If you have a pet dog, you are familiar with the fact that dogs drool. This may be in their sleep, when they are excited with affection or when they see a delicious bowl of food. Just as human beings produce saliva as a response to several different stimuli, so do dogs—they have several reactions to things that may cause them to drool. As a pet owner, you become used to receiving your dog’s sloppy affection.
After a few hits and trials, you may also get used to the drooling. It may be useful to also keep a drool cloth at hand to save your upholstery and clothes from the slime. Drooling is especially common with breeds like Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Bloodhounds, etc. who have extra skin around their lips into which the saliva tends to collect. With nowhere else to go, the saliva either drips or flies when they move or shake their head.
However, there may be a point where the drooling seems heavier than usual and that may be cause for some concern. Excessive drooling can be a symptom of a larger problem that must be addressed before it exacerbates. The following are some of the reasons why your dog may be drooling excessively and acting strangely:
The only place for a dog’s saliva to go is either back into its system for which the saliva needs to be swallowed or it drips out of the mouth. If, for whatever reason, your dog is not able to swallow the saliva it will start pooling in the mouth, causing them to drool all over the place.
The problem with swallowing could occur because of a problem in the throat or in the mouth generally. The obstruction to proper swallowing could be a broken tooth or swollen gum. The salivary glands work overtime when there is an injury in the tooth. It could also be a tumor inside the mouth or in the esophagus.
Even a foreign object lodged in between the teeth or in the gums could trigger an infection that makes it difficult for the dog to swallow. It is important to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and ensure there is no buildup of tartar. You should inspect your dog’s mouth regularly anyway, but if you notice that they are drooling more than usual, it is all the more reason to look inside their mouth.
Discomfort in the mouth will also come with other behavioral issues. Your dog may not want to eat because swallowing food could become uncomfortable for them. Be sure to observe all these behaviors and act swiftly.
If your pooch is experiencing some tummy trouble, that could also be one of the reasons that it cannot control its saliva. If the stomach trouble is causing nausea, drooling alongside is inevitable. This is also why you may notice your dog is drooling more if they are experiencing motion sickness while on a road trip. If that is the case, the drooling should stop when the car is no longer in motion.
The stomach problems could be a result of anything. Your dog may have broken into the cleaning supply closet and ingested something by mistake. You may have accidentally given them something they are allergic to or they may have experimented with some noxious plants in the backyard. Drooling is one of the earliest symptoms of an upset stomach, along with vomiting, shivering, lethargy, etc.
There are also certain small critters and amphibians that have a noxious layer on their skin to ward off predators. If your curious dog has gone ahead and licked one such toad, spider, scorpion, etc, it can cause them to get sick. The excessive salivating is the body’s way to get rid of that toxin but if you suspect your dog has been poisoned in this way (especially if you live in an area that is known for poisonous flora and fauna), you must get medical help immediately.
Having a dog at home means you need to be aware of all these possibilities and always be on the lookout for any changes in your dog’s behavior.
Related: Can Dogs Get Rabies From Ticks?
As you may know, dogs do not have the same mechanism for cooling down as human beings. While human beings sweat to reduce the body’s core temperature and cool down, dogs pant to do the same thing. There is no process of perspiration that dogs can employ to cool down.
When the weather becomes especially hot or if the dog has exerted itself, it reduces its temperature by panting. But at times when the heat is too much and the dog does not have enough provisions to guard itself against the heat, it may suffer a heat stroke just as human beings do as well in the face of intense heat. When that happens, your pooch may feel delirious and the parched feeling from the heat would cause it to drool more heavily.
A heat stroke is a phenomenon that could flare up into something far more serious. It is of the utmost importance to, firstly, prevent your dog from experiencing a heat stroke by taking all the necessary precautions and secondly, intervening swiftly in case you do notice signs of a heat stroke.
Anxiety and stress can also cause your pet to feel queasy and nauseous. As has been described above, nausea causes excessive drooling. In addition to feelings of nausea, anxiety may also cause your dog to breathe heavily with their mouth open.
This causes the mouth to dry out, which in turn increases the saliva production in the mouth. It is important to keep a lookout for signs of anxiety and see what may be causing your pooch to feel stressed out and anxious.
Whether it is a trip to the vet that is causing the anxiety or some other environmental trigger is at play, it is important to pay attention to the signs and comfort your dog. A sudden change in diet, environment or company can also cause anxiety in dogs, especially if they have a history of trauma.
