“Why is my dog foaming at the mouth?” is a pressing question most dog owners have at one point. While we often associate foam on the mouth as a sign of something dreadful like rabies, there are many other reasons why a dog may foam at the mouth.
Some causes of foaming at the mouth in dogs are relatively harmless, while others may require immediate veterinary attention. Sometimes the solution to the foaming may be simply upping their dental care, like using a doggy mouth rinse to prevent oral issues causing the drooling.
Foaming at the mouth, also called hypersalivation or excessive drooling, can be alarming for dog owners. While it may be a sign of a severe health issue, some issues we cover are a normal occurrence.
So, Why Do Dogs Foam At The Mouth?
One of the most common causes of foaming at the mouth in dogs is rapid panting. When dogs pant, they push air through excess drool, creating a froth. Other reasons for mouth foaming in dogs is excitement or stress, nausea, excessive heat, and dental issues. Other more severe reasons include ingesting poison, bloat, seizures, and kidney failure.
13 Common Causes of Foaming at The Mouth
Foaming at the mouth in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from benign to serious. Understanding the common causes of this symptom can help pet owners identify potential health problems in their furry friends and seek prompt veterinary care.
Dogs may foam at the mouth when overwhelmed by feelings of excitement. This is a natural response to an increase in adrenaline, which can cause excessive salivation. In most cases, this type of foaming is harmless and will subside once the dog has calmed down.
Excitement also causes other reactions, like dogs chattering their teeth, especially in high-drive breeds like Belgian Malinois. While we all love seeing our dogs happy, be careful that the over-excitement isn’t caused by under stimulation.
2. Stress and Anxiety
Dogs may foam at the mouth when they are extremely anxious or frightened. Stress can trigger excessive drooling and foaming while making the dog breathe faster, creating froth. You’ll notice the typical signs of fearfulness in dogs, like pinned ears, tucked-in tail, and vocalization.
3. Nausea or Car Sickness
Nausea and car sickness can also cause foaming at the mouth in dogs. This is because the body produces excess saliva in an attempt to protect the digestive system from irritation.
If a dog is prone to motion sickness, it is important to take precautions such as feeding them a light meal a few hours before travel and avoiding sudden movements.
4. Overexertion and Heat
Overexertion and heat can also cause foaming at the mouth in dogs. When a dog is overheated or has been exercising too vigorously, they may pant excessively and produce more saliva than usual. This can lead to foaming at the mouth, a sign that the dog needs to rest and cool down.
Heat stroke can be extremely dangerous to dogs since they don’t cool off their bodies as fast as humans do. Brachycephalic or short-nosed breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, as shown by numerous studies, because of their short snouts that makes it harder for them to regulate their body temperature.
5. Dental Diseases
Dental diseases such as periodontal disease or tooth abscesses can cause foaming at the mouth in dogs. Luckily, preventing dental issues in your pet is essentially entirely in your court by ensuring you brush their teeth at least twice per week,
The drooling happens because the bacteria in the mouth can produce toxins that irritate the gums and cause excessive salivation.
6. Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases such as rabies, tetanus, and distemper can also cause dog foaming at the mouth. These diseases are severe and require immediate veterinary attention.
Does Rabies Cause Foaming at the Mouth of a Dog?
One of the hallmark symptoms of rabies in dogs is excessive salivation or foaming at the mouth. This occurs due to the virus’s impact on the salivary glands, increasing saliva production. Rabies is a severe condition that can be fatal to both animals and humans.
Interestingly, one of the reasons that rabies causes dogs and other animals to foam at the mouth is because the virus spreads via saliva. As the infection takes hold, the animal (or human) will behave in ways most likely to spread the virus through saliva particles, like being unable to swallow water or hydrophobia (and spitting it out into the environment for the virus to spread) or biting other animals.
Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can cause foaming at the mouth in dogs. This occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists, cutting off blood flow to the vital organs. Bloat requires immediate veterinary attention and is most common in large to giant breeds.
Poisoning can cause foaming at the mouth in dogs as well as other changes like red or green diarrhea. The poisoning occurs when a dog ingests a toxic substance such as rat poison or household cleaners.
Household foods like Chocolate, grapes, xylitol (sweetened foods), garlic, and onions can all cause poisoning. Even exposure to skunk spray can cause toxicity in dogs and make them foam at the mouth.
In the video below, the dog foaming in at the mouth may need emergency treatment for poisoning:
9. Teething In Puppies
Puppies may foam at the mouth when they are teething. This is a natural response to the discomfort of new teeth coming in that can last for about six months.
10. Kidney and Liver Failure
Kidney and liver failure can cause foaming at the mouth in dogs when the kidneys can no longer filter waste products from the blood.
On top of the consistent mouth foaming, you may also notice stool color changes into yellow or green and consistent vomiting.
Seizures can cause foaming at the mouth in dogs that occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Certain seizures are caused by epilepsy and brain traumas, with research showing that seizures are the most prevalent neurological disorder in canines.
