Friday, May 14, 2010
By Linda Cole
Anyone who has seen the movie “Beethoven” will remember the scene where the dog is sitting in the middle of his owner's bed with a long string of drool hanging from his mouth. As he shakes his head, drool flies everywhere. It was funny in the movie and some dogs drool naturally, but excessive drooling can indicate a more serious problem.
I had a dog who would get a drink of water, walk over to sit beside me and then slobber excess water down my leg. It wasn't so bad during the winter months with a pair of jeans on, but in the summer when I wore shorts, it really gave me a start when I wasn't expecting it. She was a breed of dog that drooled naturally and, like in the movie Beethoven, anytime she shook her head, we'd run for cover. That dog would send drool flying everywhere! The cats weren't even spared from a flying string of dog drool and ran away from her just as fast as we did. I learned to leave towels in easy to find places throughout the house – just in case.
Some breeds have lips that are heavier than others. Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Boxers and Saint Bernards, along with other breeds, are known for their drooling. These types of dogs drool because the loose skin around their jaw catches saliva where it collects and fills up until there's no room for more. Slobbering and drooling is just part of who they are, but even for them, excess drooling can indicate there's something wrong. Excessive drooling can cause a dog to become dehydrated.
Breeds who normally don't drool may have times when they become over stimulated, which can cause excess saliva to build up. It's nothing to worry about unless the dog suddenly begins to drool with no clear reason. A medical problem may be why.
Dogs drool when they have something caught in their mouth, on their tongue, in their throat or between their teeth. Our canine friends use their mouths to help them determine what things are, and an inquisitive dog can pick up small objects that can become stuck somewhere in their mouth. A bad tooth or gum disease will also cause your dog to slobber. One sure sign of dental or gum problems is a dog with extremely bad breath. A bone that splintered or became caught in the dog's throat or a splinter from chewing on wood can get stuck on the roof of their mouth, under the tongue or caught between their teeth. If you see your dog pawing at his mouth and drooling, something is bothering him.
Digestive problems will cause dogs to drool. Bloat is a dangerous condition that needs to be taken care of immediately. A hard stomach, foaming at the mouth along with drool and attempts to vomit are symptoms of bloat. For more information on bloat, read What is Bloat? What Are the Symptoms?
Heat stroke, epilepsy and other medical conditions are more reasons why dogs drool. Nausea from riding in a car or an upset stomach from eating something that didn't agree with him will cause a dog to drool. Overeating, eating too much spicy food or mixing different kinds of food together can cause a stomach ache in some dogs.
A reaction to flea control products, bee stings, poison and allergic reactions to food or medications will produce excess saliva. Pain-induced drooling from conditions like urinary tract infections and ear infections, liver disease and tumors in their mouth are a few reasons why your dog could be suddenly drooling. A dog who picks up stinging insects and spiders will sometimes bite them on the tongue or side of the mouth causing them to drool.
Toads, snails and slugs will cause a dog to drool if they grab one. Every summer during the evening hours we comb through the grass in my dog's pen trying to find toads and slugs before my dogs do. Most toads aren't poisonous to dogs, but they have enough toxin to make them drool if a dog picks one up or tries to bite it. In some parts of the country, there are a few toads that are deadly to dogs and cats.
Some dogs drool naturally, and from experience I know that even with them, you know when they have excessive drooling. Any time a dog drools more than usual or suddenly begins, it's an indication something is wrong. Never put off seeing your vet, because your dog's life could depend on your fast action. When caught early, most medical conditions can be taken care of and some of them are nothing to mess around with.
Read more articles by Linda Cole