We all know that dogs drool, some more than others. But when is this drooling unusual and what causes it? Today, our Rancho Cucamonga vets discuss drooling in dogs, which breeds drool more and how to tell when the drooling is caused by a health concern.
Why is my Dog Drooling?
Just like humans and other animals, dogs produce saliva. Saliva is 98% water, but it also contains antibacterial compounds, enzymes, and electrolytes that are essential for good health. Saliva is produced in glands located within the mouth.
So why do dogs drool? Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that starts the digestive process. Amylase interacts with food during chewing and breaks it down. Saliva also moistens the chewed food and aids in the formation of a bolus, which aids in swallowing. Not only does saliva help to make food taste better but it also makes swallowing and chewing much easier.
Saliva is also helpful for cleaning away food that may stick to the teeth. This can help to reduce the risk of dental concerns. 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.
Breeds of Dogs That Drool More
While all dogs drool to some extent, some dogs are known to produce an excessive amount of drool. St Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlers, and Bernese mountain dogs are among them. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always normal, so it's a good idea to keep track of your dog's normal level of drooling.
So what causes drooling in dogs anyway?
While there can be a number of different reasons for drooling in dogs, some of the most common ones include:
The Scent of 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 or Stomach Issues: 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.
The Formation of the Mouth: 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 Conditions: 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. Drooling can also be caused by lumps or bumps in the mouth. These growths could be harmless warts or cancerous tumors. Even innocuous growths can cause drooling.
General Excitement: Many dogs begin to produce excess drool as they become excited. You can expect a wet greeting when you get home from work.
Can drooling indicate that a dog has a health concern?
While normal drooling is no cause for concern, it can be a sign of other issues when there are other symptoms that appear with it such as:
Changes in Eating Habits: 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.
Behavioral Concerns or Changes: 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 rub their muzzles with their paws or on the floor to relieve the pain. When swallowing food or water, drooling dogs with esophageal or stomach problems may gulp or extend their necks.
What can you do to stop a dog from drooling?
In order to help stop excessive drooling you will need to address the underlying issue. 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. If your dog tends to go overboard with drooling while you are cooking then it might be beneficial to keep a towel or mop on hand for cleanup.
If it's due to their mouth shape, try tying a trendy bandanna around your dog's neck to catch the slobber. After all, all those flapping jaws give your dog character, 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.