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What is Ptyalism?

Almost all dogs drool, especially if they are happy or excited, and even more so if they know they are about to get a treat. Saliva production is a normal response to stimulation. It lubricates the mouth, helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and begins breaking down food for digestion. However excessive drooling caused by too much saliva in the mouth is not normal and can be a sign of a serious condition. There are a number of different causes for ptylism or excessive saliva production in dogs. Some can be local issues in the mouth or throat, while others are more systemic disorders. Rabies can cause excessive salivation, so it’s important to eliminate that possibility before seeking other treatment.

Salivation or drooling is universal among dogs and is not a sign of ill-health. However excessive salivation or hypersalivation occurs when the salivary glands produce more saliva than the dog is able to swallow. Veterinarians define this as ptyalism. The excess moisture can cause inflammation and irritation around the dog’s mouth and lips, and can be a sign of an underlying problem.  

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Symptoms of Ptyalism in Dogs

Problems can often be detected by an increase in the level of salivation or a change in the saliva consistency. Recognizing excessive salivation will depend on knowing what is normal for your dog since some dogs drool more than others, especially among different breeds. Seek treatment if you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Drooling more than normal
  • Drooling with no apparent cause
  • Inflammation on the mouth or lips as a result of too much moisture
  • Refusal to eat.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • Saliva has a white foamy consistency.
  • Increased salivation is accompanied by sudden vomiting, diarrhea or other symptoms of serious illness.
Types

There are basically two types of situations which create excess saliva.

  • Hypersaliosis or hypersalivation means that the salivary glands are producing an abnormal amount of saliva.
  • Psudoptylism is when the dog is unable to swallow the saliva produced by the salivary glands. Although this is not actually an overproduction of saliva, it can look very similar to hypersalivation since the result will still be an excessive amount of saliva in the mouth.
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Causes of Ptyalism in Dogs

  • Irritation from a foreign object

    - sticks, stones or plastic toys can become lodged in your dog mouth and may cause excessive salivation as well as eventually pain and inflammation.

  • Injuries to the mouth

    - cuts, scrapes or bites inside the mouth can lead to excessive salivation.

  • Excessive emotions

    - dogs normally drool in response to emotional stimuli, but intense or traumatic emotions can increase this natural response.

  • Motion sickness

    - nausea caused by motion sickness can increase saliva production, as can the anxiety of traveling in a car.

  • Difficulty swallowing

    - irritation or blockage of the throat can make it painful or difficult for a dog to swallow which will lead to excessive saliva.

  • Inflamed tonsils

    - these can also make swallowing more difficult.

  • Medication

    - medication administration can cause increased saliva production, as can certain medications.

  • Allergic reaction

    - severe allergic reactions cause increased drooling, among other symptoms.

  • Poisoning

    - different types of poisoning can lead to excessive salivation. As symptoms worsen, the dog will often start to foam at the mouth.

  • Infectious diseases

    - rabies and certain forms of distemper can lead to excessive salivation and foaming at the mouth.

  • Seizures

    - some seizures can cause excessive salivation or foaming at the mouth.

  • Tumors

    - certain types of mouth tumors, including malignant cancer tumors, can cause excessive salivation.

  • Mouth defects

    - congenital defects in mouth conformity can make it difficult to swallow and lead to excess saliva.

  • Kidney Failure or Hepatic encephalopathy

    - both of these systemic failures will cause excessive salivation.

  • Disorder of the salivary glands

    - abscess or inflammation of the salivary glands can sometimes cause excessive salivation.

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Diagnosis of Ptyalism in Dogs

It’s important to rule out rabies before attempting any examination, but this is relatively easy if your dog has been vaccinated and isn’t exhibiting any other rabies symptoms. Once this possibility has been ruled out, the veterinarian will perform an oral exam on an office visit. If your dogs has no other signs of ill health, the veterinarian will also check for irritation of the mouth or throat, tumors, inflamed saliva glands and other local causes.

If no local cause is found, or if there are other signs the veterinarian will perform further tests to check for infectious diseases or other systemic problems. Pay attention to when your dog produces excessive saliva, and try to look for patterns or triggering causes. Check for other signs such as lack of appetite, increased thirst, vomiting, or diarrhea. Supporting signs can often be important for an accurate diagnosis.

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Treatment of Ptyalism in Dogs

Cleanse your dog’s mouth with an antiseptic solution and keep the skin as dry as possible until you can seek treatment. Salivation accompanied by other serious symptoms or foaming at the mouth should be treated as an emergency since it can be the result of poisoning or severe allergic reaction. Most other types can be treated on an office visit at your earliest convenience.

