It is naturally frightening and alarming to see your dog vomiting pink foam, especially if he’s never done it before. You did the right thing by running a search. But why do dogs vomit pink foam? Should you be concerned, and how should you respond? Well, what is to follow includes answers to all of these questions and more.
So, why is your dog vomiting pink foam? Your dog may be vomiting pink foam because he’s feeling nauseous, or suffering from an irritated stomach (such as a stomach ulcer). Other times it could be your dog has eaten something toxic. He could have contracted hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) or another medical problem.
As you can see, something is up.
Though the seriousness of the issue can be context dependent.
So a quite disclaimer before we get started – call a vet.
Get them to check your dog over.
Besides, you don’t want to take any chances here.
And you are going to need their expertise to diagnose and properly treat your dog.
Nevertheless, here is what the research suggests pink foam vomit can be caused by, and appropriate responses against each.
Why Is My Dog Vomiting Pink Foam?
If you see your dog vomiting pink foam, he could have nausea or an irritated stomach (sometimes from a severe allergic reaction). Some dogs will have eaten something toxic or have gotten hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE).
Your Dog Is Feeling Nauseous
If your dog is experiencing severe nausea, he may throw up pink foam if he’s vomiting with a lot of force.
Severe vomiting can rupture some of the small blood vessels located in your dog’s esophagus, leading to pink tinges in his vomit.
Apart from the pink foam, other signs your dog may be nauseous include:
- More swallowing than usual.
- Excess drooling or licking.
- Dehydration. To check for dehydration, test your dog’s skin for elasticity. Pinch a fold of loose skin at your dog’s neck scruff. Release it and make sure it springs back to its original position – if it doesn’t, he’s probably dehydrated.
- Eating grass (dogs instinctively do this as a general rule to help their digestive process).
- Heaving, retching, or gagging.
Your Dog’s Stomach Is Irritated
Vomit with pink foam could indicate your dog’s stomach is highly irritated.
A common cause of pink foamy vomit is stomach ulcers – you might see specks of blood in the pink foam. Other times your dog may experience a severe allergic reaction.
If your dog is experiencing stomach problems, you may notice other symptoms, such as:
- Excess lip licking (or sometimes licking the air), indicating nausea too.
- Loss of appetite (your dog will instinctively not be drawn to food to irritate his stomach further).
- Gulping (dogs will do this to help fight acid reflux).
If you notice any of these signs, get your dog to the vet right away (see below).
Your Dog Has Eaten Something Toxic
Dogs will eat just about anything, whether it’s edible or not. Many food items we think are harmless are toxic to dogs and can cause pink vomit.
The pink foam is caused by your dog’s digestive tract becoming stressed and irritated.
Make sure your dog never eats any of the following:
- Cooked bones. Check with your vet which bones are suitable for your dog: many people give their dog a cooked bone as a treat without knowing the dangers. Cooked bones can splinter and cause a blockage or a tear in your dog’s digestive tract, which can have fatal consequences.
- Anything in the onion family, whether cooked, raw, or dry. Onions, garlic, and chives are highly toxic to dogs: these foods can cause red blood cell damage and gastrointestinal irritation.
- Corn on the cob. While dogs can digest the corn, bits of the cob can get caught in their digestive tract, causing a blockage that could be fatal.
- Macadamia nuts. These nuts can affect your dog’s nervous system and muscles, resulting in panting, swollen limbs, and weakness.
- Grapes or raisins. Common foods contain these items, such as cereals, biscuits, and cakes. Nobody knows the exact toxin that causes the problem, but grapes and raisins can cause serious liver damage and kidney failure (fatal).
- Alcohol. Even in small doses, alcohol can cause intoxication, sickness, diarrhea, and central nervous system damage.
- Chocolate. Chocolate is tempting for dogs and yet is highly poisonous because of its theobromine content (especially dark chocolate). Any chocolate can cause kidney failure (which is fatal).
- Xylitol. Xylitol is present in a lot of our sweets, drinks, chewing gum, and even some peanut butters (a common filler for Kong balls, so check the labels). Xylitol causes an insulin release in our bodies, which for dogs means they can go into hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is linked to blood clotting disorders and liver failure (which is fatal).