However, there are times when dogs foaming in the mouth before death experience seizures. This type of seizure occurs because the body is going into shock due to factors like poisoning or extreme dehydration.
Anaphylaxis can cause foaming at the mouth in dogs and is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Allergic reactions to various allergens like food, pollen, and chemicals are normal in many canines.
However, anaphylaxis takes allergic reactions to the next level, reaching fatality if proper medical attention isn’t offered. Luckily, these reactions are fairly rare in canines.
13. Disorders In The Saliva Glands Or Mouth
Disorders in the saliva glands or mouth can cause foaming at the mouth in dogs. This can occur when the glands are not producing enough saliva or when there is an obstruction in the mouth. It can also be because of tumors in the salivary glands. These disorders require veterinary attention for the glands to resume normal function.
Symptoms Accompanying Foaming at The Mouth
When a dog is foaming at the mouth, there are often accompanying behavioral changes. These changes may be subtle or more pronounced, depending on the severity of the condition. Some of the most common behavioral changes seen in dogs with foaming at the mouth include:
- Restlessness or agitation
- Excessive drooling or licking of the lips
- Disorientation or confusion
- Increased excitability or aggression
It is important to note that these behavioral changes may also indicate other medical conditions and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
Physical changes may be related to the underlying cause of the foaming or may be secondary to the foaming itself. Some of the most common physical changes seen in dogs with foaming at the mouth include:
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Rapid heart rate or palpitations
- Muscle tremors or spasms
- Seizures or convulsions
Should I be worried if my dog is foaming at the mouth?
Foaming at the mouth in dogs can be a concerning sight for pet owners. While it’s not always a cause for alarm, it’s important to understand when it’s normal and when it’s a sign of a serious health issue.
In most cases, foaming at the mouth in dogs results from excessive drooling. This can happen when a dog is excited or anxious or when they’ve been exercising or playing. It’s also common for dogs to drool excessively when they’re nauseous or have ingested something they shouldn’t have.
However, if your dog is foaming at the mouth and exhibiting other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing, it’s essential to seek veterinary help immediately. These symptoms could be signs of a severe health issue such as poisoning, heatstroke, or rabies.
If you’re unsure whether your dog’s foaming at the mouth is a cause for concern, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a veterinarian. They can help determine the underlying cause of the foaming and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.
Why is My Dog Shaking His Head While Foaming at the Mouth?
One possibility is the occurrence of a seizure, as shaking the head and foaming in the mouth can be associated with neurological episodes. Additionally, exposure to toxins can cause shaking of the head, disorientation, weakness, and mouth foaming.
Anything that causes discomfort can cause shaking the head as the dog tries to relieve the discomfort. These include dental issues, respiratory problems, allergies, and foreign objects stuck.
Why is My Dog Foaming at the Mouth and Has Diarrhea?
Ingestion of poison and dietary indiscretion are the most common causes of dogs foaming in the mouth with diarrhea. Other reasons may be liver failure, viral and bacterial infections, and foreign objects in the system.
How To Treat & Prevent A Dog’s Foamy Mouth
If your dog has a foamy mouth, there are some things you can do at home to help alleviate the problem. First, make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can cause excessive drooling, leading to foaming at the mouth.
Additionally, you may want to consider adjusting your dog’s diet. Some dogs may be allergic to certain ingredients in their food, which can cause excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth.
Another home remedy is to give your dog some ice cubes to chew on. This can help soothe any irritation in the mouth and reduce drooling. You can also try wiping your dog’s mouth with a damp cloth to remove any excess saliva.
If your dog’s foamy mouth persists or is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, it’s important to seek medical treatment. Your veterinarian can help determine the underlying cause of the foaming and provide appropriate treatment.
If your dog has an infectious disease, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics, antiviral medication, and even dental cleaning. If your dog has a neurological disorder, they may need to undergo further testing and treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is My Dog Foaming at the Mouth While Playing?
During intense physical activity or play, dogs may salivate excessively, leading to foam around the mouth. This is a natural response to exertion and is often accompanied by panting and increased respiration to cool down their bodies.
Why is my Female (Male) Dog Foaming at the Mouth?
Dogs foam in the mouth due to several factors like excitement, panting due to physical exertion, stress, or dental issues. Occasionally, a male dog may sense a female dog in heat and begin to foam at the mouth from excitement. More severe problems like poison, rabies, seizures, anaphylaxis, and organ failure can cause the panting.
Why is My Dog Foaming in the Mouth and Not Eating?
Your dog may be experiencing oral pain or discomfort, such as dental problems or mouth sores, making eating difficult or painful. Another reason could be an upset stomach or gastrointestinal issue, causing nausea and a lack of appetite. Toxin ingestion and organ failure can also cause inappetence and foaming in the mouth.
There are several reasons why a dog may foam at the mouth, such as excitement, anxiety, dental issues, seizures, poisoning, and diseases like rabies. It is crucial to observe the dog’s behavior, environment, and any recent changes in routine to determine the cause.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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