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11/12/2021

Ew, Slobbers!

Let’s face it… a lot of what a dog does is just gross. I mean, I just hate it when…

Let’s face it… a lot of what a dog does is just gross. I mean, I just hate it when my furbaby acts like a dog… the sniffing of inappropriate things, the tasting of same, the “cleaning” of their privates… It’s nasty, but hey, we love them! We put up with it out of love. But I must admit, there is one thing I don’t think I could stand… a slobbery dog. Don’t get me wrong, I would cross a line of heavy traffic just to pet a slobbery dog, but to have one in my home? I just don’t think I could.

We have a lot of adorable, slobbery guests at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. How can you not want to sink your hands into that fur and kiss the noggen of a drooling St. Bernard?! Or how about those slobbery mastiffs, the newfies… oh my goodness, they’re just so squishable. I don’t mind those lines of thick goo across my clothes, or slung on the walls, or in my hair – because I am at work and it’s expected. I have to wonder, though, how do people who have these dogs who slobber in their homes keep their houses clean? And keep themselves clean, for that matter?

Have you ever wondered why certain dogs drool or slobber like they do? It’s because of their facial structure. While all dogs produce saliva, these dogs just can’t keep all that liquid in their mouth. Sometimes the skin around their mouth is just too loose to retain liquid (think boxers, st. bernards, or bloodhounds, aka “slobberhounds”. No kidding!). You’ve seen it, I’m sure. Sometimes their jaws are too deep, or the corners of their mouths turn down so the liquid just kind-of spills out (think newfies). When stimulated, like after a drink, or it’s hot outside, or maybe the anticipation of a treat… it’s no holds barred. You’re gonna get wet!

But enough about big slobbery dogs… it’s all normal. Drool towels, drool bibs (and some stain remover) and you’re set. Let’s talk about when slobber or excessive drooling in your dog is not normal.

Why do dogs drool?

If your dog is not one of the typical drooling breeds, hypersalivation, or excessive salivation, is not normal. In fact, it can be very concerning. Veterinarians often refer to the overproduction of saliva as “ptyalism”. There are way too many reasons for ptyalism than we can cover here, but we will try to cover the more common causes. Nevertheless, if drooling is not typical for your breed, we suggest you contact your veterinarian.

Upset stomach

If you’re a long-time dog owner, no doubt you’ve experienced the slobbering that is brought on by nausea. If your dog is sick to its stomach, he may drool excessively just prior to vomiting. We humans salivate before we get sick too. Chances are that your dog will clear its stomach of the irritating contents one or two times and it’s over. If your dog acts distressed, perhaps lethargic or restless, or shows signs of abdominal pain, there could be a more serious gastrointestinal issue. Your dog may have ingested something it shouldn’t have or may be suffering from bloat. Immediate veterinary intervention is needed if you notice any of these symptoms in addition to excessive drooling.

Did your dog ingest a foreign object?

Dogs will be dogs, and some will chew on or put anything in their mouth. Nationwide Pet Insurance reports that ingesting foreign objects is one of its most common claims by policyholders.

I’ll never forget the day my beagle came to me drooling excessively (while wagging his tail, BTW). I opened his mouth and saw a thick wire – the thickness of a clothes-hanger wire – lodged in the back near his throat. I was able to get him to the veterinarian right away, and once the wire was removed, Otis acted like nothing had happened, while I nearly passed out. My sweet, silly pup was so accident-prone.

Teeth and mouth

Another common reason why a dog may drool more than usual is because of oral or dental problems. It may be as simple as a broken tooth. Tartar build-up, tooth decay, dental disease, inflammation of the gums, can all cause the salivary glands to work overtime.

It is also possible that there is a growth or tumor inside the dog’s mouth. There are several types of oral tumors. Whether they are cancerous or noncancerous, growths or tumors inside the mouth seem to be more prevalent these days, especially in older dogs. In fact, the Animal Cancer and Imaging Center in Michigan reports that the annual incidence of oral cancer in dogs is 20 per 100,000. One of the first symptoms that a growth is developing is drooling. Many of these tumors are known to spread rapidly. Drooling, possibly accompanied by exhibited pain upon chewing, bad breath, or tooth loss are other signs that a tumor may be present. Contact your veterinarian at the first sign of mouth discomfort in your dog.

Upper respiratory infection

What happens when we get a cold? Our body begins to over-produce mucus. Although mucus is organically different from saliva, mucus does contain saliva. Upper respiratory infections can cause excessive salivation in dogs. Any infection of the sinuses, the nose, or the throat can cause a dog to drool. Similarly, a dog that suffers from allergies can also produce excessive saliva.

Rabies

I am sure everyone reading this has their dogs vaccinated against rabies. Not only is it a law, but it’s essential to our dog’s health. But I would be remiss if I did not mention that a dog with rabies will salivate or drool excessively. It is because the rabies virus has progressed to the point where the dog is unable to control their muscles and thus are incapable of swallowing. Many people will refer to this as “foaming at the mouth”. Foam or “froth” is nothing more than air (probably from panting) mixed with saliva.

Poisoning

Poisoning can take many forms. If a dog is exposed to or ingests insecticides, animal venom, toxic chemicals or plants, noxious fumes, medications or even an insect bite, they may begin to drool excessively. Sometimes the drooling is out of fear or stress. The salivary glands could also be overstimulated because of the caustic, sour taste of what has been ingested. Finally, the drooling may be a precursor to vomiting. Regardless, if your dog is drooling excessively or suddenly and you think they may have been poisoned, the situation can be life-threatening. Call your veterinarian or a poison control hotline for immediate instructions.

Less common reasons for drooling

Neurological problems, salivary gland dysfunction, and swallowing disorders are some other reasons a dog may hypersalivate. Dogs with liver or kidney disease may also salivate excessively. They do this because their body is trying to rid itself of the metabolic toxins that the organs are unable to clear.

Lastly, drooling can be a concern during the hot summer months as a dog may be overheated. While it’s true that dogs drool more when they’re hot, if it is accompanied by disorientation or lethargy, increased heart rate, and deep rapid panting, they may be in danger of a heat stroke.

So, what’s in that stuff?

According to the Massive Science website, doggie saliva contains an assortment of antimicrobial enzymes, proteins such as lysozymes and immunoglobulins, and antimicrobial peptides. Wow, that’s almost as good for you as yogurt, right? Furthermore, studies have shown that enzymes in dog saliva can kill E. coli and Streptococcus canis bacteria. History cites that the ancient Egyptians believed that a dog’s lick could actually heal wounds.

Still, to err on the side of caution, I would heed mom’s advice to not let the dog lick you in the mouth. The truth is, dogs carry some zoonotic (germs that spread from animals to humans) pathogens in their saliva that can cause disease. Most healthy people that are licked by a dog will be fine, however, anyone with a compromised immune system may become sick from a dog’s saliva.

Remember the old adage, ”A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth”? Is it true? Well, that depends on what you want to believe. PetMD says no, it’s not true. The AKC says it is not true. Enclopedia.com says, well, it “can’t really be determined”. And an associate of mine did the experiment and she says yes, a dog’s mouth is cleaner. The petri dish proved it!

So, should we swear off doggie kisses? No way… we love doggie kisses at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts! Just remember, there is a safe way to enjoy your dog’s affection. Be careful not to let your dog’s saliva come in contact with your own mucus membranes – mouth, nose, eyes. These are the most common areas where pathogens enter our system. Stop your dog if they begin licking a cut or scratch on your body. And then be sure to wash up after a kissing session.

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