Excessive drooling (ptyalism) in cats and dogs
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.