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Excessive Drooling in Dogs

Picture of a dog drooling

All dogs drool to one extent or the other, but sometimes, the quantity of drool can be downright worrying. Should you take your canine friend to the vet or wait and see what’s happening? 

In this article, we’re looking at what breeds are more prone to drool a lot, the pathological causes of excessive drooling, how it is diagnosed, and how it can be treated.

Are there dog breeds that drool more?

The short answer to this question is yes. Breeds such as the Newfoundland, the Saint Bernard, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Bull Mastiff, or the Bloodhound are essentially equipped with looser upper lips. This means that they physiologically drool more compared to other dogs. 

While it might be a nuisance for some dog owners, you should keep a bib or towel nearby to handle the issue. 

What is ptyalism?

Ptyalism is just a medical name for excessive drooling. Besides the dog breeds that we have mentioned, in which case the phenomenon is completely normal, ptyalism can be caused by pathological causes. 

Excessive drooling can be the result of the dog’s inability to swallow the saliva that’s being produced in normal amounts, or it can be the result of the dog producing more saliva than normal. 

If your canine companion hasn’t had this problem before and you see other symptoms besides the drooling, you should seek out veterinary assistance. Some clinical signs that can be associated with ptyalism are the following:

  • Anxious behavior
  • Mouth or lip inflammation
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs of illness

Causes of excessive drooling in dogs

Let’s start with the ones that shouldn’t worry you that much and that you can fix by yourself at home. 

Some dogs can love food so much that they can express an unusual amount of saliva whenever they smell it, hear it being handled, or even when they hear a sound or see an item that they associate with food. Other dogs will drool too much when they’re in a car or in a boat, while others, especially those that suffer from chronic anxiety, can do it in an attempt to soothe themselves or as a result of an emotional shock. 

Let’s now move on to the pathological problems that can lead to excessive drooling. 

  • Dental problems

Dogs can have a variety of dental issues, and they range from periodontal disease to gingivitis, mouth ulcers, and many more. Usually, you’ll also notice bad breath and a weird color of the gums, but sometimes they can be swollen or even bleeding. 

Dental health problems can severely impact a dog’s life, making him or her unable to feed. Moreover, tooth decay has been linked with bad cardiovascular health, so it can affect your dog’s health on the whole. 

  • Foreign bodies

Various items can get lodged into your dog’s throat, but they can do the same right at the back of your dog’s mouth. If this happens, your dog might not choke, but since he or she is not going to be able to swallow, the saliva will be expelled from the mouth almost uncontrollably.

Foreign bodies can be removed with tweezers and other tools or in some cases, the dog might have to undergo surgery for the procedure to be performed safely. 

Any neoplasms in the mouth or the first portion of the digestive system can result in excessive drooling. Cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, so talk to your vet about what therapy options are available if your dog is diagnosed with such a tumor. 

  • Ingestion of toxins

Toads, houseplants, but also some chemical substances that you might use in your home for cleaning purposes can all cause excessive drooling. Since it’s difficult to tell which one of these your pooch might have been exposed to, it’s a good idea to go to the vet clinic right away. 

Look for additional symptoms such as troubled breathing, strange gum colors (sometimes blue), an anxious look on the dog’s face, and lethargy.

  • Local trauma

If there is an injury in Fido’s mouth, whether it’s ulceration, a burn, or a cut, your dog will drool more than usual. It’s a self-defense mechanism and a result of the local pain. 

All dogs that are left out in the sun, in a car, or anywhere without access to clean and cold water when it’s hot outside can suffer from heat stroke. However, some breeds are more prone to developing it, such as boxers, pugs, and bulldogs, all of which are short-nosed and have a harder time regulating their body temperature through breathing. 

Even if they don’t have heat stroke and they just feel too hot, dogs will drool more than usual to try to cool themselves down. 

Although rabies is a more and more uncommon disease in North America, Europe, and other parts of the world, since pet parents now vaccinate their dogs against it, it can still show up in some areas. A dog with rabies will drool because he/she will be unable to swallow the saliva.  

Distemper is another infectious disease that dogs can get, especially if they haven’t been vaccinated against it. It can also lead to excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth. 

When should you go to the vet?

It can be challenging to tell whether there’s something actually wrong with your canine friend, and you have to get to the vet clinic as soon as possible or if the issue will resolve on its own. Go to the vet right away if you notice:

  • Reluctance of being touched anywhere near the mouth
  • Coughing and gagging
  • Bad breath, gum color changes, gum bleeding
  • Difficult breathing and the dog looks alarmed

Diagnosis and treatment

Since drooling is a symptom, not a disease, your veterinarian will recommend a series of tests in order to find out just what exactly is at the root of the problem. These may range from a complete blood count and serum biochemistry to a clinical examination performed under mild sedation. 

An X-ray might be necessary for instances where the vet suspects the presence of a foreign body, and an ultrasound will be recommended if the cause of the drooling is inside the dog’s abdomen. 

Treatments can range from dislodging a foreign body that’s stuck in the dog’s pharynx, for example, to surgery for removing a tumor present in the dog’s mouth. 

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