swallow. Managing seizures requires prescription medications.

10. Rabies

The first thing that comes to mind when one imagines a dog foaming at the mouth is rabies. Yet, we decided to list it last because rabies is very rare in modern times.

The Rabies virus attacks the dog’s nervous system and is deadly. Luckily, regular vaccination has eradicated the disease in many parts of the world.

If your dog is foaming at the mouth, have him see the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If your dog is foaming at the mouth, have him see the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Is a Dog Foaming at the Mouth Dangerous?

Yes, foaming at the mouth can be dangerous. However, not every case is dangerous. In the section above, we have reviewed some of the most common causes of mouth foaming.

If you go through the reviews, you will notice that there are underlying issues of different severities.

The problem is that you cannot determine whether the culprit is transient or life-threatening, meaning you need to see a vet if your dog is foaming at the mouth.

It is always better to be safe than sorry or, in these terms, make an unnecessary trip to the vet's office than delay the treatment for a life-threatening condition.

What to Do If This Is Happening

If your dog is foaming at the mouth, you need to stay calm (more often, this is easier said than done!) and quickly assess the situation (check how your dog is doing, determine whether he is showing additional symptoms, what are the circumstances).

The next step is either calling the vet (if the dog is otherwise stable and acting normal) or going to the nearest emergency clinic (if the dog is not alright).

At the clinic, the vet will examine the dog and, in case of an emergency, start with a stabilization protocol (intravenous fluids, medications, etc.).

If not dealing with an emergency, the veterinarian will perform a physical exam and ask a bunch of questions to gather as much information as possible.

Then, the vet will order additional tests – blood analysis (complete blood cell counts and biochemistry panels) and urinalysis are always recommended.

Depending on the case, the vet may also require ultrasounds or x-rays.

Once the veterinarian has all the test results, they will set a diagnosis. The course of action from that point depends on the underlying cause and the diagnosis itself.

Take good care of your dog's oral health

Take good care of your dog's oral health

How Can I Prevent Mouth Foaming?

Not every case of foaming at the mouth is preventable. However, there are some things you can do to decrease your dog's chances of foaming at the mouth. Here is an explanation of some of the steps you can take.

1. Ensure Proper Hydration

Keeping your dog hydrated is an excellent way of preventing certain causes of foaming at the mouth. For example, anxiety, overexertion, and heat stress all result in increased water loss and dehydration.

The more water the dog losses, the more quickly the condition progresses. If your dog is well hydrated, these factors will take more time 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 issues can result in your dog foaming at the mouth. When we say invest in dental care, we refer to both time and money.

In terms of time, you need to brush your dog's teeth at least three times per week using a dog-friendly paste and brush.

As for money, make sure your dog's teeth are checked by a vet twice per year (or more often in breeds prone to dental diseases).

3. Keep Toxins Out of Reach

This may sound like a cliché, but it is the golden standard when having a pet in the house. The most common toxins found in households are plants, human medications, and cleaning products.

Such toxins need to be kept in a safe place, out of the dog's reach. When finding such places, you need to consider the dog's ability to jump on high places, open doors, and chew its way through drawers and cupboards.

4. Feed your Dog a Healthy Diet

Finally, it goes without saying that dogs need complete and nutritionally balanced diets. Since foaming at the mouth can be caused by nausea, it is safe to assume the importance of a proper diet.

Plus, giving your dog the right diet for its needs will help prevent an array of other health issues and keep your dog in a lean shape. If you are not sure which diet is best or how much food your dog needs, consult with a veterinarian or canine nutritionist.

Concluding Thoughts

A dog foaming at the mouth can indicate lots of things. Since figuring out the underlying issue on your own is hard, it is highly recommended to seek veterinary help as soon as you notice something wrong is going on with your dog.

From simple exhaustion and heat stress to dental infections and seizures, foaming can be the result of an array of problems.

Whatever the case, it is important to stay calm and manage the situation accordingly. Panicking can make you 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 of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Adrienne Farricelli

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