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Ruling on drooling: When to worry about your dog’s mouth

Friends of ours just got a new puppy. Actually, they got the sister of our new puppy, Rio.

Their laid-back, 3-year-old chocolate Lab, however, is not so sure about the new addition. He’s remained a little distant with the new arrival and has started to drool and foam at the mouth a bit.

Most people think of rabies when they think of a dog foaming at the mouth, but drooling and foaming can be a symptom of many things — from something as simple as stress or an upset stomach to something more serious like a dental issue, poisoning or organ disease (such as liver or kidneys).

Drooling in a dog is a bodily function triggered by a nervous reaction, according to webmd.com. Pant-ing combined with drooling can cause foaming.

Sometimes, drooling and foaming at the mouth simply signify a normal, healthy dog. Excessive physical activity, for example, can cause a dog to drool or even foam. But stress can definitely cause excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth. So can a lot of other ailments including some pretty serious conditions.

Because you’re the best judge of the behavior of your pet, it’s important to take notice of any other signs that might be occurring along with excessive drooling or foaming to determine if it’s normal, healthy slobber or something more serious.

Our Oakley used to foam and drool when riding in the car, probably from motion sickness. He never got comfortable traveling long distances.

Hope is scared of storms and fireworks. She becomes an instant drooling machine when either is present.

Milo, on the other hand, our senior boy, had very bad teeth when we adopted him. They were practically worn to the gums from chewing rocks, I’m sure. He started drooling even more when he developed a tumor under his tongue that finally took him from us. Mouth disease, and even excessive tartar, can be culprits, as can old age.

An upset stomach is often a cause for drooling and foaming. Determining what is causing the nausea is the important part. Is it something your pet ate – perhaps some table food that didn’t sit well? Or, something worse, like a toxic plant or poison?

Some breeds just naturally slobber more. Bloodhounds, Newfoundlands, mastiffs and St. Bernards are notorious for their loose upper lips, called “flews,” which cause them to drool more than other breeds.

Some short-nosed breeds — such as pugs, Boston terriers, boxers and bulldogs — are more likely to suffer from heat stroke because they don’t pant well and can become easily overheated and may drool or foam.

It’s important to notice what other symptoms your pet may be having to determine the difference between just a new, stressful situation that may be causing your pet to drool or foam (such as the new puppy addition) or perhaps a more serious health issue that needs attention from your vet.

If your pet is having trouble swallowing, is lethargic, not eating or drinking or acting strangely or differently than normal, it’s time to call the vet.

Email Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode at ahanna@altoonamirror.com.

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