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

Drooling is a normal, if unfortunately, part of life for some dogs. That said, many pet parents wonder what to do if their pet constantly seems to be slobbering. In this post, our Leighton vets discuss drooling in dogs, common causes, and when to seek veterinary care.

Why do dogs drool?

Similar to their human counterparts, dogs produce saliva. Though saliva is 98% water, it also contains antibacterial enzymes, electrolytes and compounds that are fundamental to good health. The glands near the jaw produce this enzyme-rich juice, which then drains into the mouth through ducts. 

Saliva contains amylase, which kicks off the digestive process. When your dog chews food, the amylase interacts with whatever your pup has eaten and breaks it down. Saliva also moistens the food that's been chewed and aids in the formation of bolus (a ball-like mixture of food and saliva that helps your dog swallow). A moist mouth is more comfortable than a dry mouth and improves the taste of food. 

By removing food particles from teeth, saliva helps keep cavities from forming and prevents tooth decay. The antibacterial properties in salvia help to reduce germs in the mouth that cause bad breath. 

Though saliva benefits your dog's health in many ways, too much of it can be harmful. When a dog's mouth fills with excess saliva, he does not swallow it all - it runs over the brim and becomes drool. 

Dog Breeds Known for Drooling

While all dogs may drool occasionally, Bernese mountain dogs, Bloodhounds, bulldogs, Mastiffs, and Newfoundlanders are among the breeds known to drool more than others. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always normal, so it's a good idea to monitor your dog's normal level of drooling. 

What causes drooling in dogs? 

We've had many a worried pet parent call us to ask, "Why is my dog drooling?". Some of the most common causes of drooling in dogs include: 

Dental Problems - While saliva plays a role in preventing cavities, dogs can still develop dental problems. Accumulation of tartar traps bacteria, leading to gingivitis and periodontitis. Inflamed or infected gums become sore, and teeth loosen in their sockets as bony tissue deteriorates. Teeth may fall out or break, causing pain. Each of these dental issues can cause excessive salivation. 

Smelling Food - Did you know your dog has more than 200 million scent receptors? This means he has a stronger reaction when he smells food, whether it's your or his. Even opening the dog food bag can cause more drooling than is normal.

Nausea - Gastrointestinal (GI) issues, balance (vestibular) issues and motion sickness can all lead to nausea. When a dog is feeling nauseated, his salivary glands go into overdrive, resulting in drool. 

Physical Formation - The anatomy of a dog's mouth allows liquid to dribble out, which may make some dogs' saliva production appear excessive. Giant breeds such as Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, Newfoundlanders and St. Bernards are known for their saggy lips and drooping jowls, which do not effectively hold in saliva and allow it to drain. 

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 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.

How to Stop a Dog From Drooling

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 people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Are you concerned about your dog's excessive drooling? Contact our Leighton vets  to book an appointment for an exam.

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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