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

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

Many dogs drool naturally, but what should you do if your pet is constantly slobbering? Our veterinarians at Franklin will discuss drooling in dogs today and when it may be a cause for concern.

Why Dogs Drool

Dogs, like humans, generate saliva that is 98% water. However, it also contains essential compounds such as enzymes, electrolytes, and antibacterial agents, contributing to good health. Glands near the jaw produce saliva and flows into the mouth through ducts.

One of the enzymes present in saliva is amylase, which initiates the digestive process. This enzyme works alongside the food when chewing, breaking it down. Saliva also moistens the chewed food and forms a bolus, making swallowing more straightforward. A moist mouth is more comfortable and enhances the taste.

By removing food particles from the teeth, saliva reduces the formation of cavities and prevents tooth decay. Its antibacterial properties eliminate germs that cause bad breath. Nonetheless, excessive saliva can be harmful as it fills the dog's mouth and causes drooling. It can also lead to health problems. While beneficial, saliva's excessiveness should be monitored.

Dog Breeds Known for Drooling

It's common for dogs to drool from time to time, but certain breeds tend to drool more than others. These include St. Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Bernese mountain dogs. However, if your dog is drooling excessively, it may not be normal, so it's important to monitor their drooling to determine their typical level.

Causes of Excessive Drooling

Drooling in dogs can be caused by several factors, with some of the most frequent being:

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. 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 or agitated, they drool. That's why they slobber all over you!

When Drooling Can Be Caused By an Underlying Condition

Excessive drooling may indicate an underlying issue. Look out for these additional symptoms that may accompany 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 in an attempt to position the food on the less painful side and may 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 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 your dog drools excessively due to its mouth shape, you can try placing a stylish bandanna around its neck to catch the drool. After all, your dog's flapping jaws are what make it unique, 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.

Are you concerned about your dog's excessive drooling? Contact our Franklin vets today to book an appointment.

New Patients Always Welcome

Pet Vet Battlewood is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Franklin's companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (615) 794-3838