Why Is My Dog Drooling So Much?
Wondering why your dog drools so much? You've probably heard the old rule that "cats rule and dogs drool." While that's debatable, there may be some truth to it (although some cats drool, too). If you're going to live with a dog, you're likely going to have slobber. But how much salivation is normal for your pup? Here's what you need to know if you notice your dog drooling excessively.
Why Do Dogs Drool So Much?
All dogs drool to some degree. Saliva lubricates the mouth and helps move food down the esophagus into the stomach. It also aids in cooling dogs when they pant, and there's even evidence that dog saliva prevents cavities.
Some dogs naturally drool more than others; the shape of a dog's head and the way his lips meet his jowls play an important role. Some dog breeds have extra folds of skin around the muzzle so saliva and water can get trapped and drip out, explains Michelle Bombard, DVM, a veterinarian at the Malta Animal Hospital in Malta, N.Y.
Is Your Dog's Drooling Normal or Abnormal?
Excessive drooling is called ptyalism or hypersalivation, and it's not always a bad sign. The first step in knowing whether your dog's drooling is abnormal is simply knowing your pet, as the volume of "normal" slobber is different for every pup. Large breeds like Saint Bernards, mastiffs, bloodhounds, and Newfoundlands are known for being particularly slobbery.
However, drooling more than usual might be a sign of a health issue for any type of dog. "Look for a change from what is normal for that animal," Bombard says. "If you are cleaning up drool more frequently or you see a puddle when they get up from the floor or their bed, there may be a problem."
Bombard says that if your dog is showing signs of discomfort, particularly after eating something he shouldn't have, he should be seen by a vet sooner rather than later. "Also, pay attention to whether or not it is something acute that came on suddenly or has been chronic and increasing over time," she urges.
7 Causes of Excessive Drooling In Dogs
There are totally normal reasons for your pup to be a bit drooly. Harmless reasons for drooling in dogs, regardless of breed, include:
- Anticipation of food
- Response to interesting scents, especially those left by other animals
But if your dog is drooling more than usual, there might be something wrong. Here are some common causes of abnormal increased salivation.
1. There's Something in Your Dog's Mouth
Bombard had a client bring in a dog that was drooling all of a sudden, and it turns out the dog had eaten a pencil and it was stuck between his teeth in the bridge of his mouth. The same thing sometimes happens when dogs chew on sticks, twigs, or toys. If you suspect your dog ate something weird and possibly dangerous, it's best to call your vet ASAP for next steps and likely book an appointment to get your pup checked out.
2. Dental Health Issues
Dental diseases and mouth disorders such as tooth decay, gingivitis, or an abscessed tooth can cause pain, inflammation, and discharge in the mouth. These conditions often lead to excessive drooling in dogs. If there is bleeding in the mouth, the saliva may have a pink or red tinge.
3. Stress and Anxiety
If your dog suddenly hears the pop of fireworks, he might begin to drool more than usual. This is a common sign of stress or anxiety. If your dog is drooling due to stress, you may notice other subtle changes in his body language, such as lip licking, yawning, and averting the eyes. Find out what is causing your pup's stress and work toward alleviating the stressor to get the drooling back to a normal level.
4. Toxins and Poisoning
Excessive drooling can be a reaction to eating a toxic plant or household hazard, such as medications and household cleaners. To reduce the risk, keep these items locked up in inaccessible cabinets and don't leave them lying around the house after use where your curious canine might sniff them out. A bite or sting from a venomous insect or animal may also cause increased salivation in dogs.
5. GI Issues
Just like in people, gastrointestinal issues may cause nausea—and nausea causes increased salivation. It can be difficult to determine if your dog is simply eagerly awaiting food or has an upset stomach. Watch for signs of illness, such as lethargy, vomiting, and a poor appetite. Motion sickness, kidney disease, and liver disease sometimes cause nausea, too. Other GI conditions that may lead to excessive drooling include esophageal diseases like megaesophagus.
6. Heatstroke or Heat Exhaustion
Dogs pant to cool themselves, and overheated dogs tend to drool more while panting. Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heatstroke and can cause heavy panting accompanied by thick drool. Other signs include lethargy and bright red gums and tongue. The dog may collapse if the situation advances to heatstroke (if his body temperature is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit).
7. Other Conditions
There are a few other physical conditions that can cause excessive drooling in dogs:
- Neurological conditions, such as myasthenia gravis or facial nerve paralysis
- Immune mediated diseases, such as masticatory muscle myositis
- Injury to the jaw, face, or mouth
- Salivary gland issues, such as a sialocele
Treatments and Home Remedies for Excessive Dog Drooling
Bombard encourages pet parents to talk with their dog's veterinarian before starting home remedies beyond a drool rag or bandana.
"A lot of different things recommended by the pet store and seem benign have the potential to cause or mask other problems," she says. "You want to make sure that you don't miss dental disease. It is one of those things that develops kind of slowly and you might not see it."
If the drooling is getting really out of hand and you've ruled out any medical issues, changing your dog's diet and feeding routine can help limit the amount of drool cleanup. Though, you'll also want to discuss this with your vet before making major changes.
"Some foods trigger drooling more than others and just the anticipation of getting a treat they love can get the saliva flowing," she says. "Changing the food or treat routine might make a change in the pet."