Dog drooling is normal and an expected part of pet ownership. There’s nothing better than a big slobbery kiss from your canine friend. Some breeds naturally drool more than others. Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, English Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs, English Bulldogs, and other breeds with prominent jowls are the first ones that come to mind as an example. How much drool is normal? Owners often wonder if their dog is drooling a lot or if it is nothing to worry about.
A bit of slobber is expected. However, if your dog suddenly starts drooling excessively or does it more than usual, this needs investigation. Your next call should be to your veterinarian to schedule a check-up. They will perform a full exam and be able to advise on how to investigate further if needed.
Dog owners often ask, “Why is my dog drooling so much all of a sudden?” Are there some common reasons this might be happening that owners should worry about? It is important to know when a dog is drooling excessively and when it is time to call the vet. Here are ten common reasons why dogs drool and what to do about it.
Why would a dog suddenly start drooling? When should owners worry about drooling? When should I call the vet? These are all common questions owners have about dogs drooling a lot or sudden excessive drooling in dogs. Because dogs drool, and many drool a lot normally, this is a tricky area for pet parents. The reasons dogs drool excessively include hunger, excitement, dental issues, and a few different medical conditions like heat stroke, injury, or ingesting toxins.
Hunger And Excitement
There are some harmless causes of occasional drooling in dogs, such as hunger and even excitement. Some breeds drool more than others because of the formation of their lips. The lips tend to droop and don’t hold their saliva inside the mouth effectively. However, even in dogs who usually drool a lot, you should always investigate an increase in drooling.
Dental problems are common in middle-aged to older dogs but can also crop up in younger dogs. Excessive tartar and gingivitis (inflamed, sore gums) are both common in dogs. Any combination of wet food, sugary treats, genetic predisposition, and lack of tooth-cleaning can lead to issues.
Broken teeth can happen following trauma in young, excitable dogs or can happen secondary to diseased teeth. When a tooth gets infected, an abscess can occur around the root. A tooth root abscess is a pocket of pus that cannot drain out, causing swelling and pain. All of these dental problems can cause drooling in dogs.
If your pup is drooling due to dental problems, then the drool may be blood-tinged, smell bad or contain some brown discharge. You may notice your dog pawing at their mouth, dropping food, or a reduction in their appetite. If this is the case, they need veterinary attention.
To help prevent dental problems, you can regularly clean your dog’s teeth using dog-safe toothpaste, give them dental chews, and take them for regular dental checks at your veterinary clinic. You can also use a number of dental additives in your pup’s food or water to help prevent plaque from forming.
Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, especially older dogs and those with thicker coats or flat faces (brachycephalic). When a dog gets too hot, they pant and drool more in an attempt to cool down. Is your dog drooling and panting on a hot day? Consider heat stroke as an option.
If your dog has a heat stroke, you may notice heavy panting, agitation, red gums, vomiting, lack of coordination, or collapse. If you suspect this is the cause, your pup needs veterinary treatment as soon as possible. You can use wet towels or fans to start cooling them on the way to the veterinary clinic.
To prevent a heat stroke, always make sure your dog has access to cool, shady areas. Make sure they drink enough water. And if your pup enjoys sunbathing, monitor him, and don’t let him stay outside for too long.
If you’ve ever felt nauseous yourself, you’ll remember that feeling of excess saliva in your mouth, often accompanied by a bad taste. Well, your canine friend experiences the same, just more exaggerated.
Dogs can experience nausea for many reasons. Examples include nausea due to motion sickness, anxiety, tummy issues, vestibular syndrome (affecting balance), and kidney or liver disease.
If the drooling is caused by nausea, they may also have a reduced or absent appetite. You may notice drooling and vomiting. It may appear hungry but then turn its nose up at food at the last minute. You may also see them restless or pacing more than normal.
If you suspect your pup is nauseous and has no obvious cause (such as a road trip), then take them for a check-up with your veterinarian.
We all know dogs love to explore with their mouths. Your dog may drool if they eat or lick something that they shouldn’t — a dog that has licked their flea medicine off is a frequent example.
Other examples include licking cleaning chemicals, toads, or chocolate. Eating or licking something toxic can also sometimes cause a seizure (a ‘fit’). It is common for dogs to drool during and after seizing.
The other symptoms depend on the offending substance. For example, many flea medicines only cause temporary drooling if licked.
