Your dog starts coughing and then finally coughs up a white, frothy liquid. What is happening?
Why do dogs cough
Like humans, dogs cough to clear their throats. They cough to clear the airways and get rid of irritants, secretions, foreign particles, viruses, fungi and bacteria.
The mechanism of cough in humans and dogs is also the same: there is rapid inhalation, followed by exhalation, accompanied by a strong release of air.
In humans, coughing can be voluntary or involuntary. But in dogs there is no such thing as a social cough; they don’t “clear their throats” to get someone’s attention or start a conversation. Coughing in dogs is something that needs attention, especially if it happens again and again throughout the day or with other accompanying symptoms.
There may be several possible causes for cough. In the event of an accidental cough, the dog may simply choke on some food, or his airways may simply react to some temporary irritant. This type of cough is often short-lived and stops once the airway is clear. However, it is difficult for a dog to clear its throat if it has a foreign object, such as a fox; if so, the dog will need veterinary intervention.
A cough is called “productive” when it is able to secrete. The unproductive cough is dry, without secretions.
Owners often confuse productive coughing, which causes foaming with vomiting. Therefore, they will tell their veterinarians that their dog is vomiting white foam, without mentioning the important detail that the dog coughed before the foam made its way.
Viruses and bacteria provoke cough as part of their survival strategy; cough helps germs to spread to other dogs. So a dog with a cough should be isolated from other dogs to prevent possible infection, just to be safe before confirming the diagnosis.
Conditions that can cause dogs to cough foam
Any dog who coughs foam should see a veterinarian because some serious conditions can cause this behavior. Some reasons are described below, with videos for illustration. These videos can disturb sensitive viewers. Discretion is recommended.
If your dog has been to a veterinarian, groomer, dog park or kennel recently, he or she may have had a cough, also known as brothel, as it can be caused by the bacterium Bordetella . The incubation period for this upper respiratory tract infection is usually three to ten days. This condition is easily transmitted from one dog to another. Usually the dog will cough repeatedly and eventually turn his back and then hold on, producing white, frothy saliva. This foam can be left as a puddle on the floor or the dog can swallow it.
There is a vaccine against brothel for dogs, but it is not terribly effective, as it covers only a few organisms from the many bacteria and viruses that cause cinnamon cough.
When a dog has advanced heart disease or heart failure, its circulation is affected. Heart disease in dogs often causes coughing, and then as it progresses, other complications such as ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen). This cough can be caused by an enlarged heart that presses against the trachea. It can start as an unproductive cough, but then it can become productive as heart failure occurs and often occurs at night. Lack of proper circulation will soon lead to the collection of blood in the lungs, explains veterinarian Carol Osborne. This causes the dog to cough up blood mixed with mucus and saliva, which manifests as a pink, frothy mixture.
If your dog has an unexplained recurrent cough, ask your veterinarian, even if there are no signs of pink foam or other symptoms. You don’t want your dog’s condition to get worse by reaching the dog’s point in the video. Heartworm disease can also cause a “heart cough.”
I swell up
Swelling (stretching and twisting of the stomach) is a life-threatening condition and all dog owners should be aware of its symptoms. It is more common in breeds with deep breasts. While bloating usually causes bloating, walking, and unproductive pulling, some sick dogs may be able to pull and foam.
In the video below you will see a dog suffering from swelling and there is a moment when the camera shows some liquid foam that the dog has grown. Fortunately, the dog in the video survived, but the mortality rate is quite high, especially when treatment is not sought in time.
Bile Vomiting Syndrome (Yellow Foam Vomiting)
As mentioned earlier, many homeowners confuse coughing with vomiting. Vomiting can also be confused with a cough. When a dog has bile vomiting, it can wake up in the middle of the night to vomit and wriggle, leaving a small puddle of whitish or yellowish foam. Such vomiting can also occur during the day, especially in dogs that are fed only once a day. This vomiting of yellow foam is caused by the accumulation of bile, as a result of which the stomach is emptied for too long. According to Vet Info, some dogs can be helped by simply giving them a snack. Dogs with this problem who eat once a day can benefit from meals twice a day.
In the video, notice the stomach contractions as the dog prepares to vomit.
What if a dog drinks a lot of water and then vomits frothy fluid back? According to veterinarian Dr. Kara, this can happen to dogs who vomit frequently and are exposed to heartburn. Their esophageal sphincter may swell and become less effective in dealing with a full stomach (as when the dog drinks too much). Placing large rocks in the water tank to prevent dogs from swallowing water at once can help. An acid reducer can also help. However, in some cases, reflux may be due to a megaesophage, consult your veterinarian.
While canine cough is caused by viruses or bacteria, cough can also be caused by a fungus. Cod Valley is a fungal condition quite common in the desert Southwest, caused by spores found in the soil that causes a persistent cough. The disease can cause fever and spread to the joints. The cough may be somewhat similar to cinnamon cough, with a cough followed by mucus. While in a kennel cough the body tries to expel bacteria or viruses, in the valley fever tries to get rid of the fungus. At least Valley Fever is not contagious from one dog to another.
As you can see, there can be several causes for coughing and foaming. As many conditions can be serious, it is always recommended that the dog call a veterinarian.