Doggie Issues – Drooling

(IMAGE: The Daily Top)

Drool. Slobber. It’s gross – but it’s also a part of life for many dogs (and their owners). And the very best dog grooming in the world can’t make drooling attractive!

Why do some dogs drool so much? And is there anything you can do to minimise it?


Ptyalism is the scientific term for excessive salivation. Almost all dogs will drool at some point, especially if they are excited, happy, or anticipating an imminent treat. It’s a normal physiological response that lubricates the dog’s mouth, begins the breakdown of food for digestion, makes swallowing easier, and prevents gum disease and tooth decay.

When drooling is excessive, however, it is a problem. It can be caused by an issue in the mouth or throat, or by a problem elsewhere in the body. (It’s also a symptom of rabies, which fortunately is still not a problem in Australia).

Excessive drooling and salivation occurs when the salivary glands produce too much saliva and the dog can’t swallow it all. It can also occur if the dog is having an issue which prevents swallowing. This can result in irritation and inflammation of the dog’s lips and mouth.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, he needs to be seen by your vet as soon as possible:

  • Drooling without apparent cause
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Saliva/drool is foamy
  • Lips or mouth are inflamed or sore
  • Refusal to eat
  • Behavioural changes
  • Drooling accompanied by sudden symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, etc.

Causes of Ptyalism in Dogs

There are many, many causes of excessive salivation and drooling; these may include:

  • A foreign object like a stone, bone or stick stuck in the mouth
  • Oral injuries such as bites or scrapes
  • Dental issues
  • Traumatic response
  • Motion sickness in a car, etc
  • Throat blockage or sore tonsils
  • Allergic reactions
  • Poisoning
  • Distemper
  • Snakebite
  • Seizures
  • Benign or cancerous growths or tumours of the mouth or salivary glands
  • Defects in oral anatomy
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver issues
  • Heatstroke
  • Anxiety

Drooly Breeds

Some dog breeds are more renowned for being droolers. This is genetic. Some of the biggest droolers include the Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Neapolitan Mastiff, Newfoundland, and Schnoodle.


Your vet can offer a diagnosis and advice for dealing with excessive drooling. Distinct causes will be treated with medication and possibly minor surgery. Most localised causes of excessive salivation can be treated so the dog makes a full recovery.

Additionally, practice good hygiene, regular dog grooming and teeth cleaning, and if your dog suffers from motion sickness, limit car rides or use anti-nausea medication from your vet.



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