Drooling is a natural behavior for a dog, but sometimes a dog drooling can be a cause for concern. Excessive drooling could be due to behavioral, medical or environmental reasons that should be addressed right away.
Normal Reasons for Dog Drool
If you've ever prepared dinner for your dog while he watched you in anticipation, you've likely seen at least a bit of drool forming on his lips as he waits. Drooling as a sign of excitement is a normal behavior for dogs and you'll see them do it as they're about to be fed, given a chew or a toy, or as you're pulling into the parking lot of the dog park or his favorite training class. Some dogs will also drool when they're relaxed and content, such as stretched out on the couch taking a nice afternoon nap.
Dog Breeds and Drooling
Another normal reason for lots of drool is breed. Some breeds drool much more day-to-day than others.
Anxiety and Drooling
Dogs that are extremely anxious and afraid will drool, often accompanied by other stress behaviors such as pacing, freezing, staying low to the ground or panting excessively. If your dog displays these behaviors, he is reacting to something in his environment that is making him stressed and the best thing to do is remove him to a place where he can calm down and feel safe. If this behavior occurs frequently with your dog, speak to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medication and working on a behavioral modification plan.
Dogs in the summer time can drool if they're overheating and it can be one of the signs your dog is experiencing heat stroke. Remove your dog from hot areas immediately and take him some place he can cool off. Make sure he stays well hydrated although if you think your dog is in danger, giving him too much water can make him more sick. Consult with an emergency veterinarian immediately about how to care for your dog while you get him to a clinic.
Medical Problems and Drooling
There are several medical problems that a dog can suffer from that include drooling as a symptom.
- Dental problems such as periodontal disease, a fractured or abscessed tooth or benign or cancerous tumors can be painful for a dog. A side effect will be an increase in drooling as well as poor appetite, red gums and/or bad breath.
- Poisoning and toxic or foreign objects can cause drooling, whether the dog ate something that is making him sick or was caustic or irritating to his gums and teeth.
- Motion sickness can make a dog drool more than usual. If your dog drools in the car, it could be because he's excited and loves car rides, but if his behavior includes lying down, anxious panting and pacing, vomiting and drooling, this may mean he is getting car sick.
- General nausea from stomach upset and certain medications can also lead to excessive drooling.
- Extreme pain and discomfort can lead to drooling. If your dog has injured himself, just had surgery or if he's suffering from a painful condition like hip dysplasia, more drool than usual can be expected.
- Infectious diseases, particularly rabies, are marked by intensive drooling and salivation. Canine distemper is another serious infectious disease where one will see more drooling than normal.
- It's common for a dog suffering from seizures and epilepsy to drool during or after an episode.
- Both kidney disease and liver disease can include drooling as one of the symptoms.
- Respiratory infections affecting the nose, sinuses and throat of a dog can lead to drooling as the irritation makes it harder for a dog to breathe and swallow.
- Excessive drool is one of the symptoms of the deadly condition bloat, also known as gastric torsion. Drooling accompanied by pacing and a bloated abdominal area is a sign to get your dog to a veterinarian immediately.
When to Contact a Veterinarian
If your dog normally drools every day and he's a breed that's known for drooling, or he drools at times when it seems perfectly healthy, such as excitement, you likely don't need to worry. But if your dog suddenly begins drooling more than usual or his level of drool is excessive compared to normal, it's time to get him in for a veterinary check-up. If you notice him drooling accompanied by other symptoms such as bad breath, inflamed gums or bumps in his mouth, coughing, pacing, vomiting or even seizures, these are all signs he is suffering from a serious and possibly life-threatening medical condition.