Does your dog produce lakes of drool on floors, bedding, and laps where his head has been? Have you considered purchasing a bib for this furry baby who seems to dribble uncontrollably? Some canine breeds cannot control how much they drool, but for others, drooling can also be a sign of a health problem. Find out the reasons why dogs drool a river, and what you can do to quell the saliva storm in your home.
Your dog's upper lips are called flews. His flews drape over his upper teeth and should meet the lower lips to form a seal when his mouth is closed. In several canine breeds, the flews are large, loose and pendulous, hanging below the lower lips on each side. This means that the mouth is not sealed when his mouth appears to be closed, and the saliva has an easy exit from your dog's mouth. Some breeds that possess this anatomical structure include the following:
- English bulldogs
- St. Bernards
- Great Danes
- Great Pyrenees
If you own one of these breeds, you may have noticed that there seems to be almost as much fluid in the water bowl after he takes a drink as there was to start with. You have probably also lamented the slobbery mess that gets left behind on the floor around the bowl. He can't help it. To best understand his drinking problem, remember your last visit to the dentist's office. When your mouth was numbed and you were instructed to rinse and spit, it wasn't so easy, was it? Alternately, have you ever tried to drink while keeping your mouth partly ajar? Some of that water will be swallowed, but the rest of it is going to dribble out through the nearest exit, which is your parted lips.
Certain triggers and emotions can prompt any dog's drool faucet to start flowing. A famous example of this was evidenced in Pavlov's experiment in which he could get a dog drooling simply by ringing a bell once the dog had learned that food was forthcoming whenever the bell was sounded. The bell was the stimulus that led to the dog's emotional state and the response of drooling. Some dogs will drool when they experience these emotions:
- Anticipation of food
- Stress or anxiety
Once the emotion has been alleviated, the hypersalivation should cease. If your dog picks up the daily cues that you are about to prepare and serve his dinner, he may drool at the prospect of his tasty meal. Once he has eaten, he is satiated and the drooling subsides until the next mealtime. If he gets excited every afternoon as you get ready to greet his favorite little family member at the school bus stop, he may get excited to see his human friend. Once the child is home and settled down with homework, your dog's drooling stops as he calms down.
If your dog normally does not hypersalivate and has recently begun to leave drool puddles, it is time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination. Excessive drooling can be a sign of a health condition that needs to be addressed. Some medical causes of hypersalivation include the following:
- Oral pain that results from periodontal disease or an injured tooth
- Oral infections, cysts, and tumors
- Foreign objects lodged in the mouth
- Toxicity, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires urgent veterinary care
- Heatstroke, a life-threatening condition that requires an immediate visit to an animal hospital
- Bloat, another life-threatening condition that requires immediate emergency veterinary care
If your dog reserves his drooling solely for car rides, this is an indication that he experiences motion sickness.
If your dog happens to be one of the breeds that are predisposed to drooling as a result of their genetic anatomical structure, there is little that can be done to curb the salivation. You can reduce other causes of drooling by following these tips:
- Keep all toxic substances out of your dog's reach.
- Practice a home dental care routine to prevent periodontal disease.
- Follow a regular examination schedule for your dog as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Keep your dog in a cool environment during periods of warm weather.
- Do not overexert your dog with exercise.
- Acclimate your dog gradually to riding in the car.
- Limit your dog's exposure to situations that trigger anxiety or excitement.
When guests come by, keep your dog in another room until they have settled in, and then bring your dog on a leash to greet them calmly. You can also keep a pile of drool rags handy for good measure as you wipe away messes and remember all of the reasons why you fell in love with your lovable slob, no matter how much he slobbers.