It's not uncommon for dogs to drool, but what should you do if your furry friend constantly has slobber on their face? Our veterinarians at Los Angeles are here to provide insight on dog drooling and when it may be a cause for concern.
Why Dogs Drool
Dogs, like humans, have saliva that is made up of 98% water and other important compounds like enzymes and electrolytes. This helpful liquid is produced by glands near the jaw and is carried into the mouth through ducts.
Saliva is important for digestion as it contains amylase, an enzyme that helps break down food while chewing. Additionally, it helps to moisten food and form a bolus, which makes swallowing easier and enhances taste.
By removing food particles from teeth, saliva helps reduce the formation of cavities and prevents tooth decay. It also has antibacterial properties that help to eliminate germs in the mouth that can cause bad breath.
Although saliva is beneficial, too much of it can be problematic. When a dog produces excessive saliva, they may drool as it overflows from their mouth. This can lead to health issues if not managed properly. Overall, saliva is essential for good health, but excessive production should be monitored to prevent any possible health problems.
Dog Breeds Known for Drooling
It's typical for dogs to drool now and then, but certain breeds tend to drool more than others. St. Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, mastiffs, newfoundlands, and Bernese mountain dogs are some examples. However, if excessive drooling occurs in these breeds, it may not be normal. Therefore, it's important to monitor your dog's typical level of drooling.
Causes of Excessive Drooling
Dogs may drool due to various reasons. The most prevalent causes are:
Smelling Food: Because 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. Lumps or bumps in the mouth can also cause drooling. 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 an Underlying Condition Can cause Drooling
Excessive drooling can be a sign of an underlying issue. Look out for these additional symptoms that may accompany hypersalivation:
Decreased Appetite or a Change in Eating Routine: If chronic GI problems cause hypersalivation, 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.
Treating Excessive Drooling in Dogs
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.
If your dog slobbers due to the shape of their mouth, consider using a fashionable bandanna to catch the drool. Your dog's unique jaw structure adds to their charm, so this can be a helpful solution.
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.