Excessive drooling (ptyalism) in cats and dogs

One possible cause of excessive salivating or drooling may be caused by your pet's allegries

One of the more urgent common phone calls to veterinary offices and emergency clinics across the country is when a dog or cat suddenly starts drooling excessively without warning. Sometimes the saliva can be so thick and profuse that both dogs and cats experience difficulty/heavy breathing. There can be many possible causes heavy salivating in cats or dogs. The first thing to always consider is whether the pet potentially was recently exposed to a toxin or pesticide in the environment outside or inside the home. Even certain topical pesticides, including topical Frontline Plus and Advantage II, can cause drooling in sensitive pets, especially if the product is inappropriately applied, or in an area where the pet can lick it off.

Electric cord injuries and burns, especially seen in puppies and kittens, can cause difficulty breathing as well as excessive drooling, and such pets should get immediate emergency care. Allergic reactions to common household cleaning agents, and pesticides on the lawn or inside the home are also common causes of drooling. Even certain prescription and bitter tasting medications, such as the commonly prescribed drug Metronidazole can cause heavy drooling particularly in cats.

Many dogs and especially cats will drool to varying degrees, often accompanying nausea and vomiting seen in so many acute and chronic conditions and diseases. When drooling is more chronic, especially if the drool has a foul odor, one of the first category of diseases to consider is periodontal disease in both dogs and especially cats. Our feline friends sometimes can develop severe painful gum inflammation known as feline gingivitis/stomatitis syndrome, which can often make it difficult for them to eat.

All such pets should have an immediate veterinary exam with thorough evaluation of the oral cavity for any dental/gum disease, ulceration of the tongue, as well as a check for any foreign bodies, gum growths or tumors in the mouth or throat. Upper respiratory infections such as feline calicivirus can not only cause sneezing and nasal congestion, but also oral ulcers that can lead to heavy drooling. If the drooling persists and no known causes can be found, a full baseline workup at the veterinarian, including blood work, urine analysis, and x-rays are needed.


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  1. My cat started off sneezing last night and now is starting to drool and his eyes are a little watery. I call to see if my vet was on call and found out the vet on call is in Pittsburgh.what can I do for him? He’s around 9 years old and never had any problems before.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 7, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    You can try chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily, as well as DMG liquid from 1800petmeds. If signs worsen or persist, see vet for evaluation.

  3. Thank You so much for answering.When we got up this morning rushed him to the vet.I thought he was only 9 but hubby said he’s 12yr. old.Anyway they took him temp.and it was 104 and an x-ray and said he has asthma and pneumonia.Game him a steroid shot and an antibiotic and said we should see results in 2 hours. After the 1st hour he was looking pretty good then about an hour later he was drooling again and keep opening and closing his mouth to breathe. I called the vet again and this time a different one answered and said she saw his x-ray and didn’t think he looked good that there was fluid on the inside and outside of his lungs.She said if he didn’t get any better to take him to Pittsburgh to be put in an oxygen tent, but the other Dr. said not to stress him out but it would (it’s a 2 hr drive)He’s a little better,as a matter of fact he just came down for a drink while I’m typing.I got a small oxygen tank from my mom but can’t get him to want to use it. So trying to think of a way that he will let me,cause it has a canal( I know spelled wrong) on it so he needs to be able to breathe in to use it. I also have 5 other cats and several of them are sneezing off and on.Thank You

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 7, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Good luck. Sounds like vets disagree on this one. Perhaps some lasix could help reduce fluid in chest even with steroid/antibiotic shot. In cat this age, fluid in chest can indicate heart issues and/or sometimes cancer. Sometimes analysis of the fluid by needle aspirate can help with diagnosis.

  5. My dog is suffering from cancer and the vet can’t do anything except to give him carprofen for the pain. I also been giving him liver protector and Anti-oxidant tablets as health supplement. He was diagnosed of cancer in Jan this year. Everything was fine until 3days ago he started to salvation excessively. I do not know what to do. I just want him to live comfortably for the rest of his remaining days. Please help!

    Thank you

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Sorry to hear of your dog Rita. i would consider consulting with a holistic vet in your area http://www.AHVMA.org or consult with vet homeopath if possible http://www.doctordym.com If still eating consider oncosupport from Rx Vitamins company which you can find on line

  7. My puppy will be 10 weeks old shes due for her 2nd set of shots Oct 22nd. Shes been fine up until about an hour ago when she started drooling and breathing heavy. Ive tried to call her vet but with no answeron the emergency number. I need help!

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 10, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Take to nearest emergency clinic for evaluation as not much you can do at home.

  9. My kitten is drooling he is 3months olds – is there anything to give him to ease the pain of teething? He has had his shots and the vet saw him drool but didn’t feel it was anything serious. teething made sense. Are there remedies or recomendations for easing the discomfort or pain for a kitten?