- Avocados. Avocados contain persin, which causes diarrhea and vomiting in dogs. Persin is also present in the plant and the seed.
Indigestible items can also cause pink vomit, such as:
- Batteries. Batteries are highly toxic and can cause perforation of the digestive tract, leading to blood mixing in with your dog’s vomit.
- Rawhide bones, cooked bones, pieces of wood, plastic toys (including dog toys!), or other items that can splinter. Anything that your dog can chew on and break pieces off of is susceptible to perforating or blocking his digestive tract.
Your Dog Has Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is a sudden occurrence of pink vomit in dogs.
Because it can come on quite quickly, it often mystifies and frightens owners.
Despite HGE being common in dogs, researchers are unsure what the causes are. Common denominators, though, seem to be:
- Eating food they shouldn’t (e.g., fatty foods, something toxic).
- Ingesting a foreign object.
- A sudden change in diet.
- An overgrowth of bacteria.
- Intestinal parasites.
- An infectious gastrointestinal disease.
- Clotting disorders.
- And more!
In addition to pink (or even red) vomit, there are additional symptoms, such as:
- Bloody diarrhea (or diarrhea with blood clots that look like jelly).
- Painful abdomen.
- Lack of appetite.
- Extreme weakness.
Your Dog Has Another Medical Problem
Other health conditions can cause pink vomit, such as:
- Parvovirus. Parvovirus is both contagious and deadly and requires aggressive emergency treatment (see below).
- A bacterial infection. Some infections (E. coli, salmonella, clostridia, or campylobacter) are more severe than others, but all require veterinary diagnosis and treatment (see below).
- Internal parasites. If a significant number of internal parasites are present (such as hookworm), this can lead to internal bleeding and pink vomit.
- A food allergy. Severe allergic reactions can cause blood in the vomit.
- A blood clot disorder. Cancer, liver failure, and ingesting toxins (including pesticides) can cause blood clots.
What To Do About Your Dog Vomiting Pink Foam
The steps to take if your dog is vomiting pink foam depends on what you suspect might be the cause. See if you can find the problem and act accordingly. If you are unsure, call your vet.
What To Do First
If you walk into the room and see your dog has thrown up pink vomit, here’s what to do:
- Remain calm. Your dog can pick up on your emotions, so you will be helping by not panicking (otherwise, he’ll panic, too).
- Look at the color of the vomit. If it’s red, first consider the color of your dog’s treats or food: many of these contain red food dye. If your dog hasn’t eaten anything tinged with red, you know the pink tinge comes from blood.
- Check your dog’s mouth. Look for any recent injuries or trauma (or a new bone).
- Think about your dog’s diet. Consider if your dog has had any dietary changes recently.
- Take photos of the vomit and collect a sample. You can swipe a plastic bag into it and then seal it up.
The more information your vet has, the better they’ll be able to help you and your dog.
If you are unsure what the problem could be (most of us aren’t vets, after all), it’s always best to phone your vet for advice.
If you think you know the cause of your dog’s pink vomit, take the appropriate steps (see below).
If You Suspect Your Dog Is Feeling Nauseous Or Has an Irritated Stomach
If you think your dog is simply suffering from a bout of nausea or his stomach is slightly irritated, call your vet for advice.
If your vet says you can monitor your dog at home, you can ask them about these remedies to try:
- Fasting. Your vet may recommend a fast of 12-24 hours for your dog – but some dogs (especially small breeds or dogs with other health conditions) are not able to fast. Ask your vet what to do once the fasting period is complete (e.g., feed your dog a bland diet).
- Canned pumpkin. Some holistic vets recommend feeding your dog 100% canned pumpkin (no sugar, no additives). Pure canned pumpkin has a low GI (glycemic index), so your dog can absorb it slowly, which can help his upset stomach and digestive tract. Check quantities with your vet first: most small dogs (around 5 pounds) can have half a teaspoon of canned pumpkin. Larger dogs (around 75 pounds) can have 1 tablespoon.
