Pet parents spend a significant amount of time worrying about their canine companions. Your dog can’t tell you what’s wrong, so when you see signs of a potential health issue, it can be scary. In many cases, nose foaming isn’t anything to worry about. However, there are some dangerous potential causes, including poisoning and rabies.
Why is my dog’s nose foamy?
When you notice your dog’s nose is foamy, you may feel your heart sink, thinking that something serious is wrong. This is a possibility, but in most cases a foamy nose isn’t anything to worry about.
Heat is one of the most common causes of nose foaming. Dogs sweat through two areas, their paws and their nose. This is very different from humans, who sweat all over their bodies to cool themselves. Panting is a dog’s main method of cooling, but they do release small amounts of sweat through their paws and nose.
Just like humans, dogs sweat contains salt. This can cause your dog’s nose to foam. If you notice your dog only has a foamy nose when exposed to high temperatures, this is likely the cause.
Exercise can cause your dog’s nose to foam as well, for the same reason as heat. When your dog is active, their body temperature goes up. Dogs sweat when they exercise, just like humans.
If your dog’s nose foams after a lengthy walk or rigorous play session, it’s probably because of exercise. In this case, you have nothing to worry about. Your dog’s body is doing what it’s meant to do.
New or Exciting Smell
A new or exciting smell can also cause your dog’s nose to foam. The exact cause for this is unclear, but it seems to be related to excessive sniffing.
Dogs keep their noses wet because it enhances their sense of smell. In addition to nasal mucus secretions, they will sometimes lick their nose to keep it moist. This may play a part in their nose being foamy.
Dogs get allergies just as people do. Allergies typically cause a clear nasal discharge, but it’s possible for it to appear foamy as well. If your dog sneezes, scratches frequently, or coughs, allergies may be to blame. Allergies can also cause your dog’s eyes to become red or watery.
Another cause of nasal discharge is nasal infection. The symptoms are similar to those of allergies, and include sneezing, runny nose, gagging, watery eyes, and nasal discharge.
Your dog may also have a fever and be lethargic. Nasal discharge due to infection is often yellow or green. It’s uncommon for nose foam to be caused by a nasal infection, but it’s a common cause of nasal discharge.
Polyps or Tumors
Polyps or tumors can also cause nasal discharge. Signs of polyps or tumors include blood, pus, or mucus discharge. You may notice swelling on one side of the nose and difficulty or noisy breathing as well.
Polyps and tumors aren’t a common problem for dogs, but they do occur. Surgery is often needed to remove the mass.
What to do about my dog’s foamy nose?
What to do about your dog’s foamy nose will vary greatly depending on the underlying cause.
If your dog’s foamy nose is caused by rising temperatures, you’ll simply need to avoid heat exhaustion. A foamy nose due to heat is nothing to worry about, but you do need to be aware of the signs your dog is getting too hot. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, and loss of consciousness.
A general rule of thumb is that if you are hot, your dog is too. You can avoid heat stroke by only allowing your dog out for short periods in very hot weather, providing shade, and cool drinking water.
If your dog’s nose foams during exercise, it’s simply because they sweat. There’s no need to change your dog’s routine as long as they are healthy and able to withstand the activity. The foamy nose is simply their way of sweating.
If your dog overheats during exercise, avoid heavy activity during the hot part of the day, or allow them to exercise indoors.
A foamy nose due to excessive sniffing isn’t a cause for concern. As long as they aren’t sniffing something harmful, let them smell away.
If your dog is experiencing nasal discharge due to allergies, it’s best to speak to their vet. If the allergen can’t be avoided, your dog may need allergy medication.
If you suspect your dog has a nasal infection, you’ll need to seek veterinary treatment. Antibiotics may be needed.
Nasal Polyps or Tumors
Nasal polyps or tumors must be treated by your veterinarian. In the case of benign tumors or polyps, surgery can be performed to remove the mass. Cancerous tumors are usually treated with radiation.
Why is my dog’s nose and mouth foamy?
When you see a dog with a foamy mouth and nose, your mind may go to the possibility of rabies. The good news is the cause is usually much more benign. However, it’s important to determine the cause in case it is a serious health issue.
