Why is my dog drooling?

Why is my dog drooling?

Drooling is a normal part of life for some breeds of dog, but what do you do if there's a lot of slobber on your pet's face? Is it cause for concern? Today, our Sharpsburg vets discuss what causes drooling in dogs and when you should be concerned.

Why do dogs drool?

Dogs, like humans, make saliva. Saliva is 98% water, but it also contains antibacterial compounds, enzymes, and electrolytes essential for good health. Several glands close to the jaw produce this enzyme-rich juice, which then drains into the mouth through ducts.

Amylase, an enzyme that initiates digestion, is found in saliva. Amylase interacts with food while chewing and breaks it down. Saliva also moistens chewed food and aids in the formation of a bolus—a small rounded mass of a substance—which aids in swallowing. 

A moist mouth is also more comfortable than a dry mouth, and it improves the taste of food.

Saliva prevents tooth decay and cavities by clearing food particles from the teeth. Saliva's antibacterial properties help to reduce germs in the mouth that cause bad breath.

Saliva is useful, but too much of it can be harmful. Excess saliva fills the dog's mouth and runs over the brim, causing them to drool. When the dog produces a lot of saliva, he doesn't swallow it all. Overall, saliva is beneficial, but excessive production can lead to health problems.

What are some breeds that drool?

Drooling is normal for all dogs, but some breeds drool more than others. Among them are St. Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Bernese mountain dogs. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always normal though, so keep track of your dog's normal drooling level.

What causes drooling in dogs?

There are numerous causes of drooling in dogs. Among the most common are:

Smelling Food: Because your dog has over 200 million scent receptors, he will have a stronger reaction when he smells your food, his food, or even when you open the dog food bag.

Nausea: This includes gastrointestinal (GI) issues, vestibular (balance) issues, and motion sickness. When a dog is sick, his salivary glands overwork, and he drools.

Physical Formation: Because the anatomy of their mouths allows liquid to dribble out, some dogs' saliva production appears to be excessive. The saggy lips and drooping jowls of giant breeds do not effectively hold in saliva. Bloodhounds, mastiffs, St. Bernards, and Newfoundlanders are among these breeds.

Dental Issues: Although saliva protects the teeth, dogs can develop dental issues. Tartar buildup traps bacteria, causing gingivitis and periodontitis. Inflamed or infected gums cause pain, and teeth become loose in their sockets as bony tissue deteriorates. Teeth can fall out or fracture, causing discomfort. All of these dental problems result in excessive salivation.

Injuries and/or Growths: Abrasions from chewing hard objects, ulcers, cuts, and burns can all cause excessive drooling. Lumps or bumps in the mouth can also cause drooling. These growths could be benign warts or malignant tumors. Even innocuous growths can cause drooling.

Excitement: Drooling occurs when dogs are excited. That is why they slobber on you!

When is drooling a sign of an underlying problem?

Drooling, however, can also be a symptom of an underlying problem. Here are some other symptoms that may accompany hypersalivation:

Reduced Appetite or a Change in Eating Routine: If chronic GI problems are the cause of hypersalivation, the dog may gradually lose appetite. If the cause is nausea, drooling may be temporary and will stop when the upset stomach resolves. When a dog's mouth is sore, he or she may be hesitant to eat. They may hold their heads at an unusual angle in an attempt to position the food on the less painful side of their mouths. They may also drop food from their mouths. 

Changing Behaviour: Even the sweetest of dogs can become aggressive when they are in pain. When dogs are in pain, they withdraw and become reclusive.

Pawing at the Face: Some dogs with oral pain will try to relieve the pain by rubbing their muzzles with their paws or on the floor. Drooling dogs with esophageal or stomach problems may gulp or extend their necks when swallowing food or water.

How to Stop a Dog From Drooling

Cleaning teeth, extracting teeth, treating GI problems, avoiding irritants, healing injuries, or giving your dog nausea medication before a trip may be used to treat the underlying cause. If the issue is behavioral, try calming your dog before allowing guests into the house, or place the dog in a quiet area while you entertain visitors. When cooking dinner, keep a towel nearby to mop up the drool.

If it's due to their mouth shape, try tying a trendy bandanna around your dog's neck to catch the slobber. After all, those flapping jaws give your dog personality, 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.

Are you concerned about how much your dog is drooling? Contact our Sharpsburg vets today to book an appointment for your dog.