- Increased salivation may be an indication that your pet is nauseous and about to vomit.
- If your animal is painful around the mouth exercise extreme caution as there is a risk you can be bitten if you examine the oral cavity.
- If signs appear immediately after the animal was seen chewing on a bone or stick there may be a foreign body that can be removed. A common site for objects to become lodged is between the upper dental arcades, across the roof of the mouth. You may be able to remove with your fingers, but distressed animals may require sedation to facilitate removal of oral foreign bodies.
- If your pet was seen mouthing or chewing on a cane toad, remove the toad (washing your hands thoroughly with soapy water afterwards) and gently rinse the mouth out with water (using a syringe). Point the syringe across rather than towards the back of the mouth so the animal does not aspirate water. Using a damp cloth, wipe the mouth and gums as the venom is very sticky. [See section on Poisons/toxins- cane toad].
- Seek veterinary attention immediately.
WHAT IS IT?
Hypersalivation or ptyalism refers to excessive production of saliva, manifested as drooling. Saliva is produced by the salivary glands.
- Excess saliva around mouth, often staining the fur on the chest or on the forelimbs.
- Other signs will vary depending on the underlying cause but may include:
- Difficulty eating (dysphagia)
- Pain around or inside of the mouth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Swelling around the face or under the jaw
- Gagging or retching
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive drinking (polydipsia)
- Excessive urination (polyuria)
- Pale gums
- Yellow tinged gums and skin (jaundice)
- Weight loss
- Licking or chewing a toxic substance (for example, mouthing a cane toad)
- Lesions in the oral cavity: gingivitis, inflammation of the mouth, periodontal disease, ulcers on the mouth or tongue, foreign bodies in the mouth, trauma, oral tumours
- Disorders of the salivary glands
- Disorders of the oesophagus (such as megaoesophagus)
- Neurologic disorders that affect swallowing or movement of the tongue, or increase salivation (such as some seizure disorders)
- Systemic disease: kidney disease, liver disease
Veterinary care depends on the underlying cause. Aside from a physical examination, your veterinarian will perform an oral examination (this may require sedation or anaesthesia). Other potential tests include aspiration of masses, x-rays, blood tests to determine systemic health as well as kidney and liver function, abdominal ultrasound, endoscopy and potentially screening for some toxins.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Schroeder H & Berry WL (1998) Salivary gland necrosis in dogs: a retrospective study of 19 cases. Journal of Small Animal Practice 39:121-125.
Liptak JM & Withrow SJ (2007) Oral tumours. Section A, Chapter 21: Cancer of the gastrointestinal tract. In: Small Animal Clinical Oncology eds. Withrow SJ & Vail DM. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier, pp455-475.