If there is a foreign object in your dog’s mouth, it can usually be removed in a single appointment. Medication may be prescribed to help heal cuts or scrapes inside the mouth, as well as throat infections that lead to problems swallowing. These are usually easy to treat and clear up quickly.

Inflamed and abscessed salivary glands can also often be treated with medication. Occasionally removal of the gland may be necessary. Tonsillitis and more serious issues like tumors may also require surgery. This will generally be minor surgery, but there is always a certain amount of risk as well as recovery time. Congenital mouth defects will most likely not be modified with surgery unless they create a serious problem.

If the excessive salivation is due to kidney failure or an infectious disease, it will depend on the severity of the condition and the degree to which it has progressed. Advanced conditions may be difficult to treat or dialysis may be required in the case of kidney failure.

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Recovery of Ptyalism in Dogs

Most local causes for excessive salivation can be treated, and your dog will make a full recovery. If the salivation is due to intense emotions, it is likely part of your dog’s personality and will not be treatable. It can be managed however with good hygiene. Salivation due to motion sickness can also be managed by limiting car rides as well as adjusting the dog’s position and opening windows. Medication can be prescribed before long car rides.

Monitor your dog’s mouth closely for foreign objects as well as cuts and scrapes to catch any problems as soon as possible. If poisoning or allergic reaction was the issue, take steps to prevent the situation from recurring. Most other sources of excessive salivation are difficult to prevent, but, with regular monitoring, they can be recognized early and treated.

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Ptyalism Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,500

Average Cost

$500

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Written by a Pugs lover Grace Park

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Published: 01/25/2016, edited: 04/05/2021

Ptyalism Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Rat Terrier

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One Week

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Constant Crying Excessive Salivation

Is drooling normal this early on and what can I do to help

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is okay. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment that might be needed.

Oct. 24, 2020

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Golden Doodle

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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Cold/Cool Drooling, Liquid Stool, And He Vomited Twice A Few Weeks Ago

when we picked him up, when we first got him, he vomited twice on the way home, we thought it was him being car sick, but then his stool has been really liquid-ey, and now i’ve noticed in the car he’s been drooling a lot and it’s been kind of a cool temperature it feels like, which made me curious. we’ve had him about 2 weeks and i’m just worried something is wrong and need to know if i need to go see a vet or what

Sept. 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello If your pup is having vomiting and diarrhea, I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam. They may want to check him for parvo or for worms. Good luck.

Sept. 16, 2020

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Dachshund

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Two Years

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hyper Salivation

My Dachshund breed was quite upset from last one week with hyper salivation

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Hypersalivation can be caused by anxiety, nausea, or pain. If the problem persists with your dog, it would probably be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your dog and see what might be going on. If the problem resolved and it seems to be a short-term problem then you may be fine to continue to monitor. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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One Year

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Saliva

Yesterday my dog started leaving spots of drool around the house. This morning I noticed her bed was completely wet from saliva. She’s otherwise the same happy energetic dog and still eating and drinking as normal. What could be wrong with her?

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello Your pet could be drooling excessively due to a dental or oral issue. Perhaps she has a loose tooth or a lesion on her gums. I recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam so they can look around in her mouth and see if there is anything abnormal. Good luck.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Pug

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Five Months

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Heavy Drooling And Gagging Like Trying To Cough Up Furball

Is she going to be on

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to see her, I'm not sure if she is okay, but drooling can be a sign of nausea, and in a 5 month old puppy, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They can examine her, check for parasites or disease, and give her treatment as needed. I hope that she is okay!

July 25, 2020

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Blue

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Labrador Retriever

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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Lethargy

For the third year in a row starting in mid-August thru October, my 9 yr old, male black English lab has had episodes of hypersalivation, which is followed by bouts of diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. The drooling can last as long as 5-6 hours along with diarrhea. We have tried Metronidazole for 10 days, 450mg; omeprazole for 14 days, 2 pills/day; cerenia for nausea and Dramamine- nothing seems to make a difference. He is on prescription Z/D food. During the episodes we starve him out, then small meals of rice and chicken or rice and canned prescription food. We have done every test, possible diagnosis of IBD or IBS. No one can answer. Would a dermatologist be able to better diagnosis or identify allergy? it is entirely seasonal.

Ptyalism Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,500

Average Cost

$500

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Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

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