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Why is my dog drooling?

Saint Bernard dog drooling advice

Saint Bernard dogs are known for being droolers

© Pixabay

Dogs do lots of cute things. They also do some not so cute things. Drooling is definitely not cute! Let's find out why they drool, and how to manage excessive drooling in dogs.

By Ashley Murphy

Published on the 06/01/2020, 14:22

Why is my dog drooling?

A certain amount of drooling is perfectly normal. In fact, it’s healthy - drooling helps dogs digest their food. Drooling could also be a side effect of panting, which is a perfectly natural way for dogs to cool down. But excessive drooling (otherwise known as hypersalivation) could be a sign of illness or stress.

Do some dogs drool more than others?

Yes, and it's related to the shape of their mouths. Some dog breeds like the Mastiff and St Bernard have thick, loose lips that struggle to control the flow of saliva and drool. The saliva then collects into the folds of their loose skin around the muzzle, and drops from the flews (pendulous upper lips) or is flung into the air when they shake! Other dogs with the same problem include Bloodhounds and Newfoundlands. There's nothing you can really do to stop it! Usually, dog owners who go for such a breed know what to expect and are always stocked up on tissues or paper towels! A drool rag or a dog bib to tie around the dog’s neck is also a great idea if you want to protect your floor and your dog’s shiny coat.

Excessive drooling in dogs

It's difficult to define excessive drooling. For example, some dogs drool a lot when they're hungry. Much like us, they’ll salivate at the sight or smell of their favourite treat! Others drool when they're excited or nervous. In cases like these, the drooling is directly related to a stimulus. Once that's removed, or satisfied, the drooling will usually stop.

So most of the time, drooling is not a cause for concern. However, you should pay more attention to it if drooling is unusual for your dog. For instance, if your dog was not much of a drooler before, and all of a sudden he begins to drool around the clock, there may be something amiss. So if you notice a big change in their drooling habits, or if they appear to be drooling for no obvious reason, then there's probably an underlying cause.

Excessive drooling can be related to any of the following:

1#Foreign objects

The first thing you should do is check your dog's mouth. If your dog is drooling excessively, it could be that something is blocking their mouth or throat and therefore preventing them from swallowing. If they have ingested a foreign body, you might see some traces of it in or around the mouth. Only remove these if you feel comfortable in doing so, or if you're sure it's safe. In all other instances, contact a local vet.

2#Dental problems

Without proper dental care, plaque and tartar can build up inside your dog's mouth. This can rub against the inside of their lips, causing them to drool more than usual. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to gingivitis, mouth ulcers, and even tumours, all of which can cause excessive drooling. So check your dog's teeth for any discolouration or damage. A dog's breath will never smell particularly nice, but dental problems can make it smell much worse.  Any dental issues will need the attention of a vet. In the meantime, focus on prevention. You should be brushing your dog's teeth at least three times a week, and preferably every day.

3#Infection

A salivating dog might have a throat or sinus infection. Other symptoms would include very bad breath, plus, a loss of appetite. Dogs are pretty sturdy creatures. Most infections will clear up after a few days. If not, take them to a vet. They'll normally prescribe a short course of antibiotics to kill off the infection.

More reasons for excessive drooling in dogs

4#Heat stroke

Dogs can't just take their coat off when it gets warm. Certain short-faced breeds, like the Pug, can also suffer from breathing difficulties due to their obstructed airways. Add in some very hot weather, and the dog is at risk of overheating. Excessive drooling is just one of many symptoms. Others include heavy panting, erratic pulse, vomiting, and even collapse. Heatstroke is serious. If your dog is showing any of these signs, get him out of the sun and into an air-conditioned room immediately. You can place your pet on a wet towel and apply tepid water onto his fur and skin. You should contact a vet in case your dog needs medical assistance.

5#Poisonous plants

Dogs will eat almost anything. They're natural scavengers who are always on the lookout for new food sources. Although this helped them survive in the wild for thousands of years, it’s also a bit risky. They never quite know what they are putting into their bodies, and certain plants and shrubs are poisonous to dogs. Common plants that are bad for your dog include tulips, azaleas, and chrysanthemums. Any dog who eats these is likely to start drooling very heavily, and could also get very sick! You must keep your pet away from these.

6#Liver or kidney disease 

Excessive salivation is also a sign of liver disease or kidney disease. Both can be extremely serious and heavy drooling won't be the only symptom. Other things to look out for include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and increased urination

Liver and kidney disease are treatable, but early diagnosis and treatment are super important. Take your dog to a vet if you notice any worrying symptoms.

7#Anxiety

Excess saliva in dogs may also be a sign that they're anxious. Luckily, it's fairly easy to manage. You just need to identify what's making your dog anxious. For instance, your dog may drool excessively when you leave the house. In this case, he might be suffering from separation anxiety. By identifying the problem, you can address it and alleviate the symptoms. Other examples of things which could cause anxiety in a dog include: a fear of loud noises, or a nervousness around new people. But remove or manage the trigger, and the excessive drooling will stop.

8#Nausea

Just like humans, dogs salivate when they are feeling nauseous. Nausea could be caused by a variety of problems, including a stomach upset or disease. Often, nausea occurs due to motion sickness in cars. To treat motion sickness, you will need to desensitize your dog to car journeys. To do this, start with very short car journeys and make them longer over time, as your pet grows in confidence. You should always try to associate a car trip with something positive, including bringing them to someplace fun (your dog won’t enjoy car trips as much if you’re driving him to the vet every single time). If the problem persists, consult a veterinarian, who may be able to prescribe anti-nausea medication for your pet.

For some dogs, excessive drooling is completely normal. Unfortunately, you'll just have to get used to it! For other dogs, a little bit of drooling is completely harmless and even necessary. But keep your eyes peeled for any significant changes in your dog’s behaviour. If they're drooling more than usual, or drooling for no apparent reason, then you'll need to identify an underlying cause. Look out for any associated symptoms; think about any recent changes in your dog’s routine or environment, and never be afraid to ask a vet for more advice.

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