Some toxic substances cause other symptoms, such as vomiting, weakness, or a lack of coordination. Call your veterinary clinic for advice immediately if you suspect your dog has licked or eaten something he shouldn’t.
To help prevent drooling due to toxins:
- Keep all household cleaning products well out of reach.
- Research dog-safe plants for the house and garden.
- Keep all medicines well out of reach and supervise your dog after their flea, tick, or preventatives.
Any lumps or bumps in the mouth, throat, or stomach can cause excessive drooling, whether benign or cancerous. One example found in the mouth is a mucocele, a build-up of saliva under the skin. Salivary mucoceles usually arise following damage to the salivary gland or duct.
The most common tumors found in the mouth include benign fibromas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanomas.
If your dog’s drool is because of growth, it may also have swelling in the neck or under the chin. You may notice other symptoms, like pawing at the mouth or reluctance to eat. The saliva may be blood-tinged. You may notice unexplained weight loss, vomiting, or other vague symptoms, and you may even be able to see a mass or growth.
Some dogs can develop nerve issues that affect the face, like idiopathic trigeminal neuritis and facial nerve paralysis. Dogs with these conditions may drool excessively and have difficulty swallowing food and water.
Contact your veterinarian’s office if you are concerned about anything abnormal in your dog’s mouth or notice any of these symptoms.
Foreign Objects In Mouth Or Throat
Dogs drool if a foreign object is stuck in their mouth or throat. One common scenario is having a piece of stick or bone stuck between the upper teeth or on the roof of the mouth. Foreign bodies can get lodged under the tongue too. Dogs may sometimes drool with foreign bodies in the stomach, although this is likely due to nausea.
Foreign bodies can be anything from a bird to a roll of paper towels. Dogs with foreign bodies in the mouth or throat usually show signs of distress, such as drooling and shaking, restlessness, and pawing at the face.
Your canine companion may allow you to open its mouth to check but do not risk getting bitten. It is safest to allow your veterinarian to deal with it, especially since the foreign body may have caused damage that needs addressing.
Dogs will be dogs, and accidents are bound to happen. Reduce the risk by not feeding bones, and never throw wooden sticks or stones during playtime. Supervise play and remove any damaged toys right away.
Any trauma in the mouth or throat can cause sudden excessive drooling in dogs. A common one for inquisitive puppies is electrical burns from chewing cables. Other examples include stick injuries or dogs biting their tongues.
If your dog has experienced trauma, you may notice blood-tinged drool, and they may be vocalizing. You may have witnessed the accident, but sometimes your pup starts drooling without an apparent reason. If you’re unsure, it’s safest to go to the vet to double-check.
Never throw anything hard during playtime to help prevent trauma in the mouth. There are plenty of heavy-duty dog toy alternatives on the market. Use cable ties and electrical tape to keep electrical wires out of the reach of playful pups.
Several gut-related issues can lead to excessive saliva. Reflux can cause acid to come up the food pipe from the stomach, irritating the food pipe and leading to excessive salivation. Many gut problems cause nausea too, which (as we’ve already discussed) can also cause drooling.
Megaesophagus is another condition in this category that could cause your pup to drool excessively. This condition occurs when the food pipe is enlarged and works less effectively, meaning it struggles to move food downwards to the stomach.
If your pup is drooling due to gut issues, they may also be experiencing sickness, diarrhea, or a change in appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time for a visit to your veterinarian.
Rabies is a fatal virus transmitted by animal bites. One of the classic symptoms in dogs is excessive salivation. Other symptoms include temperament change, aggression, facial feature changes, and difficulty swallowing.
Thankfully there is a vaccination to prevent rabies, so hopefully, this is not something you need to worry about for your pooch. If your dog has not had its rabies injection, please arrange one as soon as possible.
There are many potential reasons for a dog drooling more than usual. A few are harmless, while many require veterinary attention. You may notice other symptoms which give clues as to the cause, or excess drooling may be the only symptom.
Either way, you should schedule an appointment with your vet. Your vet will conduct a physical exam and discuss any further tests needed. Blood work, x-rays, endoscopy (an internal camera), or sedation for a better look can all be helpful investigative tools.
Treatment depends on the cause. Your veterinarian can guide you through the plan at each step so you can get back to enjoying those wet kisses in no time.