Dogs might drool when they're in pain.
Dogs might drool when they're in pain. Photography ©fongleon356 | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Dog Drooling — Is Your Dog’s Drooling Normal or Not?

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Dog drooling can be completely normal or a sign of a serious health problem. So, how do you know if your dog’s drooling is normal or if you need to worry? First, consider whether drooling is typical for your dog.

When is dog drooling normal? Your dog’s breed may play a role.

Certain dog breeds drool more than others.
Certain dog breeds drool more than others. Photography ©itchySan | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Some dogs drool and others don’t. Of the dogs that drool, some drool a lot and some drool just a little. Some breeds like Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards are known for drooling, but dogs of almost any breed may drool from time to time.

Dog drooling is normal when dogs are anticipating something.

Dog drooling is also normal when it occurs as your dog is waiting in anticipation of something he really likes.

“I have Labradors and they drool often in anticipation for eating, playing or retrieving,” says Tracey Jensen, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, medical director at Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Wellington, Colorado. “That drooling is a part of their personalities. It’s something they’ve always done, it’s infrequent and it correlates with something they’re anticipating.”

When is dog drooling not normal? Anxiety could be a factor. 

Some dogs drool when they are nervous or anxious, even if they don’t typically drool. This type of drooling is often accompanied by panting and possibly trembling or other signs of nervousness. If your dog is drooling from anxiety, the drooling should stop once you remove the stressor.

Dogs may drool when they’re in pain. 

Dogs might drool when they're in pain.
Dogs might drool when they’re in pain. Photography ©fongleon356 | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

If your dog never drools or rarely drools, and you notice him drooling all of a sudden in the absence of a stressful situation, it could be a sign of pain (for instance, pain in the mouth or pain in the throat). In these cases, the drooling occurs because the dog doesn’t want to swallow the saliva in his mouth because it’s painful.

Oral pain might be caused by dental issues like periodontal disease, tooth infections or broken teeth, or by tumors in the mouth or throat area. Sometimes, dogs might get things like sticks or pieces of toys caught in their teeth or even embedded in the roof of the mouth, and this can cause pain and drooling as well.

Nausea might also make a dog drool.

Nausea is another common reason dogs drool. Again, they don’t want to swallow the saliva, so they just let it fall out of their mouths instead. If your dog drools in the car, he might be carsick. Other times, dogs become nauseous from stomach upset or some other gastrointestinal issue, or from another health problem.

“Any number of things outside of the gastrointestinal tract can cause a dog to be nauseous, including kidney disease and liver disease,” Dr. Jensen says. “The equivalent of vertigo in dogs can also cause dogs to be nauseous.”

Ingesting something toxic can cause dog drooling.

Finally, dogs can drool abnormally if they ingest something toxic like a poisonous plant, pesticide, chemical or toxic food. Dogs who are drooling because of a toxin usually have other serious signs like vomiting or diarrhea, shaking, seizures, bruising, bleeding or extreme lack of energy. Contact a vet ASAP.

What to do about dog drooling. 

If you notice your dog drooling and it isn’t part of his normal behavior, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to get him checked out as soon as you can. (Again, if you think your dog might have consumed something toxic, seek immediate veterinary attention.)

“Starting with the physical exam, [vets] will look for any indication of oral pain,” Dr. Jensen explains. “They may want to run simple laboratory tests to make sure that there are not any internal causes of nausea and they may want to do some imaging of the abdomen and even the throat area looking for anything that would cause them to not want to swallow.”

Tell us: Does your dog drool? What’s the usual culprit for his dog drooling?

Thumbnail: Photography ©fongleon356 | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Read more about dog health on Dogster.com:

7 thoughts on “Dog Drooling — Is Your Dog’s Drooling Normal or Not?”

  1. Pingback: 25 Very Serious Dog Health Symptoms That You Should Never Ignore

  2. Pingback: Dog Anxiety Or Pain – Dog Anxiety Symptoms

  3. I’m glad I came across this article that mentions that if a dog will not swallow saliva might be caused by oral pain. I’ve noticed excessive saliva on my neighbor’s pup. This information must be addressed to my neighbor so he can take that canine to a veterinarian for a diagnose.

  4. Rebecca Bailey

    I wish I had known that my dog’s excessive drooling was a sign of lymphoma. I was devastated at the diagnosis.

  5. I loved your article about dog drooling and have posted it on my blog. I gave the author and the magazine credit as my intention is not to steal someone’s work but to share education to others.

    1. Hi Karen,

      Thanks so much! Could you please share the link? We love when people or other publications share our pieces, but we need to make sure the pieces are shared with the first paragraph or two, then linked out to the entire piece on our site.

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