Dogs drooling is a normal part of life for some breeds, but what do you do if there's a lot of slobber on your pet's face? Is it cause for concern? Today, our Los Angeles vets discuss drooling in dogs and when you should be concerned.
Why do dogs drool?
Like humans, dogs produce saliva. Saliva is 98% water, but it also contains antibacterial compounds, enzymes, and electrolytes that are essential for good health. This enzyme-rich juice is produced by glands near the jaw and drains into the mouth via ducts.
Amylase, an enzyme that begins the digestive process, is found in saliva. Amylase interacts with food and breaks it down during chewing. Saliva also moistens chewed food and helps to form a bolus, which aids in swallowing. A moist mouth feels better than a dry mouth and improves 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.
What are some breeds that drool?
Drooling is normal in all dogs, but some breeds drool more than others. Among them are St Bernards, bulldogs, bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Bernese mountain dogs. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always normal, so keep track of your dog's normal drooling level.
What causes drooling in dogs?
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 a stronger reaction when he smells your food, his food, or even when you open the dog food bag.
Nausea: These include digestive (GI) problems, vestibular (balance) problems and motion sickness. When a dog is sick, his salivary glands overwork 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. 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.
Excitement: When dogs are excited or agitated, they drool. That's why they slobber all over you!
When is drooling a sign of an underlying problem?
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 the hypersalivation is caused by chronic GI problems, the dog may gradually lose its appetite. If the cause is nausea, drooling may be temporary and will stop when the upset stomach resolves. Drooling from a mouth injury, growth, or foreign body will last 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.
How to Stop a Dog From Drooling
The underlying cause may be treated by cleaning teeth, extracting teeth, treating GI problems, avoiding irritants, healing injuries, or giving nausea medication prior to a trip. If the issue is behavioral, try calming your dog before allowing visitors into the house, or place the dog in a quiet area while you entertain guests. Prepare for drooling by keeping a towel nearby to mop up the deluge while cooking dinner.
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?