This is the most common cause of foaming at the mouth and nose. Heavy breathing and panting due to exercise causes your dog’s saliva to look frothy, or foamy. Dogs also drool more during periods of heavy activity. Sweat from your dog’s nose can also appear to be foam coming from the mouth.
As long as your dog isn’t overexerting themselves, this is nothing to worry about. If your dog seems tired or too hot, take a break and let them rest.
Heat stroke can cause your dog to foam at the mouth and nose. Symptoms of heat stroke include heavy panting, lethargy, disorientation, and diarrhea, and vomiting.
If your dog begins to show signs of heat stroke or exhaustion, get them into the shade or a cool area. Offer plenty of cool water to drink. Pour cool (never cold) water on them. Repeat until your dog is feeling better. Take them to the vet to ensure they are ok, particularly if they become disoriented, uncoordinated, or lost consciousness.
Stress or Anxiety
Just like humans, dogs can experience high stress or anxiety. When you are anxious, you likely notice that your breathing speeds up, similar to exercise. Dogs also experience heavy breathing or panting during periods of anxiety. Just like when they exercise, this can cause foaming of the mouth and nose.
When a dog has an upset stomach, they will often drool excessively. This extra drool, combined with heavy breathing and panting, can cause their nose and mouth to foam.
If your dog is vomitting or experiencing diarrhea, this is likely the cause of their foaming mouth. It can also be caused by milder stomach issues, like mild nausea or heartburn.
Seizures can occur in dogs. The symptoms are similar to those seen in people. The symptoms of partial seizures include staring off into space, or sky gazing. Mouth foaming often occurs during complete seizures. Signs include shaking, panting, loss of coordination, and agitation. The dog may lose consciousness or become disoriented.
Panting and inability to swallow during a seizure cause the mouth and nose to foam. If your dog is experiencing seizures, they need immediate veterinary attention.
Dental problems are a common culprit for mouth foaming. When your dog experiences dental problems, it causes excess salivation. This, combined with stress from discomfort or pain, can cause mouth foaming.
Common dental issues include abscesses, cavities, broken teeth, and mouth injuries. If your dog has a dental issue, they will need to visit the vet.
Poisoning is a highly concerning cause of mouth foaming. Some poisonous substances irritate the sensitive tissues in the mouth, which causes excess salivation and mouth foaming.
If you suspect your dog has ingested something poisonous, call the vet or animal poison control immediately. Do not try to induce vomiting without speaking to your vet.
Choking can also cause your dog’s mouth to foam. Often, a piece of bone or a foreign object gets stuck in the dog’s throat. You may notice they have difficulty breathing. They may make gagging or choking sounds.
Check your dog’s mouth for any visible obstruction. If you see something, pull it out carefully if you can. If your dog can’t breathe, you may need to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
Place your hand in a fist on your dog’s abdomen just below their ribs. Give a quick push. You may have to perform this a few times to get the object to dislodge. Once the object is removed, take your dog to the vet to check for internal injury.
If you’ve recently applied topical flea medication, this could be why your dog’s mouth is foaming. Some flea medications will cause mouth foaming if your dog licks it. This is why it’s recommended to put the medication in an area your dog can’t reach, like the base of their neck.
However, if you have more than one dog, they may lick the medication off each other. It’s a natural instinct for a dog to remove any foreign substance from their fur and that of their companions. They don’t realize the medication is helpful, and that ingesting it can be harmful.
It’s very rare for a dog to contract rabies in the U.S. due to rabies vaccinations. However, about 400-500 cases occur each year in domestic pets, including dogs, cats, and ferrets.
It’s unlikely your dog’s mouth is foaming due to rabies, but it’s important to be aware of the signs. If a dog does contract rabies, other animals and their owners are at risk as well.
Soon after a bite from an infected animal, the dog will show behavioral changes. A quiet dog will become rambunctious. A calm dog will become agitated. Friendly dogs become nervous or shy.
Furious rabies occurs when the dog becomes aggressive. They will also eat non-food items and appear agitated.
Dumb rabies is more common. Progressive paralysis occurs, often starting with the face, throat, and limbs. Owners often believe the dog is choking because the throat becomes paralysed.
Both types of rabies are ultimately fatal without early treatment. Both can cause the mouth and nose to foam.