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Vomiting Foam

When a Chihuahua is Vomiting White or Yellow Foam

Overview

One of the most common issues that strikes this breed is the issue of vomiting up white or yellow foam. The actual description of vomiting is involuntary ejection of matter from the stomach through the mouth. 

Therefore, anything that is in the stomach may come out including partially digested food, non-food items that were accidentally swallowed, stomach acid or bile. 

So, if foam is coming out instead of food particles, what does this mean? 

White or yellow foam generally points to stomach bile. It may look like a liquid with foamy edges or the foam may be scattered throughout. It may be thin and watery or it may be a thicker substance. 

It may or may not have mucus mixed in. The color of this is usually yellow - and can be quite a bright color - but with some Chihuahuas it will be watered down and appear to be white. In some cases, it will have a green tint.

Bile is very different than stomach acid. Bile is a substance containing water, mucus, some fats and some salt. It is produced by the body (both humans and canines) to aid in the digestion of food and removal of waste. It is created in the liver, stored in the gallbladder and then released into the small intestines.

You may wonder how a Chihuahua can throw it up; it happens when it enters the stomach due to an aggravation that causes bile reflux.
Causes

The #1 reason why a Chihuahua throws up foam is that his stomach is too empty. Many owners are shocked to hear this since they have made sure to feed their Chihuahua on a regular basis. 

The problem is that this breed has a very small stomach, can digest food quickly and has a fast metabolism.

Since a Chihuahua only eats small meals - due to his tiny size - that food is absorbed very quickly, which leaves the stomach empty until the next meal or snack.
Treating this at Home

The way to help stop this from happening is to increase scheduled feeding and incorporate more snacks. 
Puppies - Growing pups should be given 3 meals per day plus snacks. This is advised even if the pup is not vomiting foam, since going too long in between feedings can cause other health issues such as hypoglycemia.

Snacks at this age are best reserved as rewards for following commands or good behavior such as going potty in the designated area.

If a puppy is throwing up white or yellow foam, meals should be increased to 4 times per day and snacks may need to be given more often as well. Keep in mind that as the pup grows, his calorie needs grow.

A 4 month old will need to eat more than a 3 month old and so on until he Chi has matured to his final adult weight. Only as an adult should the amount of food be leveled out and maintained.

Note: A Chihuahua may not want to eat right after vomiting the bile. While giving him more food is the answer, you can try to encourage him to take a few bites of food, but he may need a little bit of time for his stomach to calm down before eating. 

Do encourage him to drink water. When a Chihuahua has an upset stomach you will want to feed him light foods that are easy on the stomach such as rice, banana, sweet potato and/or oatmeal.
Adults - If your Chihuahua is a healthy weight, you will not need to increase the calories ingested throughout the day, but rather spread that food out over more feedings than you previously have. Owners can sometimes fall in the trap of thinking that an adult dog only needs to eat once a day or twice at most. 

That can save time and make preparing meals easy; however with this breed it causes long periods of time that the stomach is empty. 

Stomach acids start churning and the intestines become aggravated to the point of the bile moving into the stomach. There, with nothing to cushion it or absorb it, it will then be expelled out as a white or yellow liquid with foam and/or mucus.

Help for All Ages

Adding an extra meal can be tricky for those who are gone all day at work and the Chihuahua is left home alone. There are a few things that you can do:

1) Toys or dispensers that hold kibble that is released over a period of time can help; not only does it allow the puppy to eat while you are away, these types of toys can also help with separation anxiety as they keep the pup very busy.

2) Never rush breakfast or any meal for that matter. Especially in the morning, an owner may be rushing around and trying to get ready to leave the house. A bowl may be set down for the Chi but taken away before he is done eating. 

Some Chihuahuas may gulp down their food but others are slow and steady. Always make sure that your puppy has adequate time to eat at his own pace and finish all food given to him.

3) Keep meals very small so that you can increase the amount of feedings. If you Chihuahua normally eats 1/3 cup, 3 times per day, change this to 1/4 cup, 4 times per day.

4) If your Chihuahua vomits bile first thing in the morning, this usually means that sleeping at night is just too long for him to go without food. Due to this, stomach acids build up overnight and are regurgitated when the pup awakens.

In these cases, you'll want to feed a healthy snack right before bedtime. If your puppy wakes up at night for bathroom needs, offer him a small treat as reward before you bring him back to bed. As soon as he wakes up he should be given breakfast immediately after being brought outside. 

If he tends to vomit almost instantly after waking up, you'll want to have a snack ready to give to him even before going out.

5) You may consider free-feeding as a method of stopping a puppy from vomiting foam. This is the method of leaving out food all day and allowing the dog to eat whenever he wishes. This can be a fix however it can set up some bad habits and should only be done if there is no other choice. Before opting for this do try the treat-release toys or dispensers if you will be away.

The reason why this may not be a great idea is because the Chihuahua needs strong leadership in the household to prompt good behavior. Owners need to be seen as leaders in order to have commands obeyed; if not a Chihuahua will not listen and this can lead to all sorts of issues. 

One of the best ways of instilling proper hierarchy is for the dog to clearly know that his human provides the food. This is achieved by only placing down the bowl after the dog has obeyed the 'Sit' command. With free-feeding, this opportunity is lost.
The 2nd reason why a Chihuahua may throw up foam - while rare - are more serious medical conditions.

Gastritis - This is caused by inflammation of intestines or stomach. Other symptoms may be bloating, hiccups, lack of appetite, black stools and/or vomiting fresh (red) blood or dried (black specked) blood.

This is diagnosed with a complete physical checkup including bloodwork and may include ultrasounds or x-rays.

Treatment may involve prescribed medicine such as gastrointestinal protectants such as sucralfate and/or anti-vomiting medications such as metoclopramide.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease - While loose stools are the most common sign of this, some dogs also suffer from vomiting foam as well. There are many different forms of IBD caused by many different things including salmonella, campylobacter infections and chronic intestinal infections.

Treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis.
Bloat - This is not very common with the Chihuahua breed, though still should be mentioned as a possible cause. Bloat is a dangerous condition in which the stomach twists and rotates, which causes the contents of the stomach to become trapped. Vomiting up white foam is one of the typical signs of this sometimes fatal condition.
 
Other signs of this are a visibly bloated abdomen, anxiety, pacing, and/or inability to sit/lie or find a comfortable position.

This cannot be treated at home. This is an emergency situation. Once rushed to the vet, a tube will be inserted into the stomach via the mouth to release air and fluid.

Kennel Cough - Dogs with kennel cough will cough up white or yellow mucus which can be mistaken for vomiting up foam. There is usually a hacking noise, fever, discharge from the eyes or nose and weakness.
See Also: General Information: Chihuahua is vomiting
You may also be interested in:

How to care for a Chihuahua - Covering all of the basic care needs for this amazing toy breed dog. 
What to feed a Chihuahua - How much, how often and which foods are best for the Chi.
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