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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 of us consider slobber to be a normal part of life when you own a dog, but not many of us know why. Today, our Gillette vets share some information about drooling in dogs, why it happens and when it might be of concern.

What is the reason behind drooling in dogs?

Saliva is an important part of oral health and digestion for dogs. 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,= which is an enzyme that helps to break down food when it's time to digest. Saliva also moistens the chewed food and aids in the formation of a bolus, which aids in swallowing. Chewing food is just generally more comfortable when there is saliva in the mouth and this saliva will also make the food taste better.

Saliva is also useful for keeping the teeth clear of debris and food which results in better protection against cavities. Saliva's antibacterial properties help to reduce germs in the mouth that cause bad breath.

While saliva is important to oral health, it can also cause issues if there is too much. Excess saliva fills the dog's mouth, runs over the brim, and he drools. When the dog produces excessive saliva, he does not swallow it all. Overall, saliva is beneficial, but excessive production can cause health problems.

What breeds of dog drool more than others?

Not all breeds are created equal when it comes to the amount of slobber produced. 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 are some reasons for the drooling?

While there can be a large number of causes behind excessive drooling in dogs, some of the typical reasons we see include:

Smelling Food: 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. 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: As a dog becomes more excitable their saliva production increases. The end result is usually you being covered in drool!

When should you be concerned about the amount of drooling?

Along with the common reasons behind drooling listed above, there are also other concerns that can cause your dog to drool far more than usual:

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.

What can you do to help your dog if the drool is caused by an issue?

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.

Some dogs just have a face that is built to dump drool. Sometimes it can help to tie a bandana around their neck in order to catch some of the slobber!

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.

Is your dog drooling more than they normally do? Contact our Gillette vets today to book an appointment for your dog.

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