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I doubt it is teething but I would check with your vet. If truly teething the homeopathic remedy calcaria phosphorica can help in many cases at a potency of 6c potency 1 pellot twice daily. Can get this from health food store.

  11. My cat has started drooling and licking his lips a lot what could this be is he sick?

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 1, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Many possibilities including nausea from virus, toxicity, etc. Best to have vet exam if persists.

  13. I just applied some Frontline Plus on my cat where I believe was just below her shoulder blades about an hour and a half ago. I then fed her about 20 minutes ago and when she was finished eating she started excessively drooling and darting around the room. Could she have somehow licked the Frontline and is having a reaction? She does not normally have this reaction when getting the flea drops put on her.

  14. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Sounds like possible reaction. She may have ingested small amount of the front line. See vet if signs persist for supportive care.

  15. My cat has started drooling accessivly and stopped grooming herself. She also has or looks like her eyes are watering and gets a build up in the corners.

  16. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Best to have vet exam and evaluation to help sort out underlying possible causes.

  17. Hi frank Is your cat still experiencing drooling also right now?.. Are you still struggling with this issue? If so, I can reply to you here or faster via email if you still need help, at answers@immuneiq(com) – Cynthia”

  18. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 13, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Please do not advertise your products on this forum. Thank you.

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 13, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Please do not advertise your products on this forum.

  20. I have a 14 yr old cat , started drooling today and a little bit of blood coming from his nose , he wont eat or drink, his gums are white as well and don’t seem very comfortable.. iam taking him to the vet in the morning but they are closed on the weekends where i am located .. he has no known health problems that iam aware of.. and has always been a indoor cat, anyone know what might be the problem?

  21. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 23, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Severe anemia is likely which can be due to chronic viral infections like Felv/FIV, severe parasitism with fleas or worms, as well as chronic disease,, including bacterial infections and cancer. Need to see vet ASAP. good luck

  22. Hi,
    My year old cat suddenly started drooling. She had recently been out on my balcony when I noticed her run back inside. She made a yowling noise and jumped on my bed. I then noticed a coupios amount of clear frontage from her eyes and she looked as if she were trying to swallow something. I immediacy grabbed her and attempted to rinse out her mouth with water and inspect her mouth. She now is acting like her usual self and grooming. I gave her a treat to see if she would eat and she did. Her bowel sounds are hyperactive but her lungs sound fine. Should I be concerned?

  23. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 23, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Perhaps she got into something like a lizard or frog that was outside or some other toxic exposure. Monitor her. If drooling continues or worsens, see vet in your area. In my area of Florida, sometimes toads and lizards can cause this reaction.

  24. Hi we are dog sitting a black Labrador he is 9 and around 4 hours ago he has started to hyper salivating and drooling everywhere it won’t stop and he is drinking more water than usual What should we do???

  25. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 28, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Need to have vet exam and assessment including possibly blood work and x rays to sort this out

  26. My dog weights is 14 lbs, she has been having Bronchitis, vet gave her antibiotic, worked a little, now she seems worse also experiencing very red inner mouth with lesions, her temp is also 100.1 talked to vet, wanted to give her a steroids, but she’s allergic to them, but she eats and drinks okay, just lays around which is not normal.what can I do now?? 3

  27. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 27, 2014 at 12:24 am

    You could ask vet about meds to dilate airways such as theophylline, as well as possibly low dose steroid combination therapy with meds like temaril p which I have seen help many of these dogs.

  28. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 27, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Ask vet about prescription theophylline as well as low dose steroid combination med temaril p which I have seen work great with little side effects in most pets

  29. Last Friday we came home from school to find our 11 yr old neutered male indoor cat drooling excessively and having a bit of a hard time breathing. When his condition did not improve we brought him to the Vet ER. Also, he had thrown up a larger than normal hairball that morning and we were concerned he might be choking. He was seen, given O2 and x-rayed which did not reveal anything in particular. He was kept overnight with hydration. They tried to feed him in the am but he refused. I spoke with 3 different vets in total and none had anything definitive to say so I picked him up and brought him home thinking he might be more comfortable. Once in the car he peed in his carrier and when he came in the door went right to the food bowl and had a bite to eat. My concern is he is still only eating minimally and is not interested in drinking very much. I have added h2o to his canned food but he isn’t taking in much. The trip to the ER was more than my budget can allow. I want to take care of him but can’t take extreme measures. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  30. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

    THis is hard one for me to give you sensible advice from this end. I would recommend a consultation with a board certified internist or veterinarian in your area who can offer a more definitive diagnosis of what is going on here.

  31. Hi doctor,
    I just adopted a 5-6 month old kitten. It’s not uncommon for him to drool, but today I noticed his drool was thicker and smelled foul, although he is not drooling “excessively”. He is also teething and his adult teeth are starting to come in. He eats normally, still cleans himself, does not act like he’s in pain, and is still feisty, though seems to be more tired today than usual. Is his bad-smelling drool normal for cats teething? I’m just trying to make sure it’s not something more serious. Thank you.

