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10 Reasons Your Dog is Drooling: When is it Time to Worry?

Trying to figure out why your dog is drooling more than normal? A drooling dog can be the result of something harmless, or something more concerning. Veterinarian Joanna Woodnutt looks at several reasons your dog may be drooling excessively.

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Last Updated: March 24, 2021 | 7 min read

Brown and White Dog Drooling

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a local professional. If your dog appears to be drooling significantly more than normal, contact your local vet immediately.

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 big jowls are the first ones that come to mind as an example

A bit of slobber is expected; however, if your dog suddenly starts drooling, or is drooling more than usual, this needs investigating. 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.

So, why is my dog drooling so much all of a sudden? Are there some common reasons this might be happening that I should worry about? Here are ten common reasons why dogs drool and what to do about it!

Hunger and Excitement

Dog Drooling
Harmless causes of drooling can include your pup being hungry, or just excited.

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 Issues

Small Dog With Toothbrush
It is best to take good care of your dog’s teeth to avoid dental disease in his gum tissue or problems with his teeth.

Dental problems are common in middle age to older dogs but can crop up in younger dogs, too. 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 will need veterinary attention.

To help prevent dental problems, you can clean your dog’s teeth regularly 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.

Heat Stroke

Dog Wearing a Harness and Sitting on a Bench
Make sure your dog can easily access shade and fresh, cool water during the hot summer months to prevent heat stroke.

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.

Nausea

Dog With Large Head Looking at the Camera
When your dog feels sick, his body will produce excessive saliva.

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 their 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 there is no obvious cause (such as a car journey), then take them for a check-up with your veterinarian.

Toxins

Side View of Large Gray Dog
To sidestep drooling due to chemicals or toxins, keep them well out of reach from your pooch.

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.

If drooling occurs because your pup licked or eaten something it shouldn’t, the other symptoms will depend on the offending substance. For example, many flea medicines will only cause temporary drooling if licked.

Some toxic substances will cause other symptoms, such as vomiting, weakness, or a lack of coordination. If you suspect your dog has licked or eaten something it shouldn’t, then call your veterinary clinic for advice straight away.

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/worm preventatives.

Growths

Older Gray and White Dog Standing in Grass
Abnormal tissue growth in your dog’s mouth should be explored by your vet.

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 a growth, it may also have swelling in the neck or under the chin. You may notice other symptoms, like pawing at the mouth or reluctantancy 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.

If you are concerned about anything abnormal in your dog’s mouth or notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinary clinic.

Foreign Bodies

Large Brown Dog Face With Sky Background
It is common for something to get stuck in your dog’s mouth or teeth which will cause drooling.

Dogs will drool if they have a foreign object 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 sometimes 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 will 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 will happen. Reduce the risk by not feeding bones, and never throw wooden sticks or stones during playtime. Supervise play and remove any damaged toys straight away.

Trauma

White Dog with Black Spots With His Mouth Open
An injury or wound may be the reason behind your dog’s noticeable drooling.

Any trauma in the mouth or throat can cause excessive drooling. 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 a trauma, you may notice blood-tinged drool, and they may be vocalizing. You may have witnessed the accident, but sometimes your pup will start drooling without an apparent reason. If you’re unsure, it’s safest to go to the vet in case.

To help prevent trauma in the mouth, never throw anything hard during platime. 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!

Gastro-intestinal Problems

Fluffy Brown and White Dog With His Mouth Open
If your pup is drooling more excessively than usual, it can be a sign he needs a checkup or medical treatment.

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, leading to excessive salivation. Many gut problems will cause nausea too, which (as we’ve already discussed) can also cause drooling.

Mega-esophagus 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 veterinary clinic.

Rabies

Puppy Dog Getting a Shot
It is imperative your dog stays up-to-date on her rabies vaccinations.

One of the classic symptoms of rabies in dogs is excessive salivation. Rabies is a fatal virus transmitted by animal bites. Symptoms include a change in temperament, aggression, changes to facial features, 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 urgently arrange one!

Final Thoughts

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 at your veterinary clinic. Your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam and then discuss any further tests needed. Blood work, sedation for a better look, x-rays, or endoscopy (a special camera) can all be used to investigate.

Treatment will depend on the cause. Your veterinarian will guide you through the plan at each step. You’ll be back to enjoying those wet kisses in no time!

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