All slobber is not created equal. Your dog may drool for any number of reasons. Some dogs drool because its typical in their breed. Others slobber as a response to external stimuli, such as stress or hunger upon seeing food. But drooling in a dog that typically doesn't slobber may be a sign that your four-legged pal is having health-related issues ranging from dental problems to allergic reactions.
Loose Lips Sink Ships ... in Slobber
Some dog breeds are prone to slobbering all over themselves and everyone around them, particularly breeds with loose lips. Bloodhounds, boxers, great Danes, Saint Bernards, and basset hounds are just some of the breeds of dogs that produce copious quantities of slobber.
A Natural Response
Drooling is a natural response to a few external factors. It is natural for a dog to slobber when he is hungry. As soon as the dog sets his eyes on his meal, his salivary glands will kick into high gear and he'll slobber all over you while you set down his dish. The slobber helps lubricate the dog's mouth so he can eat his food comfortably. Slobbering is also a natural way for dogs to respond to outside stress. Dogs that don't like riding in cars or feel overstimulated when company comes over may drool.
Getting to the Tooth of the Matter
Slobbering may be brought on because of a variety of dental and mouth problems. Check your dog's teeth, gums and mouth. Look for chipped or cracked teeth, swollen or irritated gums, or even evidence of insect bites, spider bites or bee stings. All of these factors can cause your dog to drool excessively.
Digestive Problems and Other Illnesses
Digestive problems ranging from car sickness to the more serious and potentially fatal bloat can cause a dog to drool suddenly and excessively. A dog with nausea from car sickness or upset stomach will likely slobber before vomiting. Gastric distortion volvulus, more commonly called "bloat," is often a fatal condition that requires immediate emergency treatment, as it can kill a dog within hours. Symptoms of bloat include drooling, a hardened stomach and frequent attempts at vomiting. Drooling can also be a symptom of epilepsy, heat stroke, heart trouble and other serious illnesses. Sudden slobbering can also be a sign of an allergic reaction to food or medication, or your pooch may have ingested something poisonous. If your dog doesn't normally drool and starts to suddenly slobber, get him checked out by your vet to rule out serious problems.
Know your dog and learn to read his body language. Drooling can be simply a natural physiological response or a symptom of various health issues, ranging from minor to potentially fatal. Having an awareness of your pup's usual routine and behavior will go a long way in helping you determine the possible cause of drooling and can help you make the right call, especially when that call is to get your four-legged pal to the veterinarian as fast as possible.
Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.