  32. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Bad smelling drool can have lots of causes from infections in the mouth, to rotten teeth, to inflammation/ulceration in mouth. Best to take to vet for full exam and evaluation, including possible dental rays. Make sure kitten has been tested for viruses FelV/FIV

  33. My 4 yr. old male Lab started drooling about 4 hours ago. Other than the on and off drooling, he seems fine. He ate and drank as usual. He is also his normal rambunctious self. Should I be worried about the drooling? It’s on and off but I got worried that at one point it was thick and coming down a lot. We checked his mouth and no foreign object that can be seen obviously.

  34. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Could be a bad tooth or a toxic exposure. Best to see vet if symptoms persist.

  35. I have a cat that started drooling really bad had him to the vet

  36. I gave my cat Enisyle for the first time yesterday morning for the feline herpes virus. She started drooling exessively . Ive seen cats do this when they hate a taste so I didnt think much and went about the day thinking it wld stop . That night I gave the dose along with the other two cats . She drooled . I gave the morning doses and left for the day. Came home around 5pm.. she is still drooling. Like clear drool not so much frothy . Enough to form puddles at her paws. I figured maybe its on her paws because I noticed when she went to wash her face she licked her paw but the started tearing at her face.. I quickly stopped her and trimmed her nails and rinsed her paws and face off. . Waited.. but she was still drooling. Tried to get her to eat – she refused..so I used a 5ml syrenge and flushed her mouth… still drooling profusely. I dont see any sores in there but shes miserable. Is there something better than water to flush her mouth with maybe?

  37. I have a 1 yr old Male cat, he started drooling really bad , I left for 30 minutes to get my kids from school and when I returned he ways laying on my bed and when I moved him, it looks like someone poured a Dixie cup of water on my bed. That’s how much he was drooling. He’s still eating and during water. We put frontline on him and our other male cat about 3 weeks ago. Our other cat isn’t drooling or anything. They are inside cats

  38. I have a 5 month old kitten who has recently started drooling and breathing really shallow. Barely eating and doesnt want to move around or be petted. Is there some way i can treat her without a vet? I have no money for a vet.

  39. Hi i recently got a new cat from the humane society the second day of him being here he started sneezing and drooling what coukd cause this

  40. Hi SCott. Most likely has some sort of common upper respiratory virus i.e calici virus and/or feline rhinotracheitis virus(a feline herpes virus) which is VERY common from shelters and/or humane societies. While antibiotics dont kill viruses, they can sometimes help prevent secondary complicating bacterial infections, so a veterinary exam and consultation may be best to see if antibiotics like Zithromax or clavamox may be helpful here. Given the viral component likely, you can try immune boosters like DMG liquid from 1800petmeds, as well as supplements like L-Lysine, which may help as well.

  41. My kitten is 4 or 5 months and treated fleas today and started drooling won’t let me near her mouth and purring anymore

  42. Sounds like reaction to the flea product. You didnt specify whether product was topical or oral product, as treatment will vary depending on this, as well as specific product used. I would see your vet for appropriate exam and evaluation. It is also possible there may be some oral inflammation of gums and/or teeth, which vet exam can determine

  43. took my cat to the Vet, she’s 3 drooling terribly, they took blood and xrays and she had a 102.8 temp. They also gave her introvenus liquid too to hopefully lower her temp because we won’t find out about the other things till morning. Could it be hair balls that she has not gotten rid of because I’ve never seen her cough one up. I have a younger kitten who is starting to sneeze too. They are both indoor cats, the little one is 8 months old and they love to play w ith each other aNd I’m very careful about things that could hurt them around the house. I’m so worried and scared….I can’t loose them. I just lost my husband from cancer and I don’t know if I can take another shock again, it will devastate me….

  44. The drooling could simply be this kitty’s manifestation of an upper respiratory virus known as calici virus, which may be causing the sneezing as well, or the rhinotracheitis virus. Ask your vet about these possibilities and to evaluate the oral cavity closely for ulcers on the tongue, etc that can cause this. Antibiotics may be important to prevent secondary infections, and my favorites for these is either prescription azithromycin or veraflox. Your vet can discuss these. I would start cat on DMG liquid to boost immune system from 1800petmeds and lysine products to help if virus. Hair balls much less likely

  45. My dog all of a sudden started drooling like a faucet and is licking himself. I have no idea what the problem is. He was fine an hour ago. Any ideas?

  46. Sudden Drooling may be due to dog licking a toxic substance that got on to his tongue; for example here in Florida dogs may drool after they contact Bufo toads outside. Other causes include nausea and/or upset stomach with vomiting shortly to follow. Best to see vet for exam and evaluation if persists or intensifies

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