Drooling
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

Drooling in DogsMany dogs will drool, for multiple reasons. The medical term for excessive production of saliva is 'pytalism.' Drooling may also be called 'hypersalivation.'

What causes drooling in dogs?

The excess saliva seen in drooling may be caused by an overproduction of saliva or a reluctance or inability to swallow. Drooling in dogs may be associated with the following:

  • Dental disease such as gingivitis or periodontal disease
  • Other diseases of the mouth such as oral ulcers or a foreign body in the mouth
  • Nausea or pain associated with gastrointestinal disease
  • Motion sickness
  • If rabies is a possible cause of drooling, always wear protective gloves and seek medical attention for your pet immediately
    Kidney disease
  • Liver disease (especially hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Salivary gland disease
  • Heatstroke (hyperthermia)
  • Receiving medications with a bitter taste
  • Ingestion of something caustic or irritating
  • Biting or ingesting certain toads
  • Anticipation of a meal or treat (Pavlov response)
  • Inability to swallow caused by rabies, tetanus, other neuromuscular disease (eg., facial nerve paralysis, certain types of epilepsy), foreign body in the esophagus, or other condition
  • Other esophageal diseases
  • Separation anxiety or other cause of nervousness
  • Certain mouth conformations seen in some dogs, such as Saint Bernards

How is the cause of drooling determined?

A complete history, oral exam and physical exam are necessary in determining the cause of drooling. A thorough oral exam may require sedation or general anesthesia. A chemistry panel and CBC would be performed if liver or kidney disease was suspected. Radiographs (x-rays), a barium study, ultrasound, or endoscopy may be indicated in some cases.

How is drooling treated?

Treatments for drooling in dogs will differ significantly based upon the cause of the drooling, that is why the proper diagnosis is so important. If your dog is drooling for some reason other than anticipation of a meal or due to his mouth conformation, have him examined by your veterinarian.

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