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Drooling in dogs and cats

Drooling, or hypersalivation (ptyalism), is the result of overproduction of saliva or the inability to swallow the saliva being produced, or both. Drooling in pets can present as a mild complaint or be very severe and can be intermittent or a constant feature. Read our vets advice about what to do to help your cat or dog.

What are the causes of drooling in dogs and cats?

  • Oral pain or trauma

  • Oral foreign body (like a piece of stick)

  • Dental disease and pain

  • Problems swallowing

  • Nausea

  • Infection

  • Drug reaction

  • Toxin ingestion

  • Rabies (the UK is currently free from Rabies)

  • Contact reaction/dermatitis - eg licking irritant material such as bleach

  • Other less common causes

What are the signs of drooling in dogs and cats?

Often pets will have a wet mouth or chin and they may have strings of clear, frothy saliva hanging from their mouth. The bed or blanket they are lying on may become damp or wet and sometimes the saliva may smell or contain a little blood. You may notice redness to the skin and fur around the mouth. This can be caused by inflammation of the skin as a result of constantly being wet or staining of the fur by the saliva.

What is the treatment for drooling in dogs and cats?

This will depend on the underlying cause and diagnoses may require some further investigations such as x-rays and blood tests. Treatments for the most common causes include:

  • Performing an oral exam. Some pets may require sedation for this.

  • Extracting any infected or rotting teeth which may be causing dental pain

  • Giving anti-nausea medication

  • Giving pain relief

  • Starting a course of antibiotics

  • Carrying out treatment for toxin ingestion

How can I prevent drooling in my dog or cat?

It is important to have a pet’s teeth examined regularly to spot any problems early. Avoid contact with toxins or irritants e.g. household cleaning products, plants and medications. Avoid throwing sticks for dogs or giving dogs very hard chews as this carries a risk of trauma to the mouth and teeth.

When to see your vet?

Unless hypersalivation occurs for only a short period and then fully resolves, or can be linked to nausea, such as car travel, your pet should always be checked by a vet.

Still worried?

Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our Med RM vets for advice, treatment, and if necessary, referral to your local vet.


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