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Drooling in Dogs: Why They Do it & What to Do

While drooling isn't usually a concern, excessive drooling in dogs may be a symptom of an underlying health condition. In this post, our Dallas vets discuss what causes drooling in dogs, what you can do about it and when it might be a concern.

Why is my dog drooling?

Dogs' mouths contain watery saliva, which contains germ-fighting chemicals, digestive helpers, and minerals. Saliva is made in glands near the jaw and enters the mouth through ducts.

Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that starts digestion by breaking down food while chewing. It moistens food, helps form a bolus (small round mass) for easier swallowing, and enhances its taste. Saliva also helps clean teeth, reducing cavities and tooth decay. Its antibacterial properties also fight off bad breath. Although saliva has many health benefits, too much can result from a health issue.

What dog breeds drool the most?

All dogs drool now and then, but some breeds drool more often than others. St. Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Bernese mountain dogs are known for their more frequent drooling.

If you notice your dog drooling excessively, it might not be typical, so it's a good idea to note your dog's usual level of drooling. This will help you distinguish between normal and excessive drooling, and see your vet if you notice unusual changes.

So, why do dogs drool?

If you're wondering what causes drooling in dogs, there are various reasons. Some common instances in which a dog may drool include:

Smelling Food: Because your dog has over 200 million scent receptors, he has 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 nauseous, 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.

Dental Problems: Even though saliva protects teeth, dogs can develop dental problems. Tartar accumulation traps bacteria and causes gingivitis and periodontitis. Inflamed or infected gums 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 or Growths: Excessive drooling can be caused by abrasions from chewing hard objects, ulcers, cuts, and burns. Lumps or bumps in the mouth can also cause drooling. These growths could be harmless warts or cancerous tumors. Even innocuous growths can cause drooling.

Excitement: When dogs are excited, they may drool all over you!

Symptoms That May Accompany Drooling

Drooling can be a symptom of another underlying problem, so excessive drooling should not be ignored. Here are some other signs that might also come with hypersalivation:

Decreased Appetite or a Change in Eating Routine: If chronic GI problems cause hypersalivation, 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 that love dry kibble may hesitate to eat when their mouths are sore. They may hold their heads at an odd angle to position the food on the less painful side and drop food from their mouths. They often eat better when served soft, moistened food.

Changing Behavior: When a dog is in pain, even the sweetest dogs can become aggressive. When other dogs are in pain, they become reclusive and withdrawn.

Pawing at the Face: Some dogs with oral pain rub their muzzles with their paws or on the floor to relieve the pain. When swallowing food or water, drooling dogs with esophageal or stomach problems may gulp or extend their necks.

How to Stop a Dog From Drooling

There are some instances in which you can remedy your dog's drooling. Ensuring your dog stays hydrated can help reduce your dog's drooling.

Caring for your dog's teeth thoroughly can also help prevent drooling, and professional teeth cleanings and exams can help detect any issues your dog may have in their mouth.

If your dog naturally drools a lot without having a health issue, try using a stylish bandanna to catch the drool. It adds character to your pup!

When should you bring your dog to the vet for drooling?

You should contact your vet if your dog's drooling becomes excessive or persistent or if it is accompanied by other signs of distress, such as difficulty eating, changes in behavior, or signs of pain like whining or changes in sleeping habits.

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.

Has your dog's excessive drooling become a concern? Contact our Dallas vets to schedule an examination.

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