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 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

  11. 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?

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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

  18. 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….

  19. 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

  20. 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?

  21. 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

  22. Our 4yr old samoyed has always had excessive drool. This is not our 1st Samoyed and not a typical issue for the breed. He consistently drools even when his mouth is closed! I read recently some heartworm prevention medicines could cause hypersalvation. What is a non-salvation producing option?

  23. Hi Audrey, and thank you for your question. For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form.
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

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