Health & Wellness
It's likely OK if you spot a dribble of drool hanging from your dog's mouth when you pull out the treat container or while serving dinner. And some breeds produce more slobbery spit than others (we see you, Bulldogs!).
Knowing what's normal versus not-so-standard when it comes to your pup's drool will help cue you into when it's becoming excessive — we've uncovered everything you need to know.
“Some drooling can be normal, especially in certain breeds like Saint Bernards, Mastiffs and other breeds that have large upper lips,” Dr. Emily Singler, VMD, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains.
But dogs often drool because they’re hungry, anxious, excited or if they see or smell nearby food, Dr. Singler adds.
The difference between normal and too much slobber happens when a pup produces more saliva than their mouth can handle, resulting in it spilling out. “Excessive drooling can be explained as drooling in a dog who doesn't usually drool or in situations where a pet doesn't usually drool,” Dr. Singler says.
Excessive drooling can be caused by milder reasons (but they can escalate to a serious status), like foreign objects stuck in their mouth, certain infections or anything that causes nausea or an upset stomach, Dr. Singler explains.
There are more serious causes for extra saliva, too, including mouth trauma, an abscess, cancer, toxin exposure, neurologic disorders, esophagus diseases (like foreign object obstruction, esophagitis and megaesophagus) and a portosystemic shunt, aka an abnormal blood vessel that can cause liver dysfunction, Dr. Singler shares.
While the drooling itself isn’t an emergency, it can often be a sign of something emergent. It’s important to look for any additional symptoms or changes in your dog's behavior if you notice extra saliva from their mouth.
“Excessive drooling can definitely be cause for concern if a dog has pain in their mouth, experienced trauma, something is stuck in their mouth, they're repeatedly vomiting, they aren’t mentally aware and alert or is having any trouble breathing,” Dr. Singler says.
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Because there can be many different causes of excessive drooling, the potential treatment varies. There isn’t one solution, but once the underlying cause is solved, the drooling will likely be reduced or stopped altogether, Dr. Singler shares.
“This might mean surgery, sedation to remove a foreign object, pain (or other) medications, hospitalization or other treatment as needed,” Dr. Singler says.
Excessive drooling can’t always be prevented — like if a dog gets a foreign object stuck in their mouth — but pet parents can take measures to try and stop certain causes.
“This can include monitoring your dog carefully when they're chewing on their toys to make sure the toy isn’t breaking down or getting stuck in their mouth or throat,” Dr. Singler adds.
You’ll also want to keep your pup away from the trash and avoid feeding them table food, especially bones from the food you cook, as these can cause trauma when they’re chewed on or get stuck in their throat.
“Make sure dogs don’t chew on cords or other items that can cause electrical or chemical burns in the mouth,” Dr. Singler urges. “And don't allow dogs access to toxic chemicals, drugs or medications. Some topical medications will cause drooling if they accidentally get in your dog's mouth, so try to avoid this as well.”
The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.
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Photo by Mladen Šćekić on Unsplash