Dogs drool when they see food, and some dogs also drool when they are excited, scared, or nervous.
Dogs with heavy lips such as St. Bernards tend to drool more than other breeds of dogs because the loose skin around their mouths acts like a “pouch” that collects saliva until it overflows, resulting in drooling.
Excessive drooling in dogs is called “hypersalivation”.
If your dog is normally a heavy “drooler”, there is nothing to be worried about. You just have to deal with the problem by tying a highly-absorbent bandana around his neck!
But, any change in your dog’s usual drooling may be a sign that something is wrong.
For example, when a dog who usually does not drool suddenly drools excessively, then it is likely that he has some health issue that needs to be looked into.
Below are some of the possible causes of excessive dog drooling.
Problems Inside a Dog’s Mouth that Cause Drooling
Very often, excessive dog drooling is the result of something or some disease inside the dog’s mouth. If your dog suddenly drools a lot, use a flashlight to examine his mouth carefully.
To prop his mouth open, use a tennis ball or similar object. Things that can cause a dog to drool excessively include:
A dog will drool profusely if some foreign object (e.g. bone fragment, a piece of string, fish hook, etc.) is stuck in the gums or the tongue, or caught between the teeth.
If you find a foreign object in your dog’s mouth but are unable to remove it, seek veterinary help immediately.
An Abscessed Tooth
Tooth abscesses are extremely painful – pain causes a dog to drool.
A dog with an abscessed tooth will also show other signs such as fever, reluctance to eat, and depression.
You may find pus oozing around the abscessed tooth if you examine the dog’s teeth. If the tooth is the upper fourth premolar, you will also see swelling of the face below the eye.
If you suspect your dog’s drooling is caused by an abscessed tooth, take him to the vet immediately.
Periodontitis is an inflammation of the deeper structures supporting the teeth. It develops as a continuation of gingivitis. This disease is very painful causing the dog to drool.
The dog will also have bad breath, swollen and bleeding gums. Because of the pain, he may refuse to eat and drop food from his mouth. Periodontitis needs immediate veterinary care.
Tumors that occur in a dog’s mouth (e.g. melanoma) can also cause a dog to drool excessively. Other signs of mouth tumors include bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, and difficulty eating.
As you can see, problems in the mouth usually cause a dog to drool excessively. If you cannot determine the exact cause, consult a veterinarian as mouth diseases are painful and can be serious.
Other Causes of Excessive Dog Drooling
Problems and diseases in other parts of the body can also cause dog drooling excessively. For example:
If your dog has been out in the sun for a long time, and he starts panting and drooling, he may be suffering from heat stroke which is potentially life-threatening.
Other symptoms of heat stroke includes thick saliva, vomiting, and a bright red tongue. The rectal temperature can go up to 104°F to 110°F.
Heat stroke is an emergency and requires immediate treatment.
Dogs drool when they are in pain.
Unfortunately, many different health problems can cause pain, such as digestive problems (e.g. colitis, gastritis, IBD, etc.), bloating, poisoning (e.g. antifreeze, food poisoning, insecticides, etc.), traumas and injuries.
Other problems that cause pain include infections such as ear infections, eye problems (such as glaucoma), anal gland impactions, and more.
If possible, try to find out the source of pain and determine if it is a serious problem. If it is, or if you cannot determine what causes the pain, don’t wait. Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Some dogs suffer from motion sickness while traveling by car. They feel nausea and as a result will drool profusely.
If your dog suffers from motion sickness, try giving him some ginger (e.g. ginger cookies) or ginger tea.
Foreign Objects in Esophagus
Sometimes foreign objects (e.g. bone splinters, small toys, fish hooks, etc.) may get stuck in a dog’s esophagus, causing the dog to suddenly gag, retch, drool, as well as regurgitate.
If your dog suddenly drools and gags, and also has difficulty swallowing for a few days, there may be a partial obstruction of the esophagus by a foreign object. Get him to a vet immediately since the esophagus may get perforated if the foreign object is sharp.
Dogs suffering from hepatic encephalopathy may also drool excessively. Hepatic encephalopathy is a liver disease in which the liver fails to remove excessive ammonia from the body, resulting in a type of brain dysfunction.
Other signs associated with this liver disease include incoordination and disorientation, weakness, and behavioral change.
Hepatic encephalopathy is a serious health condition and should be treated by a veterinarian without delay.
Rabies also causes sudden excessive drooling due to paralysis of the muscles used for swallowing.
Other signs associated with rabies include irrational behavior, e.g. aggressiveness, incoordination and disorientation.
Since dogs are required to be vaccinated against rabies, it is fortunately rather rare recently for dogs to get this fatal disease.
Since there are many painful problems and diseases that can cause dog drooling, if you cannot find out the underlying cause, be sure to see a vet to avoid causing your dog unnecessary and prolonged suffering.