- Ice cubes. Ice cubes can help your dog stay hydrated during a bout of vomiting. Too much water can upset his stomach further, so get advice from your vet first. If your dog keeps down small quantities of ice chips, you can slowly increase the amount and frequency.
If You Believe Your Dog Has Eaten Something Toxic
If you believe your dog has eaten something toxic (see list above), get him to the vet as a matter of urgency.
You can also call the hotline for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426 4435 (they may charge a fee). They could evaluate the level of toxicity of the poison and recommend care.
There are no home remedies for toxic substances – your dog needs to get these poisons out of his system, and your vet can do this most effectively.
If You Think Your Dog May Have HGE or Another Medical Condition
If you have spotted any of the symptoms associated with HGE (see above), treat this as a medical emergency.
Diarrhea and vomiting are serious enough as they can cause dehydration, but HGE is even more serious.
Get your dog to the vet immediately. If your local vet is not available, take him to the nearest pet emergency treatment center.
The quicker you act, the better the chances of saving your dog’s life.
The best treatment for HGE addresses your dog’s dehydration and eliminates the vomiting. Treatment usually involves:
- Aggressive fluid therapy (with your dog in the hospital).
- Antibiotics delivered via IV (to help with intestinal upset).
- Anti-nausea medication, also delivered via IV (to control the vomiting).
Your dog will probably need to stay in the hospital for at least 24 hours. Some cases require hospitalization of up to 72 hours.
Further treatment varies for each dog, depending on what your vet feels might have been the cause.
Once your dog isn’t vomiting anymore and he can keep down oral medications, he’ll usually be able to go home.
It will take some time for your dog’s digestive tract to recover, but as long as you are diligent with his aftercare (bland food, medications, etc.), he can make a good recovery.
Other Medical Conditions
Other medical conditions can cause pink foam, all of which require immediate medical treatment:
- Parvovirus. Parvovirus often shows itself with severe vomiting as well as diarrhea. There is no cure, but the faster you get your dog to the vet, the better his chances of surviving.
- A bacterial Infection. Sometimes your dog can catch a bacterial infection: in addition to pink vomit, your dog may have fatigue, loss of appetite, an upset stomach, or a fever. Get your dog to the vet for the correct diagnosis and treatment.
- Intestinal parasites. Parasites like hookworm can attach themselves to your dog’s gut wall, causing internal bleeding and pink vomit.
- A food allergy. Don’t try to do a process of elimination yourself, as this can be potentially dangerous for your dog. If you suspect a food allergy, your vet will carry out a skin, blood, or saliva test to find the culprit. Common irritants for dogs are lactose, grains (corn or wheat), dairy, eggs, and fish.
- Blood clot disorders. Blood clots can be a sign of cancer or liver failure: internal bleeding leads to pink vomit.
Preventing Vomiting Pink Foam In Dogs
Although you will never be able to prevent your dog from vomiting pink foam 100 percent of the time, there are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of a recurrence:
- Make sure you provide your dog with high-quality dog food.
- Don’t give your dog fatty foods.
- Don’t give your dog table scraps (no matter how much he begs!)
- Avoid abrupt changes to your dog’s diet.
- Try to avoid stressful situations for your dog as much as possible.
- Keep on top of preventative care for your dog (regular vet checkups, vaccines, deworming, etc.)
- Make sure his chew toys are appropriate for his age and size.
- Educate yourself on toxic foods for dogs, and keep them out of reach if you eat them yourself.
A dog vomiting pink foam is alarming.
And this is a matter that is best addressed by the vets. At least, getting their thoughts, and opinions.
So certainly, start there.
You cant take any chances when it comes to the health and welfare of your dog.
Besides, it’s better to rule things out and put in place a recovery plan set out by a professional – with a tailored approach and close monitoring along the way.
The cause of the pink vomit may not be as serious as at first feared, but at least you will know for sure, and can respond appropriately.
Other guides you may want to check out:
- Dog Vomits After Exercise [Why & What Do Do About It]
- Dog Vomiting Nothing Coming Up [Why & What To Do]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.