While in general we at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital regard doggy kisses as the utmost compliment, there are those that do not appreciate them as much. In the words of the great Lucy, “Ugh! I’ve been kissed by a dog! I have dog germs! Get hot water! Get some disinfectant! Get some iodine!”
That seems a pretty extreme reaction, but some dog kisses are a little sloppier than others, and excessive drool in general can be a bit of a turn off. So what’s with the dog slobber and why are some pups wetter than others?
The Science Of Dog Slobber
Just as in humans, saliva production is a normal part of dog physiology. Saliva is a liquid that is produced by three different sets of glands within the mouth.
Saliva has a few important functions:
- To lubricate food as it goes down the esophagus
- To help to moisten and break down food being consumed
- To provide enzymes that kick-start the digestion process
- To provide some protection for the teeth and gingiva
- To aid in cooling the body
All dogs produce saliva, and all will produce more when stimulated by the sights and sounds of a meal. It’s literally where the term mouth-watering originates.
Some breeds are definitely known for their over-abundance of dog slobber. Dogs like Saint Bernards, Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, and Newfoundlands are known for drool. These breeds typically don’t produce more saliva than any other, however their loose lips and extra skin tend to let what saliva they do produce spill out rather than stay in the mouth.
Controlling The Water Works
So, spit happens and it’s totally normal. Except for when it’s not. If you notice that the dog slobber at your house is suddenly much more excessive, there is very likely a reason.
Drool can increase if a pet is anxious, nauseous (such as in the car), is trying to cool down when it’s hot, or if he or she is anticipating something tasty. These things tend to be fleeting. If there are consistent issues, please let us know so that we can help you with things like motion sickness and separation anxiety.
If the increase in slobber production is more persistent, though, you likely need to make an appointment so that we can investigate what is going on with your pooch.
An increase in drooling can signify many things medically. Major things to rule out include:
- A foreign object stuck in the mouth or esophagus
- Oral irritation such as that seen after ingestion of something caustic or irritating like plant material
- Causes of nausea such as a foreign body obstruction or organ disease kidney disease
- Dental disease and/or oral pain
- A tumor or growth in the mouth
- Digestive upset
- Upper respiratory problems and infections
You know what is normal for your pet, so don’t be afraid to listen to your instincts if something isn’t right. A little doggy drool never hurt anyone (ahem, Lucy), but if the dog slobber seems to be superfluous, it probably needs to be checked out. We want you to enjoy those dog kisses as long as possible!