Drooling

It is not exactly elegant, but dogs waiting for breakfast will often show their appreciation by getting a little moist around the mouth. And some breeds, like Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands, drool almost all the time. But if your pet is normally dry, yet suddenly starts flowing like a faucet, you can bet there is something wrong. This is especially true for cats, who generally drool less than dogs.

"As soon as I see a drooling cat, I'm thinking ulcers in the mouth or immune system disease," says Mark Riehl, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Bristol, Tennessee. Cats with feline AIDS, leukemia, or even the flu will sometimes get mouth sores that cause them to drool, he says. Kidney problems can also cause sores and drooling in cats as well as dogs.

While dogs often drool because of mealtime anticipation, cats may salivate for sheer pleasure, which is why you may feel a few drips when your friendly feline starts nuzzling your neck. Conversely, cats will also drool when they are afraid, like when it is time for a bath.

Some pets will drool after eating instead of before. In medium- and large-breed dogs, this is sometimes caused by a condition called bloat, in which the stomach twists and then expands, says Jim Hendrickson, V.M.D., a veterinarian in emergency private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Dogs with this condition usually appear restless and will try unsuccessfully to vomit. Bloat is an emergency that may require surgery, so you will need to see your vet right away.

Dogs and cats with epilepsy may drool before a seizure. And many pets will drool when they have digestive problems or even car sickness.

It is very common for pets to drool copiously when they have eaten something bitter, anything from a lemon wedge to drain cleaner. They will also drool when they have mouth pain due to dental problems, for example, or a splinter stuck in the gum.

See Your Vet If...

  • Your pet is drooling after eating
  • She has a history of seizures
  • You suspect that she has eaten something bitter
  • Your pet is lethargic
  • Your pet can't open his mouth or is having trouble opening it
  • He can't close his mouth
  • He won't eat or has difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • His tongue, lips, or muzzle are swollen
  • There is a foreign object stuck in his mouth
  • His gums are red and swollen, or there is bleeding
  • Your pet is drooling or panting excessively
  • His tongue or gums are blue or pale
  • Your pet has ulcers on his tongue
  • He is gagging frequently
  • There is a lump anywhere on his face
  • He is pawing frequently at his mouth or face
  • There is a discharge from his mouth or nose that lasts two days or longer
  • His breath is consistently bad
  • Your pet's nose is dry, crusty, or bleeding
  • His mouth is foaming, or he's grinding his teeth
  • There is dried saliva around the mouth

Next Steps:

Back to Mouth, Nose, and Teeth Main Page
Back to the Symptom Solver Main Page

Copyright 1999 Rodale Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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