Vet Blog

Is Doggy Drool Natural or a Red Flag?

July 07, 2021

What do bulldogs, mastiffs, Saint Bernards, and Bernese mountain dogs all have in common (besides, you know, being awesome)?

They drool-a lot! Excessive salivation helps these breeds chew and swallow food, but doggy drool also keeps the mouth wet, adding to effective temperature regulation. In other words, it's a good thing. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most dogs. In fact, uncharacteristic doggy drool can be indicative of certain health problems.

Something to Talk About

Doggy drool might not be something you're excited to think about, but if you've recently gotten a smooch from your pup you've got a front-row seat to the show. It simply goes with the territory of dog ownership, right?

A couple of cool facts about canine saliva include:

  • With a pH around 7.5-8, doggy drool is considered alkaline. This means that their saliva can protect the teeth from enamel-eroding acids made by some bacteria. Protection against dental cavities? You bet!
  • While not a substitute for prescription antibiotics, canine saliva does have antibacterial properties. This doesn't mean you should let them go crazy on wounds, but it's kind of a neat property.

The Nitty-Gritty

Now that we know that canine saliva is something to sort of celebrate, it's equally important to understand that uncharacteristic drooling or hypersalivation can signal trouble. Sudden or unexpected doggy drool is a symptom of serious illness.

Starting With the Obvious

Problems in the mouth can cause excessive salivation. Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by an accumulation of plaque and tartar. A quick lip flip can clue you into possible infections or developing diseases. Swollen or bleeding gums, bad breath, and extra saliva are indicators that an exam is necessary.

Linked to Behavior

Hypersalivation is a key symptom of toxic overload. If your dog was lingering in a garden bed, rifling through a backpack, or sniffing around the garage, they could have been exposed to toxic substances. Plants, chemicals, human foods, and medications can all cause a dog to drool. Please seek help for this pet emergency.

Other Stressors

A dog suddenly subjected to a stressful situation, like isolation, unfamiliar company, or similar unanticipated events may drool in response to their anxiety. There are many ways you can help your pup cope with change, and we're happy to discuss these with you if other medical problems are ruled out.

Did We Mention Body Temperature?

As mentioned, saliva can help dogs regulate their body temperature. However, excessive drooling can be a dangerous sign of heatstroke. Dogs that have shorter snouts or a previously diagnosed breathing problem may have trouble with airflow. This is especially dangerous in high heat and humidity, and should never be ignored. Provide them with shade, cool water, and rest to bring the internal temperature down, and be prepared to seek emergency help if it doesn't go down.

More to Doggy Drool

Foreign body obstruction, kidney or liver disease, medication-induced nausea, and rabies can cause a dog to hypersalivation. Because there are so many potential reasons for this symptom, it's a good idea to have them checked out. Any departure from your dog's routine is a cause for concern.

As always, we ask that you call us at (301) 249-2005 with any questions or concerns about doggy drool and canine behavior.

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