National Slobber Appreciation Day

November 16, 2022

People often ask why do dogs slobber or drool. It's really something about which everyone who knows dogs has seen and often laughs at, but few truly appreciate or understand. All dogs drool so if you don’t like drool it’s best not to choose to share your home with a dog. Drool is just a fancy word for saliva, particularly saliva that’s no longer in the dog’s mouth but is collecting on your pant leg, your cheek, or a wall or floor under the dining room table. A dog’s salivary glands are constantly producing and excreting saliva into the mouth. The production of saliva increases when dogs smell or taste something enticing.

Some dogs drool on the run, when they're having a fit and engaged in zoomies, and they and their dog and humans friends often get splattered (for more details on this please see "It's OK For Dogs to Engage in Zoomies and Enjoy FRAPs" and links therein). Jethro, with whom Marc shared my home for more than 12 years, loved to share his slobber freely and with abandon. His dog friends didn't mind it at all, but some of human friends didn't like it very much. He also, on ocassion, expressed his anal gland when he was very excited, and his dog and human friends didn't much like this at all. These excretions from the opposite end of his body will be taken up in another essay.

Drooling is a natural occurrence and not a behavior problem. Dogs cannot help it. Like human saliva, dog saliva helps them eat and, like us, saliva production is related to taste and touch sensations in the mouth and on the tongue which activates the parts of the brain responsible for digestion. Therefore, do not get mad at your dog for prancing around with those drool icicles hanging from his mouth, or shaking his head and anointing your walls and floor with it. The only time it is dangerous for you, is if you happen step in a nice glop of it on your floor and go sliding on the old keester.

Saliva is a way for dogs to cool down, and excessive salivating can indicate they are overheated. It is also important to know that excessive slobber can be a sign of medical problems like liver and kidney diseases, anxiety, oral or dental disease, ingestion of poisonous plants or animals, motion sickness, and infections of the nose, throat, or sinuses. Drooling may also be caused by an injury in the mouth that prevents the dog from swallowing. Ptyalism is the term used to describe a condition characterized by the excessive flow of saliva, also referred to as hypersalivation. It would be good to know what the “normal” level of drool is for your own dog. If you see his drooling increasing in volume, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Because there are numerous causes for excessive salivation, you will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including vaccination status, current medications, possible toxin exposure, a history of symptoms, and any other possible incidents that might have precipitated the excessive slobber.

With drooling dogs let’s face it, there is the occasional need to de-slobber what they have managed to leave like little Christmas presents around the house. If it is still fresh, wiping it with a damp rag does the trick. If it has dried, nothing beats using “Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser,” not only is it a blessing for scuffs on walls, it is perfect for that dried spittle. Another personal favorite for floors is equal parts of warm water and vinegar with a squirt of Dawn dishwashing liquid. The acid in vinegar cuts through the slime like a hot knife through butter. This combo also works well for windows, omitting the dish soap. Window cleaning with vinegar alone will not leave a film or streaks on the glass.

As a side note, the movie Homeward Bound depicts a harrowing journey made by two canines and their feline friend, Sassy. One of the most famous lines is uttered by Sassy who says, “… cats rule and dogs drool.” While valid, please note some cats will also drool when content or happy. But remember, even though a cat drooling can be a normal occurrence, it can also signify a medical problem or pain which should not be ignored. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian.