Petriage Clinical Insights

IMPORTANT: This article, which is provided for educational purposes only, is based on published veterinary data and decades of work with pets and pet parents. The information provided here is not designed to be comprehensive but to help you avoid the pitfalls of online misinformation and most importantly, to frame the conversation you should have with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian’s perspective may differ from what is expressed here. Always consult with your veterinarian.

Drooling (Hypersalivation or Ptyalism)

There are many possible causes of excessive salivation. The significance of the drooling needs to be assessed within the context of other symptoms and the duration of the episode. Your veterinarian should be able to help you determine if there is a significance to the issue, and if a search for the cause is warranted.


Observe your pet for any other signs or patterns associated with the drooling. Take special care to look for signs of GI trouble, such as difficulty chewing and or swallowing, reduced appetite, vomiting, and retching. Look for any neurological signs, balance problems or strange behavior associated with the excessive drooling. 


While in dogs some amount of slobbering could be considered normal, in cats drooling is almost never normal. Having said that, there are unusual cats that will start drooling when they are very happy or stressed. 

In large, deep-chested dog breeds that are prone to gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), sudden excessive drooling should always be taken seriously as it might be an early warning of the onset of the condition.

Pets that exhibit hypersalivation after exposure to wildlife, especially in rabies-endemic areas, should not be handled at all. Contact your veterinarian immediately. 


  • A significant amount of slobbering could be considered normal in some dog breeds, especially giant breeds. However, a change in the amount of chronic slobbering may be noteworthy. 
  • Try to look in and around your pet’s mouth for abnormalities or signs of pain. 
  • Lip smacking often accompanies excessive drooling, and can indicate nausea. 
  • Anxiety in certain individuals can bring on hypersalivation. 
  • Dogs of about a year or younger that consistently drool after eating should be evaluated to see if they have a congenital liver shunt.
  • Some dogs, and much more often cats, can start drooling profusely after they are given oral medicines. This is usually a reaction to the taste of the medicine. 
  • Pets who are able to lick the area where a topical flea and parasite preventative was applied might start to hypersalivate, and will need to be treated immediately to prevent serious side effects. This is especially true for cats.