Occasionally it is rabies that will make a dog foam at the mouth. However, there are a few other possibly causes of foaming at the mouth that thankfully don’t have anything to do with rabies.
Why a Dog Might Be Foaming at the Mouth
1. Simple overexertion from physical activity
A dog engaged in heavy work or play is using a lot of energy — and breathing more heavily. As your dog rapidly pants, the oxygen he is taking in can cause the saliva in the mouth to foam up.
The mouth foam usually will go away as your dog’s system begins to settle down. As your dog drinks water or lies down, the respiration will return to normal and the foam will disappear.
2. Upset stomach
Another reason a dog may foam at the mouth is that he has eaten something that tastes bad. The dog will spit, pant and do lots of other things to try to get that revolting taste out. If he becomes distressed, it will only worsen the salivation and the foaming.
Nausea can also be accompanied by foaming as it causes the salivary glands to start working. Have you ever noticed how when you feel you are going to throw up, your saliva starts pooling?
In a case like this, look around to figure out just what your dog has consumed. In some cases, he has simply eaten something that is making him feel sick, but once he vomits he will feel better almost right away. In other cases, you will need to seek a veterinarian’s attention.
Believe it or not, anxiety can cause a dog to foam at the mouth.
A dog who is under a lot of stress may have heavier breathing, causing the classic foaming to occur. If your dog is high-strung or comes from an abusive background, you may see this happen.
If your dog has an illness or a disease that affects the respiratory system, you could see foaming at the mouth. Ask your veterinarian about symptoms and whether or not you should be concerned.
Each disease or illness is different, and each affects dogs differently. (This is similar to when your friend catches a cold that has been going around and she quickly gets over it, but then you get it and you’re down for 2 weeks and feel like death the whole time.)
Dogs also can foam at the mouth when they are having a seizure. Sometimes it’s obvious when your dog is having a seizure — she will be disoriented then flop over and move her legs even though she’s unconscious. A seizure can be over quickly or last several minutes. If you suspect your dog is having seizures, see the vet.
This video shows Poqueta the Chihuahua foaming at the mouth — and the suspected culprit is seizures:
5. Dental problems
Poor dental hygiene may be to blame. Cavities, gingivitis or pain will cause panting and salivation, which turns into those foamy bubbles.
Keep the teeth clean and inspect them regularly for signs of decay or breakage. Broken teeth hurt. If you find evidence of decay or breakage, talk with your vet about getting the teeth and gums cleaned, and the tooth removed if necessary.
Keep in mind that seeing foam at the mouth is not always an indicator of rabies. But there’s always that slight chance that rabies is the cause.
Symptoms of rabies in a dog include rapid behavioral changes, fever, and sensitivity to stimuli such as sounds or lights. Infected animals may also become disoriented or suffer from leg paralysis, which causes the animal to stagger and have difficulty walking. Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles may occur, which is usually what causes the well-known foaming at the mouth to occur.
With such a deadly disease, we are lucky to have a vaccination. So please make sure that your dog is current for the rabies vaccination.
Don’t Miss: 26 Warning Signs of Rabies in Dogs
It’s never a bad idea to check with your veterinarian when you see anything that makes you uncomfortable as a pet caregiver. Foaming at the mouth could be something simple to diagnose and treat once your pet has been brought in.
This pet health content was reviewed by a veterinarian.