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Why is my dog throwing up white foam and having diarrhea?

As a pet parent, it’s natural to worry about your dog when they are sick. If they are having diarrhea and throwing up white foam, it can seem alarming. Your mind may go to the worst possible causes, which leads you to worry even more. 

The good news is, that most of the time these symptoms aren’t serious. However, they can indicate a serious problem that requires veterinary attention. 

Why is my dog throwing up white foam and having diarrhea?

The most common cause of a dog throwing up white foam and having diarrhea is gastroenteritis. This can have a wide range of causes, including infection and eating a new food. However, in some cases, these symptoms indicate a serious condition like pancreatitis or parvo. 

Why It Occurs 

The symptoms can appear serious, but they aren’t always. Your dog will vomit white foam when something irritates their stomach. It’s their bodies’ way of trying to rid themselves of whatever is causing the irritation. 

They may also dry heave or gag. 

Diarrhea can also be triggered by your dog’s body attempting to rid themselves of something that is irritating their digestive tract. Diarrhea flushes waste from the system quickly. 

Simple Digestive Upset

Dietary indiscretion is one of the most common causes of simple stomach upset in dogs that can lead to vomiting, white foam and diarrhea. This essentially means your pooch ate something they shouldn’t have. 

Grass, non-food items, and spoiled food can cause this type of stomach upset.  High fat, high sugar, or spicy foods can also cause stomach issues. 

Eating a new food can also trigger this type of digestive upset. Even eating their regular food too quickly can cause vomiting. 

Acid Reflux

Just like humans, dogs can have acid reflux. This occurs when the bile in your dog’s intestines comes back into their stomach. It irritates the stomach lining, causing them to vomit white foam. 

This occurs most often after they’ve went a long time without eating, which is typically the morning. They may also experience symptoms in the evening, before eating dinner. 

Virus or Infection 

Another common cause is a stomach virus or infection. This can occur from eating spoiled food, but it can also be air borne. The symptoms of a stomach virus or bacterial infection in dogs are similar to the symptoms that occur in humans. 

Your pooch will experience vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. They may also have a sore stomach. Other symptoms can include lethargy and fever, which aren’t present with other causes of digestive upset. 

Toxic Substances

One of the more concerning reasons your dog may be vomiting white foam and has diarrhea is ingesting something toxic. Some human foods, including dark chocolate, xylitol, and grapes, can be toxic to dogs. 

Other dangers include household cleaners, some plants, medication, and fertilizers. 

If you suspect your dog ingested something toxic, they need immediate veterinary care. In addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, your dog may experience pale gums, fast heartbeat, vomiting blood, weakness, or collapse. 


Bloat occurs when digestive gases become trapped in the stomach. The pressure continues to increase as food breaks down. In severe cases, this can cause the stomach to twist, which can be fatal. 

Bloat is a condition that occurs quickly and can be fatal within hours. The symptoms of bloat include inability to pass gas, poop, or vomit. The dog will often retch or dry heave uncontrollably. 

A swollen stomach and severe pain are also symptoms. The cause of bloat isn’t completely understood. However, eating too fast and eating dry dog food increases the risk of developing bloat. 


Pancreatitis can be either acute or chronic. It occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This causes it to activate digestive enzymes before they reach the intestines. 

These enzymes can then damage the pancreases and surrounding organs, essentially beginning to digest them. 

Vomitting and diarrhea are common with pancreatitis. Your pooch may also experience abdominal pain and a decreased appetite.

The pain of an attack often causes the dog to get into a praying position. Their front body will be on the ground with their back half raised in the air. 

What to do if my dog throwing up white foam and having diarrhea?

If your pooch is throwing up white foam and experiencing diarrhea, you may be able to manage it at home. If it’s due to simple stomach upset or a virus, it will typically resolve over a few days. 

If you are concerned it may be something more serious, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet before giving any treatment. 

Medications for Stomach Upset

There are a few medications that are safe to give your pooch for stomach upset. 

Famotide is an antacid designed for humans, but it’s also safe for dogs. The dosage is .5 mg per pound of body weight, up to twice a day. A 10 pound dog would have 5 mg of famotide, for example. It’s best to give the medication before meals, to help prevent digestive upset. 

Pepto bismol can also be helpful for stomach upset. This can help both vomiting and diarrhea by settling and calming the stomach. 

The dosage is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. For dogs over 40 pounds, 4 teaspoons is the maximum dosage. You can give them another dose in 6 to 8 hours. However, if your pooch isn’t getting better after a few doses, you should call your vet. 


Diet can also help calm your dog’s tummy troubles. If they have severe vomiting and diarrhea, withhold food for up to 24 hours. Then, you’ll want to feed them a bland diet. 

Give them rice and boiled chicken, in a 2 to 1 ratio. If you feed them 1 cup of food, they will get 2/3 of a cup of rice and 1/3 cup chicken. 

Once their symptoms have stopped, slowly transition them back to their regular food. Begin with 1/4 regular food and 3/4 chicken and rice.

Every 1 to 2 days, increase their regular food by 1/4, until they are only eating regular food. 


Pumpkin is an excellent addition to your dog’s diet, and it can ease digestive troubles. Small dogs should have 1 tablespoon of pumpkin up to twice a day. 

Medium dogs can have 2 tablespoons, and large dogs can have up to 4 tablespoons. 

You can feed them pumpkin alone or use it as a meal topper. Pumpkin is easily digestible, and the fiber it contains can help ease diarrhea. 

Once the tummy troubles are over, you can continue to give your pooch pumpkin. It helps promote healthy digestion, and is full of vitamins and minerals your pooch needs. 

When to see a vet about a dog vomiting and having diarrhea

Most cases of  vomiting and diarrhea aren’t serious, but some are. Some symptoms indicate that you should contact your vet immediately. 

Non-productive Vomitting

Non-productive vomiting can be a sign of bloat. If your pooch is retching but unable to vomit, look for other signs of bloat. These include a bloated stomach, inability to poop or pass gas, and severe stomach pain. 

Bloat is an emergency. The condition can kill your dog within a matter of hours, so prompt treatment is essential. 

Repeated Vomitting or Diarrhea

One or two episodes of vomiting or diarrhea isn’t that concerning. However, if your pooch has more than 3 episodes within an 8 hour period, you’ll need to give your vet a call. 

Repeated vomiting and diarrhea can indicate a more serious condition, and it puts them at risk for dehydration. 


When your dog has ongoing vomiting and diarrhea, they are losing water. They may also avoid drinking, which prevents them from replenishing their system. 

It’s important to check for dehydration. If your dog is dehydrated, you’ll need to take them to the vet. 

One way to check for dehydration is to check their gums. Healthy gums are wet and pink. If they are tacky, dry, or pale, your dog is likely dehydrated.

Another method is to pull up their skin at the shoulder. The skin should immediately go back to it’s original position. If it remains pulled up, your pooch is dehydrated. 

The faster the skin goes back to normal, the more hydrated they are. If it takes several seconds, you’ll need to speak with your vet. 


If your pooch is much less energetic than usual, this is a sign something may be wrong. Most dogs will act like themselves if the problem is only digestive upset. 

If your dog is very lethargic or uninterested in their normal activities, give your vet a call. 


Bloody vomiting or diarrhea can indicate a serious medical issue. This isn’t always a cause for alarm, but it should be evaluated by your vet as soon as possible.

Other Signs Your Dog Needs Care

Put simply, if your pooch is displaying symptoms beyond just vomiting and diarrhea, you should contact your vet. These include fever, labored breathing, and disorientation. If you worry something is wrong, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.