Is Drool Cool?
The first step to understanding the ooey gooey drool that drips from our dog’s lips is breed. Here at How I Met My Dog, we hate to categorize pups by breed but certain breeds of dog like Bloodhound’s, Newfoundland’s, Saint Bernard’s and Mastiff’s are more prone to drooling. These breeds and other scent hound breeds use their “flews” or large upper lips to trap smells and scent molecules. This aids these breeds in being the best at what they were bred to do, hunt! These droopy “flews” also increase saliva aka drool!
Normal, natural amounts of drool help your dog eat and also digest their food. If your dog has always drooled a bit during mealtime, play time or chew toy time, that’s OK! There’s no need to sound the alarm over drooling unless you notice an excessive amount of drool that seems abnormal for your dog or your dog is acting strange (shaking, lethargic, nauseous etc.) and drooling. If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, call your vet! They may be suffering from any number of issues that range in severity. Some of those issues are:
Mouth Disease/Tooth Decay
Does your pup have very bad breath and a drooling problem? They may be suffering from Tooth decay or mouth/gum disease. Just like humans, dogs need their mouth health monitored. In the wild, wolves, coyotes and other canine- like species have the tartar on their teeth naturally cleaned by hard objects, like bones, that they eat and chew on a regular basis. For our domesticated dogs, tartar build up can cause tooth decay, bad breath and drool. Pull back your dogs lips to check what their teeth and gums look like. If gums appear swollen or bloody or teeth look brown and decayed, bring your dog to the vet to discuss the severity of their mouth health and take action to make it better. A healthy mouth may mean less drool and less bad breath for your dog.
Dogs do not sweat, they pant. When your dog gets hot their tongue lolls out of their mouth and swells. This increase in surface area of the tongue allows heat to escape into the surrounding air and drool escapes with it. If your dog is panting and drooling excessively on a hot day, they may be experiencing symptoms of heat stroke. Heat stroke is VERY serious and can lead to death in a matter of minutes. To avoid heat stroke, provide plenty of water and keep an eye on your dog. If you’re out on a strenuous hike or intense play session, give your dog plenty of access to water and if they appear to be overheated or exhausted, give them a break. While dogs may not sweat like us, they build fitness the same way we do. If your dog is out of shape, work up to longer play sessions/walks/hikes in order to keep them feeling healthy and happy.
Motion Sickness/ Anxiety
Nausea, motion sickness and anxiety are not limited to humans. Your dog can experience them too! If your dog is panting and drooling excessively in the car, they are likely nervous and/or nauseous. To start, if your dog gets sick in the car, do not feed them a meal or give them excess amounts of water before going on a car ride or road trip. Save yourself the hassle of cleaning up dog puke from the back of the car and save your dog from the unneeded nausea and vomiting. Roll the windows down! Leave a gap in the window large enough for your dog to get a steady supply of air but small enough that they can’t jump or fall out of the window. Sometimes some good ol’ O2 can ease a queasy stomach in humans and dogs! There are ginger pills, calming chews and prescription meds that may help ease nausea as well. If your dog seems more nervous than sick, try to make the car a happy place for them. Praise them regularly, and bring them on fun car rides to exciting places for walks and adventures instead of only using the car to transport them to the vet or groomer.
If your dog seems unwell and is drooling excessively they may have ingested a poisonous substance. Household cleaners and pest preventative poisons should never be left anywhere that your dog could access and should be checked regularly to make sure they haven’t been moved to an area that your dog could reach. If you know that your dog hasn’t gotten into any household poisons or poisonous foods (check out our 10 human foods that dogs can and cannot eat article) then your dog may have eaten or come into contact with a poisonous plant. The ASPCA lists 410 plants that could be poisonous to your dog. Yup that’s right, 410!!! To name a few, dogs should stay away from ingesting: Amaryllis, Holly, Aloe, Lily’s, some Ivy’s and most fruit trees. If you think your dog has come into contact with a poisonous plant and your dog is having an adverse reaction including drooling and lethargy, call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
To read the entire list of 410 potentially poisonous plants follow this link https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants?field_toxicity_value%5B0%5D=01&page=3
The 411 On Drool
Your dog’s drool could be a symptom of a number of things: breeding, anxiety, mouth disease, poison, heat stroke or a health issue. If you’re concerned about your dogs drool, discuss it with your vet. Our dogs don’t speak our language and sometimes it can be tough to determine the severity of their symptoms. If you’re unsure if your dog’s drool is normal, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Home sweet crate
A crate (e.g.,cage) should be a cozy, comfy place that your dog can use as a safe-harbor when tired or stressed or home alone. If your dog gets stressed in the car, putting their crate in the car could help them relax. Don't forget to put a towel or blanket on the roof of the crate to give your dog the feeling of a protected space.