It is a lovely and warm, sunshine-filled day and you can’t think of any better way to spend it than by chilling with your favorite furball (and his friends!) at the local dog park. It is a fantastic idea, after all, dogs absolutely love to socialize, especially with their beloved brother canines.
However, when your pooch greets his furry buddies, you notice him doing something strange. He is foaming and/or drooling from the mouth while in the other dogs’ presence. What is wrong with him? Why does my dog drool around other dogs? Is it something to be concerned about?
First, take a deep breath. Barring an undiagnosed medical condition, his act of ‘social drooling’ (drooling when he is put in social situations) is completely normal, generally harmless, and could be caused by a number of different things.
Your dog may drool more around other dogs as a sign of stress, either he is excited or anxious. With many dogs around, they all have their own unique scent and your dog may get overly excited or fearful which leads to excess salivation.
This guide will help to answer all of your drool-related questions while also explaining exactly why some dogs drool when around other dogs, both big and small. Knowing why it happens, how to deal with it, and whether medical intervention is necessary, can help avoid the next freak-out at the dog park when your precious Fido starts looking like he has been hanging out with Cujo.
Besides Being Extra Icky, What Exactly Is Drool?
Basically, drool is just an overproduction of saliva. It is produced by several different glands in the mouth, each with its very own type and purpose.
This purpose varies depending on diet and individual situations. Salivas’s main intended objective is to assist in the swallowing of food as well as to aid in the digestive process. It is also a heat control mechanism.
Your dog will do a combination of panting and extreme drooling when he is beginning to overheat. This is called hypersalivation and if it is in fact due to potential heatstroke, you need to get your dog to the veterinarian’s office right away, as this is considered a critical medical emergency.
Why Does My Dog Drool Around Other Dogs?
Ya know that multitude of (non-freakout-worthy) reasons for the social drooling? Here we break down the most common (and most likely) ones.
06. He’s Uber Excited
Many times, particularly in an environment with lots of other dogs (and their scents), like when at the dog park, they can easily become overly excited. This can result in sometimes excessive drooling and/or foaming.
05. He Is Ill
Sometimes dogs can develop a form of car or motion sickness, which causes severe nausea and very well could be at the core of the drooling issue. If it is motion sickness it should clear up on its own once he is no longer in the moving vehicle.
04. He’s Anxious
Nervousness and/or anxiousness is a common cause of abnormal and disproportionate drooling. He might be feeling anxious when he is in the company of unknown canine pals. If it is extreme anxiety, there are certain medications available that could help alleviate the manifestations although it should be used only when, and if, necessary. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for their expert opinion.
03. He’s Fearful
Extreme drooling can also be an indicator that he may be feeling fear. If he is feeling fearful or scared, drooling or foaming from the mouth is not all that uncommon. In this instance, you should be cognizant of the possible fear of biting or even attacking. If he starts growling or pulling back his lips, he should be separated from the other dogs.
02. Unfamiliar Scent
This a big one. An unknown or unfamiliar scent could definitely be the cause of the drooling. A dog’s sense of smell is amazingly strong and they have been known to have an almost visceral reaction to a scent that they do not recognize.
01. There Is Food In The Vicinity
If your dog, well any dog, catches a whiff of something edible and delicious, the oral waterworks are about to rev up. This also happens when he actually witnesses the eating in action.
Breed Type Definitely Plays A Role
Since we now know the basics of how drool/saliva is made, we can somewhat understand why some dog breeds are going to be more prone to drooling than others. If your pooch falls under one of these breed classifications, the drooling might be more related to that, than to a singular event. Some of the most popular drool-heavy breeds:
- Saint Bernard
- Basset Hound
- Great Dane
- Pit Bull
If your dog is a ‘breed drooler’ then it is more than likely due to the natural formation of his mouth and lips. They are looser and shaped so that leaks are made possible. He simply can’t hold it in. If your dog’s breed type is the culprit, grab your mop and bucket because you are going to be drowning in saliva for a very long time.
Should I Be Worried?
Sure, it’s kind of gross (okay, maybe a lot gross!) but it is not likely something to be serious or overly concerned about.
Most of the time it is going to be due to an adrenal response (the adrenal gland produces the hormones that regulate the immune system, blood pressure, and you guessed it, stress response) or physical response to some sort of trigger or outside stimuli.
If other symptoms are present, such as behavioral changes, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, or lethargy, it could be something that requires a veterinarian, and you should probably seek immediate medical attention. There are also certain conditions that can cause excess drooling, like:
- Ptyalism: This is a condition in which the salivary glands are overactive and producing abnormal amounts of saliva.
- Pseudoptyalism: This condition causes the dog to have difficulty swallowing saliva.
- Rabies: Most dog owners very first thought when you see foaming at the mouth, we get it, but thanks to scientific advancements and (mostly) mandatory vaccinations, the Rabies virus is thankfully, incredibly rare. This is not likely to be the cause of your dog’s drooling or foaming behavior.
Dental Disease: An infected tooth or gums, tumors, or an obstruction (something foreign lodged inside of the mouth) can cause drooling and even possibly foaming from the mouth. Periodontal disease can lead to more serious complications and quite obviously any possible tumors need to be seen by a medical professional.
When in doubt, get it checked out. It is always better to be safe than sorry (yes, it’s corny but oh so true!). The drooling could be a warning symptom of a latent, but possibly more urgent, condition. The sooner that it is diagnosed, the sooner your pooch gets treatment, the sooner he will be back to his rambunctious, relatively dry, self.
How To Deal With A Drooling Issue
First, you’ll want to hang a large bucket around his neck..kidding.
In all seriousness, you just need to invest in a lot of paper towels (or cheap towels to be tree-friendly!). Earnestly speaking, without an underlying medical cause, there is not much you can do, other than just learn to live with it.
If it seems to be a response to anxiety or stress you could always ask the veterinarian about possible avenues of treatment, or even anti-anxiety prescriptions, that could help to ease your dogs’ symptoms.
How To Minimize Drooling At The Source
While there is, unfortunately, no sure-fire, magical cure for drooling, it is possible to greatly reduce the amounts that you are dealing with in everyday life.
You do this by feeding a mainly wet food diet. This is because when they are fed a dry diet, the dogs’ salivary glands will be prompted to produce extra watery saliva, and in larger amounts. Which, in turn, can cause more drool.
Still, you have to keep an eye on weight levels with a wet food diet, as being overweight is incredibly dangerous to the health of your pet.
When It’s Time To See The Veterinarian
When you notice anything about your dog’s behavior that could indicate a more serious problem, it is always in his best interest to get a professional opinion.
If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, which can include hypersalivation, pale and tacky gums, increased heart rate, vomiting, and diarrhea, it is imperative that your dog sees a doctor as soon as possible. If not treated quickly, it can be fatal.
Once you have ruled out all more serious possibilities, what you are basically left with is an excited, happy, and loving dog. And, really, is that truly such a bad thing?
If this is typically only an issue when he is around his menagerie of furry friends, it might be better to simply let it slide.
Forcing him to take unnecessary medication, or participate in unnecessary treatment, is pretty much overkill. Especially when it is for a very specific reaction, to a very specific situation.
If this is the worst of your dog problems, you should count yourself, one incredibly lucky pet owner. It could always be worse, and a little saliva slime never hurt anybody.