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

It is common for dogs to drool and there isn't often cause for concern, but excessive drooling may actually be a symptom of an underlying health condition. In this post, our McAllen vets discuss excessive drooling in dogs and what you can do to stop it.

Why is my dog drooling?

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

Saliva has amylase, an enzyme that starts the digestion process by breaking down food while chewing. It moistens food, helps form a bolus for easier swallowing, and enhances the taste. Saliva also helps in cleaning teeth, reducing cavities and tooth decay. The antibacterial properties in saliva also work to fight off bad breath.

Although saliva has many health benefits, too much of it can be the result of a health issue.

Dog Breeds Known for Drooling

All dogs will drool now and then, but some breeds will drool more often than others. Breeds like St. Bernards, Bulldogs, Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for drooling in higher amounts than other dog breeds.

If you notice your dog drooling excessively, it might not be typical for them, so it's a good idea to take note of your dog's typical level of drooling. By doing this, you can distinguish the difference between normal drooling and excessive drooling, and see your vet if you notice unusual changes.

Why do dogs drool?

If you're wondering what causes drooling in dogs, there are a variety of 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. 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!

Underlying Conditions That Can Cause 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 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 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. Making sure your dog stays hydrated and receives an appropriate amount of exercise 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!

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 drooling recently gotten out of control? Contact our McAllen vets to book an appointment for your pup.

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