When you see a dog foam at the mouth, more often than not your mind instantly jumps to one word: Rabies. While this is a potential cause of the foam around a dog’s mouth, the chances are pretty slim that rabies is the culprit. That’s because foam at a dog’s mouth happens for a number of reasons.
1. Physical Activity
As any owner knows, when dogs play with intensity they tend to salivate excessively. This excess drool, combined with heavy breathing, can cause things to get a little bubbly, giving your dog the appearance of foaming at the mouth. This can be a little yucky, especially if your pup comes over for some kisses, but not dangerous to their health in any way.
2. Stress or Anxiety
A second potential cause for foaming around the mouth is stress or anxiety. Dogs who are feeling unsettled often begin drooling excessively. This is because drooling is a bodily function triggered by a nervous reaction. Much like when they’re playing, a stressed or anxious dog may begin panting, which, when combined with the drool can cause foaming to occur. Once your pup calms down, the foaming subsides.
There are wide ranges of illnesses that can cause foaming at the mouth. On the less serious end of things are stomachaches. If your dog has consumed something with a foul taste that is upsetting their stomach, they will do everything they can to rid it from their body, including spitting and panting. If the taste won’t go away or their stomach continues to hurt, the combination of panting and drooling will cause foaming around the mouth. As soon as they’ve rid themselves of whatever they ate and are feeling better, the foaming will disappear.
On the more serious end of the spectrum are issues like seizures and rabies. When a dog is having a seizure, they begin to drool and pant excessively, which results in a layer of foam building up around the mouth. In this situation, foaming is not an issue but it is important that your dog receives veterinary care to determine the cause of the seizure.
As everyone knows, one of the most telling signs of rabies is excessive foaming around the mouth, paired with erratic behavior. If you suspect that the foaming around your dog’s mouth is caused by rabies, seek veterinary care immediately.
4. Dental Issues
Poor dental hygiene can also be the underlying cause of foam around the mouth. If your dog’s mouth or teeth are in pain from cavities or gingivitis, they will exhibit excessive panting and salivation. As we know, this combination results in the buildup of thick foamy bubbles.
If your dog has ingested any amount of poison, foaming at the mouth will occur as your dog tries to rid it from their body. It goes without saying that if you suspect the foaming you see is caused by the ingestion of poison, contact your local pet poison helpline and bring your dog to either their own vet or emergency vet clinic.
6. Trouble Swallowing
This one can be a little bit tricky for owners to identify, but if your dog is having trouble swallowing, they may begin foaming at the mouth. A common cause of this difficulty is something, such as a stick or a piece of a toy, being lodged at the back of their throat or mouth.
In some situations, this trouble swallowing could also be paired with difficult breathing, but not always. If you suspect that a foreign object is causing your dog’s difficult swallowing, give their mouth a visual inspection to see if you can see the object. If you can safely remove it yourself, do so, but if not contact your veterinarian immediately.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why dog’s foam at the mouth. If you notice some foam buildup around your dog’s mouth, the underlying cause is likely harmless but it’s still important to be aware of more serious potential causes.