Logo for print

DrBarchas logo

Drooling or Foaming at the Mouth in Cats and Dogs

Foaming at the mouth and drooling have similar causes.  Most cases of foaming or frothing at the mouth simply involve drooling combined with panting (cats, dogs) or rapid breathing.  Drooling is also known as hypersalivation.

Common Causes

More common causes are listed first.  Less common causes are listed later.

  • Nausea, such as that caused by carsickness or gastrointestinal upset, is a frequent cause of drooling or foaming at the mouth.
  • Anxiety may cause hypersalivation.  Since anxiety often causes rapid breathing as well, anxiety is a very frequent cause of foaming at the mouth.
  • Exposure to foul-tasting substances may cause drooling or foaming at the mouth. This is common in cats that have recently received oral medications.
  • Dental disease, oral trauma, tooth abscesses, stomatitis, or tumors in the mouth may cause drooling, often in combination with halitosis or a malodorous hair coat.
  • Metabolic disorders such as liver disease or kidney disease may cause drooling.
  • Animals who have difficulty swallowing will appear to hypersalivate or foam at the mouth.
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth can be a sign of poisoning.
  • Hypersalivation is a side effect of some medications.
  • Infection with rabies virus is perhaps the most famous cause of drooling or foaming at the mouth in cats and dogs.  Rabies is rare in animals that have been vaccinated.

Recommended Course of Action

If persistent hypersalivation or foaming at the mouth occurs and no clear cause can be found, seek veterinary attention.

Although it is rare, remember that rabies virus can be spread to human beings, with potentially fatal consequences.

When in doubt, the safest course of action is to seek veterinary attention.

Copyright © Eric Barchas, DVM All rights reserved.
The contents of this page are provided for general informational purposes only. Under no circumstances should this page be substituted for professional consultation with a veterinarian.