What is Drooling?
Drooling will typically happen in dogs as they seek to cool themselves down. Dogs with big or open lips (like Boxers or Bloodhounds) typically have even more drool than average. In dogs, saliva will accumulate in their cheek pouches and when they shake their heads, out will come the drool.
Drooling is typically not a big deal, though should your dog be drooling more than they usually would, or suddenly during time in the heat, it may require further investigating. More drooling than usual or drooling in a dog that typically does not drool can be a symptom of the following:
- Dental problems
- A health problem that causes difficulty in swallowing like a neurological condition
- Mouth irritation
- Heat stroke
How serious your dog’s drooling is will depend on whether there is an underlying condition causing it to occur and what that condition is. Mouth irritation in your dog may be relatively minor, while a neurological problem and heat stroke are more severe.
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Why Drooling Occurs in Dogs
Why your dog is drooling will depend on the reason it is occurring. For example:
Some dogs will drool more when they are nervous. They may become nervous during a trip to the vet, as the result of a loud noise, a new person or pet in their home, or another reason.
If your dog has periodontal disease or tooth abscesses, it may lead to him drooling, especially if he has not drooled much in the past.
A Health Problem that is Causing Trouble Swallowing
- A neurological condition can lead to the facial nerves of your dog to not function, which would cause him to have trouble swallowing.
- Kidney and liver disease
- A blockage of some sort, possibly in the esophagus, could also hinder swallowing
Additional symptoms like gagging or retching will require urgent attention.
Your dog’s mouth could become irritated if he got into something that is not safe; electrical wire could cause electrical burns, for example. He may also chew a poisonous plant that leads to irritation. Should you notice ongoing drooling and/or repeated pawing at the mouth, you will want to visit your veterinarian.
Heat stroke may occur when your dog spends a lot of time in the heat. His drooling will be in an effort to cool himself down. If you observe panting and fatigue, move your dog into the shade or air conditioning right away. You will also want to offer him a drink of cool water. Should your dog be struggling to breathe take him to the veterinarian immediately.
What to do if your Dog is Drooling
If you notice that your dog is drooling more than usual or is drooling when he usually doesn’t drool, you will want to consider a few things. If there is any reason that your dog can be experiencing anxiety, it may be leading to his drooling. You can take steps to alleviate the anxiety he is experiencing; for example, make sure he is getting enough exercise and if there are new people or animals in the home, make sure he is receiving enough attention.
Should it be very hot and your dog has been outdoors for some time, it is possible his drooling is the result of heat stroke. You will want to look out for panting and fatigue as well as whether he is breathing well or struggling to do so. After offering him cool water, getting him into the shade or air conditioning, and wetting his body to help him cool down, you can contact your veterinarian and possibly bring your dog in for an examination.
Should anxiety or heat not be a factor, it is a good idea to take your dog to the veterinarian so that he can be examined and your veterinarian can determine if there are any physical health issues that are leading to his increased drooling. Your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination that includes his mouth. While looking closely at his mouth, your veterinarian will determine if there is any irritation present as well as if your dog has any periodontal disease or abscesses. If irritation is present, your veterinarian may recommend further testing to determine what is causing it.
If the physical examination points to a health condition that is getting in the way of your dog swallowing, your veterinarian will likely recommend additional testing in order to make a diagnosis. A complete blood count (CBC) and serum chemistry profile are often conducted, particularly if kidney or liver disease is suspected. Should your veterinarian be concerned about an obstruction in your dog’s esophagus, he may look at the color of your dog’s bile to determine the pH level to understand if your dog is vomiting or regurgitating. Thoracic radiographs and fluoroscopy may also be used. If a neurological condition is suspected, MRI scans, X-rays and ultrasounds may help show any abnormalities that are in the brain or spinal cord.
Prevention of Drooling
Preventing heat stroke in your dog is relatively simple. When it is hot outside, if you are planning to leave your dog out, make sure he has plenty of shade as well as cool water to drink. You will also want to avoid too much activity when the weather is particularly warm. If you are leaving him in a warm place that is not outdoors, make sure that it is well-ventilated.
During an appointment with your veterinarian, ask about how you can best promote your dog’s dental health and follow the instructions that you are given. In order to avoid your dog getting a hold of something that can cause irritation in his mouth, make sure to check out the area where he will be spending time should you not be out there with him, to ensure that there is not anything that can cause problems in his mouth.
A well-rounded diet that provides your dog the nutrients he needs is key for his overall health, as is plenty of exercise and regular check-ups with your veterinarian, so that any concerns can be addressed early on before they become larger issues.
Cost of Drooling
The cost of treatment for drooling in your dog will depend upon the condition that is causing him to do so. In the case of anxiety, the cost will be minimal or none at all. Should your dog experience heat stroke, costs can be considerable, averaging around $5,000. The average cost of an obstruction in your dog’s esophagus is $2,500. Costs will vary based on the location where you are seeking treatment and its cost of living.