Something you should know about furry dogs: they need much brushing My Samoyed, Eva, hates the summer months not only because she’s hot, but because she has to put up with being brushed a lot more than she’d like. One would think that she would be used to it by now, but she always tries to sneak away. Recently, Eva started doing something even more unusual when I pulled strand after strand of her cloud-white fur: drool.
Curious as to why she was drooling so much during our brushing sessions, I reached out to Sarah Wooten, DVM and Pumpkin Pet Insurance Veterinary Expert, for answers.
Why does my dog drool so much when I brush him?
In Eva’s case, unfortunately, drooling is a sign of stress. “Excessive salivation is the result of hyperstimulation from a stressor in the environment, in this case, brushing,” says Dr. Wooten.
But why does it happen? “Anxiety can also cause jaws to clench, even in dogs, which can create excess saliva,” she explains.
Why else do dogs drool?
Aside from seeing a really yummy treat in your hand, sadly drooling in dogs can be a sign of a health issue. Dr. Wooten lists the following reasons why your dog might drool excessively:
- Nausea due to dizziness or motion sickness
- Pain from any part of the body.
- Periodontal disease
- Salivary gland disease
- Esophageal problems (gastric reflux/esophagitis, esophageal foreign body, hiatal hernia, megaesophagus)
- Neurological disease (vestibular syndrome or paralysis)
- stomach ulcers
- Oral trauma (such as a stick stuck in the gums, broken tooth, burns from chewing on an electrical cord)
- oral tumor
- Eating a toxic plant or chemical
- Immune-mediated disease, such as pemphigus
- Infections (rabies, spirocerciasis, pythiosis, botulism, tetanus)
- Severe liver or kidney disease
- Certain medications or chemicals (caffeine, pyrethrin, ivermectin)
- Insect or snake bite
Given the length of this list, it can be very difficult to diagnose the cause of your puppy’s drooling on your own. So call your vet if you think there’s something wrong.
Keep in mind, of course, that some dogs naturally drool a lot due to the shape of their mouths. (Loose, droopy lips don’t hold saliva very well!) Breeds that drool include Bulldogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bloodhounds, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, and St. Bernards, among others. others.
When should you take your dog to the vet for drooling?
It’s always good to go with your gut if you think your furry friend isn’t doing well. That said, Dr. Wooten suggests visiting the vet if his dog:
- You are drooling more than usual and it lasts more than a few hours
- Drooling along with any other abnormalities
- Act sick in any way
- They ate something they shouldn’t have
- Was bitten by an insect or snake or was injured in some way
Your vet will be able to examine your pup and run diagnostic tests to find out the cause.
For dogs that drool when stressed, do you have any tips on how to reduce stress?
I do my best to keep Eva away from stressful situations, but sometimes certain stressful events (like vet visits and grooming) need to happen. So, I asked Dr. Wooten what I can do to relieve some of her stress in these situations.
“Try using a licking mat covered in something yummy to distract your dog while you groom him,” she says. “Keep grooming sessions short and positive, and try to have several short sessions throughout the day…Only groom small parts of your dog at a time, stop as soon as the dog starts drooling, [and] stay positive and calm.”
It also helps to find out the exact cause of drooling. For example: Does it happen when Eva sees the brush, or when she touches a specific part of her body? “Try to figure out when exactly her dog starts drooling and try to stay ‘under that trigger,’” says Dr. Wooten. “You’ll need to know when the drooling really starts and stop before that happens to condition a different response in her dog. It can help to work with a dog behaviorist.”
Additionally, she suggests:
- Using over-the-counter calming supplements
- Asking your vet for an anxiety medication
- Follow up grooming with play sessions and other fun things to create a positive association with brushing.
- Exercise your dog before grooming him so he is tired and calm
Thanks to Dr. Wooten’s grooming tips, I’ve noticed that Eva is less drooling when I pull out the brush. Over time, I hope she becomes even more comfortable with our brushing sessions!