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Why Do Dogs Drool?: Causes & How to Stop it

Why Do Dogs Drool?: Causes & How to Stop it

Having a dog means that you may occasionally (or often for some breeds) be faced with piles of slobber. But what is the cause of it? Today, our Westminster vets answer the question of 'Why do dogs drool?' and talk about when the drool might indicate a health concern.

Why is My Dog Drooling?

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.

Your dog's drool (saliva) contains amylase, an enzyme that starts the digestive process. The purpose of amylase is to break down the food as you are chewing in order to prepare it properly for digestion. Saliva also moistens the chewed food and aids in the formation of a bolus, which aids in swallowing. Generally, a mouth containing saliva will be more comfortable and allow your pet to better taste food.

By clearing food particles from the teeth, saliva reduces the formation of cavities and prevents tooth decay. Saliva is also antibacterial, meaning that it can reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth making the breath smell better.

Saliva is beneficial, but too much of it can be harmful. 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. leading to drooling.

What breeds of dogs are known for drooling?

While all dogs will likely drool at one point or another, certain dog breeds are known for drolling a ton! Saint 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?

If your dog is drooling, it may be caused by one of the following:

Smelling Food: Because your dog has over 200 million scent receptors, it can cause a strong reaction when he smells your food, his food, or even when you open the dog food bag. This can lead to drooling.

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: When dogs are excited or agitated, they drool. That's why they slobber all over you!

Signs that the Drooling is Caused By an Underlying Condition

While most of the time your dog's drool isn't anything really, it's just saliva. There may be other times, however, when the drool indicates your pet is experiencing a medical concern, such as one of the ones listed above. Here are some other signs that may accompany the drooling showing a potential issue:

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.

If you notice any of the above along with excessive drooling then it is likely time to bring your dog to their primary vet in Westminster.

How to Stop a Dog From Drooling

Visiting your vet for routine dental care such as cleaning, 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.

Because it can also just be the shape of your dog's mouth that allows for a steady stream of slobber, you may want to consider putting a bandana on them to catch your dog's drool.

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.

Are you concerned about your dog's excessive drooling? Contact our Westminster vets today to book an appointment.

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