When we think of dogs we may generally get an image of a fluffy friend with a slobbery tongue. And some dogs really are slobbery. But is that drool anything to be concerned with? Today, our South Plainfield vets talk about drooling in dogs, why it happens and when it might be considered a problem.
What is the reason behind drooling in dogs?
Dogs drool. This is no surprise. Drool is almost entirely made up of water, but along with the water content, there are also enzymes, electrolytes and antibacterial compounds. There are glands situated near your jaw that then disperse the liquid into your mouth so that it can serve its given purpose.
Amylase is an enzyme that is used to help in the breaking down of any food that is eaten. Saliva also moistens the chewed food and aids in the formation of a bolus, which aids in swallowing. By eating with a moist mouth, the process is not only easier but the food tastes better as well.
By clearing food particles from the teeth, saliva reduces the formation of cavities and prevents tooth decay. Bad breath is caused by bacteria within the mouth. Saliva has antibacterial properties which help to cut down on the accumulation of this bacteria.
While there are many benefits to saliva, there are also potential issues that may arise with a build-up of saliva. 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 breeds of dog drool more than others?
While almost all dogs drool in some form, some dog breeds are known to drool more than others. Some of these extra drooly dogs include St. Bernards, Bulldogs, Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Excessive drooling in these breeds isn't always normal, so you should still monitor the amount that they appear to be drooling and reach out to your vet if you have any concerns.
Are there any specific causes of drooling in dogs?
Some of the typical causes of drooling in dogs include:
Smelling Food: Because your dog has over 200 million scent receptors your dog will notice and react when you bring food around or even just open their food bag.
Nausea: These include gastrointestinal (GI) issues, vestibular (balance) issues, and motion sickness. When your dog becomes nauseous it is likely that they begin to salivate in response.
Physical Formation: Dogs' mouths are not made to hold every drop that sits there. 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: Saliva is a huge help in preventing dental conditions but even so some dogs may develop dental issues that can become serious if left untreated. 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!
What are some of the signs that drooling has become an issue?
Drooling itself in dogs can indicate another serious issue that may have developed such as:
Decreased Appetite or a Change in Eating Routine: If hypersalivation is caused by chronic GI problems, the dog may lose appetite gradually. Drooling may be temporary if the cause is nausea, and will stop when the upset stomach resolves. Drooling caused by a mouth injury, growth, or foreign body will continue 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.
What can you do if your dog is drooling more than usual?
If you notice that your furry friend is drooling more than normal there could be a number of causes behind it:
- Cleaning Teeth
- Extracting Teeth
- Treating GI Problems
- Avoiding Irritants
- Healing Injuries
- Nausea Medication
If the problem is behavioral, try calming your dog before allowing guests into the house, or place the dog in a quiet area while you entertain visitors. Prepare for drooling when cooking dinner by keeping a towel nearby to mop up the deluge.
Some dogs just have a mouth that is shaped perfectly for sharing the slobber. If this is the case then a fancy bandana around their neck may do the trick to keep it off of everything.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.