Even though drooling is normal, if your dog is drooling more than usual, it may be cause for concern. Have you noticed that your dog is drooling all the time? What is a normal amount of drooling and when does it become a concern? Read on to find out!
Why Do Dogs Drool?
Just as in humans and other animals, saliva is produced in response to food. This is an active part of the digestive system which starts the process of breaking down food. For dogs, the saliva pools in the loose flaps of their jowls, where it overflows or is expelled by movement. Drooling at the sight of food is a part of a Pavlovian response. The anticipation of their food activates their brains to start producing saliva and begin the digestive process. So, if your dog is drooling a lot around dinner time or when treats are present, this is completely normal.
When dogs get excited to go on a ride or to the park, they may release a lot of drool. This may be concerning to you, but it is a common problem. Like children, when dogs get excited, the source of their excitement is all they can think about. They get so excited they forget to swallow their saliva and allow it to accumulate in their mouths. Then, when they open their mouths, the drool overflows. Any activity or reward that your dog anticipates can cause drooling.
Anxiety can cause excessive drooling in dogs. According to PetMD, a dog’s nervous system activates the drooling response when the dog is stressed. Other symptoms of anxiety include panting, shaking, pacing, hiding, and diarrhea. If you suspect your dog may be anxious, try to figure out what is causing your dog stress. Eliminating the stressor is the best way to help with anxiety, but it’s not always possible. Training and comfort items are also helpful to dogs with anxiety, but in some cases, dogs need to be on anti-anxiety medication. Your dog’s veterinarian can determine whether your dog needs this medication.
Why Do Certain Breeds Drool More Than Others?
Humans have selectively bred dogs for hundreds of years. Dogs have been bred to fight, swim, hunt, herd, and many other tasks. This selective breeding has shaped the way that our pets look and act today. Several dogs were bred to have larger jowls.
Besides being visually appealing to dog owners, floppy jowls serve several different functions. Large dog jowls are better for picking up scents, keeping out water while a dog is swimming, protecting the head when fighting, and many other functions. The tradeoff for these multifaceted jowls was excessive drooling. The copious amounts of drool are a result of the extra skin around their lips that trap the saliva. Even when the dog is at rest, he may drool because part of the inner lip is exposed.
The following breeds are known for their extra drool:
Can Drooling be a Sign of Something More Serious?
Drooling as a Symptom
If your dog doesn’t normally drool a lot, they may have something in their mouth or throat preventing them from swallowing properly. There are a variety of reasons your dog may have excessive drooling, including tooth problems, tumors, infection, or even a foreign object. Drooling also sometimes accompanies stomach issues, especially nausea. If you suspect that your pet has one of these issues, it is important to take her to the vet for immediate care.
Dogs are omnivores, so it is possible that your dog got into a plant she wasn’t supposed to if she is drooling more than usual. Toxic plants such as Ivy, Gladiolas, Daffodils, Chrysanthemums, and many others are common in the landscape around many homes. They are also dangerous to your pet. To verify whether your dog has eaten a toxic plant, look for signs of the foliage in your house or around your yard that has been shredded or gnawed on. Examine plants in your landscape that you know are toxic for any signs of bite marks. If you are unsure whether a plant is toxic and your dog is acting strange, take her to the vet anyway because toxic plants can kill dogs.
How Can I Help My Drooling Dog?
Keep a Drool Rag
If your dog is a drooler, you may just want to keep a rag around to wipe away the excessive drool. Your dog can’t help that its mouth is particularly moist. Food time can be especially troublesome for dog breeds who drool, so a towel is sometimes needed below the food bowl. When you travel with your dog, you may want to keep a towel or some wipes in the car to dab away excess drool from the excitement of the journey. The extra drool doesn’t hurt your dog or you, but it may be an extra chore you will have to learn to live with.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
All dogs should have their teeth brushed regularly. This will help prevent many of the tooth and mouth issues that can cause excessive drooling in dogs who do not normally drool a lot, but you can brush your dog’s teeth with a dog toothbrush and paste. You can also buy dental treats that brush your dog’s teeth as they chew on them. These treats also freshen their breath. You can also use a washcloth to wipe your dog's teeth or take your dog to the groomer for dental care. This should keep your dog’s mouth healthier and prevent infections and dental issues that can exacerbate drooling.