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Just like barking or chasing squirrels, drooling is absolutely normal for dogs. it’s part of the canine package. But then, when it becomes excessive, it could be worrisome. Excessive drooling, also known as ptylism or hypersalivation is one of the worst problems for some dog owners.

Excessive drooling caused by too much saliva in the mouth is not normal and can be a sign of a serious condition. There are a number of different causes for ptylism or excessive saliva production in dogs. Some can be local issues in the mouth or throat, while others are more systemic disorders. Rabies can cause excessive salivation, so it’s important to eliminate that possibility before seeking other treatment.

Certain dog breeds are notorious for being slobbery. This includes Saint Bernards, Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, and other jowly canines. This is considered “typical” drooling, because it isn’t caused by any kind of health problem.

Rather, it occurs because the breeds’ head and lip conformation cannot hold in all the saliva, which becomes trapped in the folds of the extra skin they have around their lips and muzzle. When they drink, water can also get stuck in these folds. If your dog is one of these breeds, have a drool rag handy at all times!

So if your dog has been, or is drooling profusely, please talk to your own vet for advice. They can then decide if an appointment is needed to examine your pet and take the best care of your dog

Reasons for Excessive Drooling in a Dog

A variety of reasons can cause a dog that doesn’t normally drool to begin profusely salivating. These reasons for hypersalivation may be temporary and unconcerning, or indication that your dog needs veterinary care:

  • Heat stroke
  • Poison
  • Foreign body in the mouth
  • Dental problems (like an abscessed tooth)
  • Nausea or painful abdomen
  • Cancer in the mouth
  • A contagious disease that does not allow him to swallow—think rabies first!
  • Hunger

Other less common causes include portosystemic shunt, myasthenia gravis, and polymyositis.

Symptoms of Excessive Drooling in Dogs

  • Loss of appetite – seen most often in dogs with oral lesions, gastrointestinal disease, and systemic disease
  • Eating behavior changes – dogs with oral disease or cranial nerve dysfunction may refuse to eat hard food, not chew on the affected side (patients with unilateral lesions), hold the head in an unusual position while eating, or drop food
  • Other behavioral changes – irritability, aggressiveness, and reclusiveness are common, especially in dogs with a painful condition
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation – in dogs with esophageal disease
  • Vomiting – secondary to gastrointestinal or systemic disease
  • Pawing at the face or muzzle – dogs with oral discomfort or pain

Treatment of Excessive Drooling in Dogs

The treatment will depend on the cause. That said, we aren’t always able to identify the exact cause.

If we find a happy dog, who can eat fine and seems normal in other respects, we may not do anything more than suggest watchful waiting.

If the cause is identified, treating it would be first and the excess salivation should resolve. Rarely is specific medication to reduce saliva production.


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