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Drooling in Dogs: Why They Do It & What to Do

Drooling in Dogs: Why They Do It & What to Do

Dogs naturally drool, but what if your furry friend drools a lot? Today, our veterinarians in North Providence discuss dog drooling and when it might be a concern.

Why Dogs Drool

Just like humans, dogs have saliva in their mouths. Saliva is mostly water, but it also contains antibacterial compounds, enzymes, and electrolytes that are essential for good health. Glands near the jaw produce this watery substance and drains it into the mouth via ducts.

Saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, which kickstarts the digestion process. When dogs chew their food, amylase interacts with food and breaks it down. Saliva also moistens chewed food and helps form a ball-like clump, making swallowing easier. A wet mouth is more comfortable than a dry one and enhances the sense of taste.

By clearing food particles from the teeth, saliva reduces the formation of cavities and prevents tooth decay. Saliva's antibacterial properties help to reduce germs in the mouth that cause bad breath.

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. Overall, saliva is beneficial, but excessive production can cause health problems.

Dog Breeds Known for Drooling

It's normal for all dogs to drool from time to time, but certain breeds tend to drool more than others. This included breeds such as St. Bernards, Bulldogs, Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always typical, so it's a good idea to monitor your dog's usual drooling patterns. 

Causes of Excessive Drooling

There are many causes of drooling in dogs. Some of the most common include:

Smelling Food: Because your dog has over 200 million scent receptors, he has 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 nauseous, 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

Drooling, however, can also be a symptom of another underlying problem. Here are some other signs that might also come with 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

You can use different approaches to address various issues like dental care, upset stomach, or excessive drooling in dogs. For health concerns, consider dental cleaning, tooth removal, or given medication. If it's behavioral, try calming your dog before guests arrive or place them in a quiet area when entertaining. For drooling due to mouth shape, a stylish bandanna can help. 

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 North Providence vets today to book an appointment.

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