For some breeds drooling is a normal part of life, but are there times when you should be concerned about your dog's drooling? Our Waxhaw veterinarians are here to answer that question and more about drooling in dogs.
Why do dogs drool?
Like humans, dogs produce saliva. Saliva is 98% water, but it also contains antibacterial compounds, enzymes, and electrolytes that are essential for good health. This enzyme-rich juice is produced by glands near the jaw and drains into the mouth via ducts.
Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that starts the digestive process. Amylase interacts with food during chewing and breaks it down. Saliva also moistens the chewed food and aids in the formation of a bolus, which aids in swallowing. A moist mouth is more comfortable than a dry mouth and improves taste.
By clearing food particles from the teeth, saliva reduces the formation of cavities and prevents tooth decay. Saliva's antibacterial properties help to reduce germs in the mouth that cause bad breath.
Saliva is beneficial, but too much of it can be harmful. Excess saliva fills the dog's mouth, runs over the brim, and the drooling begins. When a dog produces excessive saliva, they are unlikely to swallow it all. Overall, saliva is beneficial, but excessive production can cause health problems.
What are some breeds that drool?
It is normal for all dogs to drool occasionally, but some breeds drool more than others. St Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlers, and Bernese mountain dogs are among them. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always normal, so it's a good idea to keep track of your dog's normal level of drooling.
What causes drooling in dogs?
There are many causes of drooling in dogs. Some of the most common include:
Smelling Food: Because your dog has over 200 million scent receptors a stronger reaction when they smell your food, their 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, their salivary glands go into overdrive and they will begin drooling.
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. 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 is drooling a sign of an underlying problem?
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.
Is there a way to stop a dog from drooling?
Wondering how to stop your dog from drooling? There are many different approaches depending on the cause of your dog's drooling, including teeth cleaning or extractions, treating any existing GI problems, avoiding irritants, healing injuries, and giving nausea medication before traveling. 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.