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“Cats rule and dogs drool.” – Sassy the cat in “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey“
Sassy had a point, especially if she’d just watched “Turner and Hooch,” starring a Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff) as Hooch, who showered his home and dog dad Turner (Tom Hanks) with slimy strings of saliva. (Because of this issue, Hooch scored an honorable mention in i Love Dogs’ list of the scariest movie dogs last year).
If your pooch is a Mastiff, Bulldog, or hound, it’s very likely that you always have tissues or a towel handy. On the other hand, if your dog starts salivating profusely out of the blue, it could be a sign of irritation in his mouth, nausea, or something more serious that requires a visit to your vet.
Why Do Dogs Drool?
When a dog sees food, the salivary glands in the back of his mouth are stimulated, and the saliva starts flowing. The fluid makes the food easier to swallow and contains enzymes that break down some of the food’s compounds.
In his famous experiment back in the 1890s, Ivan Pavlov trained dogs to drool on command – called classical conditioning – by ringing a bell or using another stimulus before feeding them. Eventually the dogs would start drooling the moment they heard the bell.
Dogs can drool due to medical reasons as well, such as foreign objects embedded in their mouths, nausea, pain and some neurological conditions.
Is My Dog More Likely to Drool than Others?
According to Pets.ca, Mastiff, Bulldog, and hound breeds drool more because the skin around their mouths and jaws is very loose and droopy, which lets the saliva seep out, “especially when they eat and exercise.”
Vetinfo.com adds that saliva collects in all those pockets, so when those dogs shake their heads, the drool flies.
These breeds are the most notorious for drooling issues, reports vetinfo.com:
Dogbreedinfo.com also has a comprehensive list of the breeds most likely to slobber.
Why is My Dog Suddenly Drooling?
If your dog isn’t normally a hypersalivator but has started drooling excessively, it could indicate a problem, so you should take him to the vet. Pets.ca reports that causes can be anything from a chipped tooth or gum infection to poisoning or a foreign object lodged in his throat. Long-term excessive drooling can lead to dehydration, according to WebMD.com, so it’s important to get it taken care of.
Dogs often drool when they are nauseated. If you’re on a road trip with your dog and he begins drooling and licking his lips, it could be a sign that he experiencing car sickness. You should pull over and take him for a walk, recommends MetPet.com.
Neurological problems, such as seizures, can also cause your dog to drool. You should have him examined by a vet immediately.
Other causes of sudden drooling are foreign objects, injuries, infections and growths in your dog’s mouth. You should inspect your dog’s mouth to see if something could be bothering him. If your dog is in pain, he may clamp his mouth shut and even attempt to bite you if you try to pry it open. In this case, you should take him to the vet.
Foreign objects – Check for “splinters, fish hooks, bone fragments, or bits of plant matter or fabric.” Examine your dog’s gums, tongue, the spaces between his teeth and the roof of his mouth. If you find something and can easily remove it, go ahead and do so; otherwise, a trip to the vet is necessary.
Injuries – Look for any bleeding or wounds. If your dog’s gums are red or purple instead of pink, it could indicate injury or infection. Check your dog’s teeth for hairline cracks at the gum line, which can sometimes extend to the tooth’s root, resulting in pain and salivation. If you do see bleeding but it is not excessive, you can dab a cotton pad with hydrogen peroxide, then place it on the wound to clean it and get a better look.
Infection – If there is yellow-to-greenish pus in your dog’s mouth, it usually indicates a bacterial infection. You should take him to the vet for a thorough examination.
Growths – If you notice a lump, bump, or abnormal-looking tissue in your dog’s mouth, take him dog to the vet. It could be anything from a benign wart to squamous cell carcinoma, a very serious form of cancer.
You should take your dog to the vet if he has any of these symptoms, recommends WebMD.com:
A foreign object in his mouth that you can’t safely remove yourself
Bleeding in his mouth that you cannot stop
More than a small amount of pus in his mouth
A fractured tooth
A lump, bump or growth in his mouth
You believe your dog may be drooling because of pain, nausea or a neurological problem
How to Treat Excessive Drooling
To help absorb your dog’s drool – and at the same time make him a fashion statement – you can try tying a thin cotton dishtowel or bandana around his neck, with the point in the front, suggests metpet.com.
Vetinfo.com recommends that you get in the habit of wiping your dog’s muzzle after he eats or drinks. While this won’t stop your dog from drooling, it will help prevent the spread of saliva.
The good news is you can train your dog to wipe his own muzzle. i Love Dogs’ in-house trainer Eugenia Vogel provides step-by-step instructions.
In more good news, dog drool is actually useful, at least in the medical world. A study earlier this year found that the DNA in dog saliva may contain the key to cancer treatment for both dogs and humans.
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.