As a pet owner, you must be sure to keep your dog in mind when making big life decisions. This is not to say you shouldn’t take a new job in a new city, but put in ample work to ensure your dog is comfortable and secure.
Related: Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
If your dog has a respiratory infection affecting the throat, nose or sinuses, it can lead to excessive drooling. The salivary glands produce more saliva to counter the infection as a dog’s saliva has several medicinal properties. However, the saliva alone cannot treat the infection. It needs to be treated locally with greater care.
The respiratory disease could also cause the throat to constrict, preventing the dog from swallowing the saliva. After all, the ear, nose and throat are connected. If there is a nasal infection, it could affect the throat as well. If you have other pets in the house, that could also be a reason for infection passing around between the two dogs.
If you notice signs of infection in one dog, it is best to isolate the dog until the infection is treated. You should also be sure to wash your hands when you handle one dog, before moving on to handling the other dog.
You may also want to keep the dog indoors and away from pollutants outside that could flare the infection up.
A seizure could also be the reason for your dog to be drooling. Of course, this is a far more serious condition and one that will be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. But a seizure is one of the reasons that would cause a dog to drool excessively.
Often, the muscles around the mouth fall weak and the dog may not be able to close its mouth properly. This causes it to slobber more visibly. While it goes without saying that you need to get immediate medical attention if you suspect your dog is having a seizure, the symptoms of drooling may persist temporarily even after your dog has been treated.
The muscles near the mouth need some time to become strong and bounce back, so you must give it some time. Most importantly, aid your dog in their recovery in whatever way you can.
In another example of serious conditions that could be causing your pooch to drool excessively, kidney or liver disease should also be included on the list. This may be a more likely reason if you are caring for a senior dog. Excessive drooling and slobbering, along with vomiting and diarrhea are seen to be some of the intermediate symptoms of kidney failure in dogs. Some of the other early symptoms you can look out for are fatigue, drowsiness, foul breath and nausea. Nausea can also be a direct cause of excessive drooling.
If an organ failure is causing nausea or other feelings of discomfort, the salivary glands are activated which is a significant symptom you must look out for.
What Should You Do in Case of Emergency?
If you notice the drooling is excessive and is accompanied by other strange behavior, like a loss in appetite, fatigue, drowsiness, etc., you must give the vet a call. Often, pet owners are not able to differentiate between what is a condition that will pass on its own and what could be an emergency that needs immediate intervention.
To err on the side of caution, it is best to treat every aberration as an emergency. This does not mean you should panic every time you notice your pooch is looking a bit sickly or is acting differently than usual. However, it would not hurt to keep your vet on speed dial and consult with them over the phone if you observe symptoms over a few hours or days.
If your dog is drooling excessively because of an infection, because it has an upset stomach or for any other reason, more often than not it is a condition that will not go away on its own. It may not always be a serious condition that needs immediate intervention, but it is best to seek medication before it has a chance to flare up.
It would also be advisable to keep some over the counter medication at home. For example, ginger pills are a good remedy for nausea and can give your pet some comfort. You should also keep some contingency medication for low blood pressure, stomach upset, etc. Having said that, these generic medications are in no way meant to replace your vet’s advice. Consult the doctor before giving your dog any medication.
Related: How to Clean Dog Poop Off Shoes
The Last Word
Apart from your dog, you are the only one who can tell if something is wrong with them. However, the dog will not be able to express what is wrong. It is up to you to observe their behavior and make note of symptoms.
Besides, if your dog is a moderate drooler and you suddenly find that they have been slobbering all over the place, that is a warning sign you should not disregard. The body does not react to things arbitrarily. If there is a new physiological occurrence in the body, it is certainly in reaction to something. You should look out for anything out of the ordinary and let the vet know.
Often the drooling may be accompanied by some other, more obvious symptoms. That, of course, makes your job much easier. However, even when the symptoms are subtle you should be careful to pay closer attention.
Some of the reasons for the excessive drooling given above are quite serious and can be cause for worry. However, there is no need to panic until you know for certain what is causing the excessive drooling and even once you know you must try to keep a calm demeanor if it is indeed something serious. Dogs are intuitive and intelligent beings. When their favorite humans worry, it will only increase their stress.