Saliva is produced by specialized glands at several locations in the head and neck that empty into the mouth. Salivation is triggered by a variety of senses and situations. The odor, sight and taste of food are high on the list of stimuli that induce salivation in preparation for feeding. This is because one of the functions of saliva is to begin the process of digestion even before swallowing occurs.
Salivation can also occur in response to things that are completely unrelated to eating. During periods of acute stress or fear, individuals can experience a sensation of dryness in the mouth, but occasionally the opposite can happen. Some dogs and cats tend to hypersalivate when they are fearful or anxious. In individuals who are stoic and show little external signs of anxiety or fear, sudden and abundant salivation may be the only clue to their internal stress.
Salivation can precede regurgitation or vomiting and is a nonspecific sign of nausea associated with gastrointestinal upset. In dogs and eats that are unused to car travel, for example, salivation may be emotionally induced by a fear of travel or physically induced by travel sickness or both.
Some dog tweeds such as the St. Bernard and Basset Hound are known for drooling. They appeal to salivate wore than others but the effect is purely mechanical. In dogs with heavy facial fold and drooping flews or lips, drooling is due to the accumulation of saliva into pockets formed by lip folds and the inability to collect it efficiently for swallowing. Drooling may be more pronounced ill some individuals compared to others of the same breed. The constant moisture of the skin can predispose the dog to superficial skin infections and considerable discomfort. Daily hygiene may be all that is needed to control the problem, but antibiotics and plastic surgery to minimize skin folds can be required. Many breeds, characterized by loose skin around the lips and cheeks, are as charming as they are sloppy. Nobody’s perfect.