Excessive Drooling in Dogs

Irish Setter profile with drool.

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Drooling occurs when too much saliva builds up in your dog's mouth and it runs out between the lips. There are several reasons why a dog may suddenly begin to drool, and for some breeds, it's simply a normal part of life. But for dogs that don't normally drool much, there may be a good reason why it has worsened. Excessive drooling may be a result of an underlying problem, so it's important to not only clean up the mess it makes, but to address the root cause as well.

Causes of Excessive Drooling in Dogs

A variety of reasons can cause a dog that doesn't normally drool to begin profusely salivating. These reasons for hypersalivation may be temporary and unconcerning, or indication that your dog needs veterinary care:

  • Hunger: If your dog sees food, hears food, smells food, or even associates an item with food, it may begin to drool profusely. This is not concerning and requires no medical attention. It will stop once your dog stops anticipating a snack.
  • Nausea: If your dog has an upset stomach it may begin to drool excessively. This could be from car sickness, something it ate, vestibular problems, or other problems that cause gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Dental Problems: Gingivitis, abscessed teeth, broken teeth, and other dental problems can cause oral pain and drooling. These issues require veterinary attention and often oral surgery to be resolved.
  • Tumors: Growths in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach may result in excessive drooling. Surgery will be necessary to remove them if they are operable.
  • Foreign Bodies: If a dog eats something it shouldn't eat and it causes an obstruction, this is referred to as having "a foreign body." The foreign body may cause drooling because of the dog's inability to properly move things through the digestive tract, due to a blockage or intussusception. Surgery or endoscopy is often needed to remove the foreign body if your dog is unable to naturally eliminate it.
  • Toxins: Some toxins—such as those found in certain houseplants, and both in and on toads—can cause a dog to hypersalivate if they lick or eat them.
  • Trauma: If your dog has an injury in its mouth, such as a burn from chewing on an electrical cord or an ulceration from a caustic chemical, excessive drooling may occur due to pain.

Treatment of Excessive Drooling in Dogs

Depending on the root cause of the excessive drooling, you may not have to do anything for the drooling to stop. But if the drooling is due to a medical concern, you'll need to correct the issue for the salivation to cease. Medications to decrease nausea, treat pain, and absorb toxic chemicals may be necessary to treat the drooling. In other cases, surgery to remove a foreign body, tumor, or diseased tooth may be required before the drooling will stop.

How to Prevent Excessive Drooling in Dogs

Saliva serves a purpose in normal swallowing, mouth lubrication, dental health, and digestion, so you won't want to eliminate it altogether, but you can do a few things to prevent problems that result in excessive drooling. By providing proper at-home dental care, you can help keep your dog's teeth healthy and avoid drooling issues that may occur due to dental disease. By being vigilant about picking up items that could potentially cause a foreign body if your dog eats it, and keeping all toxic houseplants and rodenticides out of reach of your dog, you may be able to avoid medical issues that result in drooling. Finally, by ensuring your dog can't chew on any cords or cables, you may avoid serious oral burns that can cause excessive drooling.

While it's not a preventative tool, a bandanna can help manage dogs whose breeds are prone to excessive drooling. It can be worn around the neck and acts as a bib to help catch some of that extra slobber.

What Dog Breeds Normally Excessively Drool?

Saint Bernards, Dogues de Bordeaux, bloodhounds, bulldogs, Newfoundlands, Neopolitan mastiffs, Bernese mountain dogs, bull mastiffs, boxers, and Great Danes are known to drool excessively, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have an underlying health issue. These and some other breeds with large jowls tend to drool more than other breeds, due to being unable to hold the saliva in, so you'll simply have to be prepared to wipe away the excess on a regular basis.

Article Sources
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  1. Disorders of the Mouth in Dogs. Merck Veterinary Manual.