Drooling is very common in dogs, but this doesn't mean it's normal if it is excessive. Here, our Pflugerville veterinarians discuss why dogs drool and what you can do about it.
Why Dogs Drool
Saliva is mostly water (98%) but also contains important substances like antibacterial compounds, enzymes, and electrolytes that are necessary for good health. It is produced by glands near the jaw and flows into the mouth through ducts.
Saliva plays a role in maintaining oral health by removing food particles from the teeth, thus reducing the risk of cavities and preventing tooth decay. Its antibacterial properties also help combat the germs in the mouth that cause bad breath.
While saliva is beneficial, excessive production can be problematic. When a dog produces too much saliva, it fills their mouth, overflows, and leads to drooling. The excess saliva may not be swallowed properly by the dog. Generally, saliva is beneficial, but excessive production can result in health issues.
Dog Breeds Known for Drooling
It is normal for all dogs to drool occasionally, but some breeds drool more than others. St Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlers, and Bernese mountain dogs are among them. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always normal, so it's a good idea to keep track of your dog's normal level of drooling.
Causes of Excessive Drooling
There are many causes of drooling in dogs. Some of the most common include:
Smelling Food: Because your dog has over 200 million scent receptors a stronger reaction when he smells your food, his food, or even when you open the dog food bag.
Nausea: These include gastrointestinal (GI) issues, vestibular (balance) issues and motion sickness. When a dog is nauseated, his salivary glands go into overdrive and he drools.
Physical Formation: Because the anatomy of their mouths allows the liquid to dribble out, some dogs' saliva production appears excessive. Giant breeds are known for their saggy lips and drooping jowls, which do not effectively hold saliva in and allow it to drain. Drooling breeds include the Bloodhound, Mastiff, St. Bernard, and Newfoundlanders.
Dental Problems: Even though saliva protects the teeth, dogs can develop dental problems. Tartar accumulation traps bacteria and causes gingivitis and periodontitis. Gums that are inflamed or infected become sore, and teeth become loose in their sockets as bony tissue deteriorates. Teeth may fall out or fracture, causing pain. All of these dental issues cause excessive salivation.
Injuries and/or Growths: Excessive drooling can be caused by abrasions from chewing hard objects, ulcers, cuts, and burns. Drooling can also be caused by lumps or bumps in the mouth. These growths could be harmless warts or cancerous tumors. Even innocuous growths can cause drooling.
Excitement: When dogs are excited or agitated, they drool. That's why they slobber all over you!
When Drooling Can Be Caused By an Underlying Condition
Drooling, however, can also be a symptom of another, underlying problem. Here are some other signs that might also come with hypersalivation:
Decreased Appetite or a Change in Eating Routine: If hypersalivation is caused by chronic GI problems, the dog may lose appetite gradually. Drooling may be temporary if the cause is nausea, and will stop when the upset stomach resolves. Drooling caused by a mouth injury, growth, or foreign body will continue until the physical condition heals or the offending item/growth is removed.
Dogs who enjoy dry kibble might show reluctance to eat when they have mouth discomfort. They may tilt their heads in an unusual manner to find a less painful side for positioning the food and might accidentally drop food from their mouths. They tend to have a better appetite when given soft, moistened food.
Changing Behavior: When a dog is in pain, even the sweetest of dogs can become aggressive. When other dogs are in pain, they become reclusive and withdrawn.
Pawing at the Face: Some dogs with oral pain will rub their muzzles with their paws or on the floor to try to relieve the pain. When swallowing food or water, drooling dogs with esophageal or stomach problems may gulp or extend their necks.
Treating Excessive Drooling in Dogs
Cleaning teeth, extracting teeth, treating GI problems, avoiding irritants, healing injuries, or giving nausea medication before a trip may be used to treat the underlying cause. If the problem is behavioral, try calming your dog before allowing guests into the house, or place the dog in a quiet area while you entertain visitors. Prepare for drooling when cooking dinner by keeping a towel nearby to mop up the deluge.
If it's due to their mouth shape, try tying a trendy bandanna around your dog's neck to catch the slobber. After all, all those flapping jaws give your dog character, right?
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.