Why is My Dog Coughing Up White Foam? An In-depth Examination

Your dog is part of your family; seeing them in distress is deeply concerning. One symptom that can cause significant worry is when your dog starts coughing up white foam. This article will delve into the primary causes of this symptom, commonly known as kennel cough, and explore secondary causes such as heart disease, pneumonia, collapsing trachea, bloat or GDV, and megaesophagus. We will also look into specific situations such as when your dog is coughing up white foam and not eating, shaking, eating grass, vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, acting lethargic, sneezing, gagging, or producing mucus.

Primary Causes of this Symptom

My Dog Coughing Up White Foam

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, or Bordetella, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that often results in a dog coughing up white foam. It’s typically contracted when dogs interact with other infected dogs in places like kennels, dog parks, or grooming parlors.

Heart Disease

Heart disease in dogs can lead to congestive heart failure, which often manifests as a persistent cough where the dog may even cough up white foam.


Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, can cause a dog to cough up white or slightly yellowish foam. This is due to the excess mucus produced in the lungs.

Collapsing Trachea

Collapsing trachea, a condition more common in small breeds, can result in a distinct, honking cough and possibly coughing up white foam.

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Bloat or GDV

Bloat or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a serious condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists. This can lead to unproductive retching and foamy saliva, often mistaken for white foam.


Megaesophagus, a condition where the esophagus is enlarged, preventing proper food movement, can cause regurgitation of food and white foam.

Specific Situations

The symptom of a dog coughing up white foam can be accompanied by other signs such as:

  • Not eating: This could indicate nausea or stomach upset.
  • Shaking: Shaking or shivering may suggest the dog is in pain or experiencing anxiety.
  • Eating grass: Dogs often eat grass when they have an upset stomach.
  • Vomiting: A dog coughing up white foam and vomiting could indicate gastric issues.
  • Diarrhea: This may suggest a gastrointestinal problem.
  • Lethargy: If your dog is less active than usual, this could indicate an underlying disease.
  • Sneezing: Sneezing along with coughing up white foam might hint at a respiratory issue.
  • Gagging: Gagging might suggest a problem with the throat or esophagus.
  • Mucus production: Excessive mucus can be a sign of various respiratory and gastrointestinal issues.


Preventing a dog from coughing up white foam often depends on the underlying cause. Some general measures include regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, a balanced diet, and avoiding exposure to sick dogs.

When to Visit a Vet

If your dog is coughing up white foam and showing other concerning symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or difficulty breathing, it’s important to visit a vet immediately.


Treatment options will vary depending on the underlying cause and may include medications, surgery, dietary changes, or lifestyle adjustments.

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Recovery time and prognosis depend on the severity and cause of the symptom. However, with early detection and proper treatment, most dogs can recover fully.


While a dog coughing up white foam can be alarming, it’s important to remember that it’s a symptom, not a disease itself. Understanding the possible causes and knowing when to seek veterinary help can make all the difference for your furry friend’s health. Remember, early detection and treatment are key.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice.

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Frequently Asked Question

Will kennel cough go away on its own?
In many cases, kennel cough can resolve on its own within a week or two. However, severe cases might require veterinary attention.

What home remedy can I give my dog for coughing?
There are several home remedies that can help alleviate your dog’s cough. These include honey, steam therapy, and herbal tea. Remember, these remedies should not replace professional veterinary care.

Is coughing up white foam an emergency for dogs?
Coughing up white foam can be an emergency if it’s accompanied by other serious symptoms. These could indicate conditions like bloating or rabies, which require immediate veterinary attention.

Why is my dog coughing like something is stuck in his throat?
If your dog is coughing like something is stuck in their throat, it could be due to a foreign object, an infection, or a condition called tracheal collapse.