Having a dog at home is a great experience for every dog owner.
These social creatures are great companions at home; they understand and lift your mood when you are down, they protect you when they sense danger, and we can forget that they are full of tricks that keep you happy, so happy that you forget your sorrows.
But there is a common characteristic that everyone knows about dogs, drooling.
Drooling in dogs is a natural occurrence, but when you notice that your dog has slimy saliva instead of the normal drool you notice in its mouth, then there is reason to worry.
Does your dog have a thick slime in its mouth? In this article, I explain why that might be and what should be done when your canine’s attitude raises eyebrows.
What role does saliva play in a dog’s mouth?
Unlike humans, the dog’s saliva doesn’t contain any digestive enzymes. So dogs don’t have to chew their food before swallowing as no digestion takes place while chewing. Regardless of this, the dog’s saliva plays a crucial role in lubricating their mouths to get their food down to the stomach, where digestion begins.
The dog’s saliva also plays an important role in preventing canine cavities. The saliva in a dog’s mouth is slightly alkaline, which buffers the acid produced by bacteria which causes the enamel of the tooth to be eroded.
Lastly, the dog’s saliva also contains antibacterial properties. So when you see your dog licking its wounds, it is mostly performing a cleansing action that promotes the healing of its wounds, especially shallow wounds.
Note, however, that not all superficial infections are cured by licking. I would advise you to make your veterinary antiseptic products your first choice when dealing with your canine wounds.
What does it mean if my dog has thick saliva but is otherwise okay?
The main cause of thick saliva in dogs is a dry mouth. A dry mouth, however, has several underlying causes whose severity may vary from mild to serious. But if you notice that your dog, even though it has thick saliva, shows no other symptoms, it is most probably dehydrated.
Thick saliva in dogs can also be a side effect of your dog’s medication. So, if you notice that your dog has thick saliva when they are on a certain medication, it is probably a side effect of the medication.
When your dog’s mouth is dry, it cannot produce enough saliva to moisturize its mouth, hence the thick saliva. While your dog may seem okay, a dry mouth is something to deal with immediately as your dog may develop other oral issues like dental diseases, dry or cracked tongues and oral mucous membranes, cavities, bad breath, and even difficulties chewing swallowing food.
How can I fix my dog’s thick mucus?
The first thing you do is to make sure your dog is properly hydrated. If your dog is suffering from dehydration, make sure you provide enough water for your dog. At this point, you should see your dog lapping as fast as it can as it will be thirsty.
If your dog’s thick saliva is a result of medications, a trip to your vet on whether to reduce its dose or change its medications would be best. Common veterinary medications that may cause thick saliva are antihistamines, diuretics, decongestants, atropine, sedatives, and lots more.
Regardless of what you may think, though, you may want to speak with your vet about your dog’s thick saliva as your dog may exhibit a few important symptoms that you may not have noticed. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
What could it mean if my dog has slimy saliva and appears unwell?
A thick slime in your dog’s dry mouth is a reason to raise eyebrows as it is not a good sign. If your dog has a sticky slime in its mouth and appears unwell, then your dog may be suffering from the following conditions:
- adverse reaction to medications
In less serious cases, a simple change in medications may resolve the issues. But in more severe cases, your dog may exhibit symptoms like drowsiness, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, etc., along with its slimy saliva. An immediate trip to the vet would have to be made. The vet may have to get its stomach pumped immediately, followed by treating any damages incurred.
The increase in the dog’s body temperature in a hot environment can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke is mostly caused by leaving your dog in a car or not providing shade or water for your dog when they are outdoor.
Symptoms of heatstroke are excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness, and collapse.
Heatstroke is very dangerous, and it is considered a veterinary emergency as any delay may cause the death of your dog. If your suspect heatstroke in your dog, take your dog to the vet immediately while making sure it stays as cool as possible on the way.
Your vet will have to carry out fluid therapy intravenously to replace fluids and minerals lost. Close monitoring would also be done to ensure there aren’t any complications such as clotting, kidney failure, blood pressure changes, and others.
- Nerve damage
Although this is quite rare, it could also cause slimy saliva in your dog. When the nerves controlling the salivary glands are damaged due to surgery, a tumor, traumatic injury, etc., your dog may have a dry mouth. Sometimes, this occurs in conjunction with neurogenic KCS (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), also referred to as dry eye.
- Radiation treatment
Cancer radiation treatment can also cause dry mouth and sticky saliva in your dog. It is important to contact your vet whenever you notice that your dog has a dry mouth during or after receiving radiation therapy.
Many more rare cases may be the cause of this condition, so it is important to plan a trip to your vet to determine the underlying conditions of your dog’s slimy saliva. Your vet will have to conduct a few tests and pay close attention to your dog to accurately diagnose your dog’s condition and nurse it back to health.
Why do some breeds of dogs drool excessively?
Even though all dogs drool, some dogs drool much more than others. This is because they have loose mouth skins, short snouts, and large jowls. These dogs have trouble holding saliva, and it instead gathers in their cheeks, causing them to drool.
Common examples of dogs that drool excessively are
- St. Bernard
- Basset Hound
- Bullmastiff, and many more.
If you own or plan to own any of these breeds, then you’ve got your work cut out for you.
What is Ptyalism?
Ptyalism, also known as hypersalivation, is the excessive flow of saliva accumulated in the mouth. It mostly occurs when your dog produces more saliva than it can swallow. It is more noticeable with dogs with extra skin around their lips and muzzle as they cannot retain the saliva that they produce.
Ptyalism occurs naturally in dogs, especially when expecting something delicious like a treat, a piece of steak, or a whiff of delicious food. It could get their mouth watering.
This condition is natural and cannot be cured. However, you can manage it by keeping a handkerchief tied around your dog’s neck so that the drool is absorbed before it messes up the ground. A drool rag can also be gold when managing this condition.
Wiping your dog’s face whenever it eats or drinks or whenever you notice drool in its face just before it starts falling will reduce the mess greatly. Seems stressful but very effective.
How can you make sure that your dog’s saliva is healthy?
Your dog’s saliva contains bacteria that can be harmful to us humans and even your dog itself. While you can’t totally rid your dog of this bacteria, you can make it healthier by making sure you brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
Mouth cleansers are also a plus. This reduces the bacteria in your dog’s mouth, making it healthier. It also removes plaque and reduces the occurrence of mouth diseases especially periodontal disease common in dogs.
Dogs are an important part of our life as an individual, a family and even a community itself. Your dog’s health is very important; therefore, it is paramount that you pay close observation to how they behave and communicate so that any changes in their behavior can be noticed earlier and taken care of.
Ensure that your dog is well hydrated. Regular checkup by your local vet is also important. Any unusual changes in your dog’s behavior should be reported to your vet immediately as he is an expert in the field.
Lastly, a clean dog is a healthy dog, a healthy dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is a happy family. Treat your dog well and feel the joy that it will give back to you.