Reviewed for accuracy on April 1, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
When it comes to drooling in dogs, “normal” is a relative concept. “Saliva (drool) is a normal part of digesting food, and there is a ‘normal amount’ of saliva that is produced at all times,” explains Dr. Rory Lubold, DVM, CEO of Paion Veterinary in Arizona. “Some breeds of dog, and some dogs within a breed, can produce a higher-than-average amount of drool.”
As a general rule, most breeds of dogs do not normally have a problem with drooling, according to Dr. Jill Lopez, DVM, MBA, director of marketing and strategic partnerships at the Essentials Pet Care Clinic in Port Richey, Florida. “However, dogs with large upper lips are known to be droolers—and this includes Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Bloodhounds and Newfoundlands.”
Excessive drooling in dogs that don’t normally drool can be a sign of a health issue, so it is important to notice when your dog is drooling a lot or more than they usually do. Dr. Lubold advises pet parents to observe what’s typical for their pet so they can easily identify changes.
If you notice your dog drooling more than normal, it is important that you talk with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Here are some potential causes of excessive drooling in dogs so you can have a more informed discussion during your vet visit.
Anticipation and Stress Can Result in Excessive Drooling
Anticipation can be triggered by both positive and negative things. For example, you’ve probably seen your dog drool a little more than usual when it’s time for dinner or if they think you might share some tasty food with them.
“Some dogs may drool if they see a treat or maybe when you are opening up a can of food,” Lopez says. “The body is preparing to eat and is increasing the salivation level.”
You might also notice excessive salivation as the result of anxiety caused by visits to the vet, a car ride or even moving to a new home, says Dr. Lubold. Dogs may drool during a car ride due to stress and/or motion sickness.
“Stress can be a powerful reason for dogs to salivate,” Dr. Lubold says. “Often it is accompanied by other signs of anxiety, such as restlessness, panting or even diarrhea.”
“Oral pain or pain in the abdomen often leads to nausea, panting, vomiting and drooling,” says Dr. Lubold.
Abdominal pain often appears together with other signs, such as restlessness, diarrhea, loss of appetite or even abdominal distention. Some dogs will brace, or “guard,” their abdomen to avoid being touched where it hurts.
If you suspect the drooling is caused by periodontal disease or other oral problems such as a tumor or infection, Dr. Lubold recommends looking for signs such as a mass, blood, pus or a foul odor coming from the mouth.
Eating Dangerous Plants Can Cause Drooling in Dogs
Many plants are irritating or poisonous to dogs when chewed on or eaten and can cause anything from drooling to life-threatening side effects. While there are literally thousands of potentially poisonous plants, Dr. Lopez says some are more likely to be found in households everywhere.
“One type of plant that can cause drooling in pets are those that contain calcium oxalate crystals, such as peace lilies and mother-in-law’s tongue,” explains Dr. Lopez. “When the plant is bitten, the crystals inside cause irritation of the oral cavity, mouth, tongue and lips.”
While Dr. Lopez says these types of plants are not life-threatening to dogs, they will make them very uncomfortable if ingested. “Dogs will drool excessively and sometimes paw at their mouth,” says Dr. Lopez.
Furthermore, Dr. Lubold says, “If a plant is toxic enough to be the cause of excessive salivation, it likely also has other serious effects, and a veterinarian should always be consulted.”
Neurological Conditions Will Cause Drooling
Dog drooling could indicate damage to the nerve that connects to the salivary gland, damage to the salivary gland or damage to the brain, says Dr. Lopez. “Other signs, like uneven pupils, lethargy and weakness may accompany this,” Dr. Lopez adds.
Some neurological conditions can also cause too much saliva production or even make it difficult for your dog to swallow the saliva produced, says Dr. Lubold.
If you notice that your dog has difficulty swallowing, talk to your vet right away.
Oral Injuries Can Lead to Excessive Dog Drooling
Injuries to the mouth are a common cause of excess drooling. Blunt force trauma, chewing on a sharp object, or foreign material that’s lodged in the mouth may all be to blame.
Dr. Lubold adds, “Many caustic chemicals (such as battery acid) and any electrical burn (like chewing an electrical cord) can cause bleeding and sometimes drooling. Many times, these injuries or chemicals can also cause other health problems, and seeking veterinary care right away can limit the extent of the injuries or toxins.”
Chemical burns are often accompanied by pain and lesions, and your pet may paw at his mouth, says Dr. Lopez. If you notice any of these, call your vet right away, even if you can’t tell what caused the irritation.
By: Diana Bocco
Featured Image: iStock.com/NancyPaiva