Why Does My Dog Drool When Sniffing (Solved and Explained)

Why does my dog drool when sniffing? There are many reasons why a dog might drool when sniffing something. But why does your dog do it? What’s the story behind this drooling canine behavior?


Some dogs drool because they’re producing and slobbering to mark territory, communicate with other animals, or just to attract an opposite sex.

Some breeds are more prone to this trait than others. Other breeds can be drooly because of hormonal changes during birth and puberty which cause them to produce excess saliva.

This is especially true for German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Mastiffs, or Bullmastiffs.

Drooling is a common dog behavior that can be frustrating and embarrassing to homeowners. A dog can drool when it is excited, stressed, or when it is trying to eat something.

The behavior can be a sign of many things, including a dental problem, allergies, disease, pain, or even a brain injury

Most Common Causes & Considerations For Drooling

There are many reasons why your dog may be drooling when sniffing something. Here are some of the most common:

1. Is your pooch excited, nervous or afraid
If your dog is barking, whining or seems to act as if he is excited, nervous or afraid then he will be drooling.

This happens a lot to dogs when they are around other dogs, people or new objects.

They are in a heightened state of emotion which they cannot control and the excitement leaks out through their mouths with the production of saliva.

This is often termed “submissive salivation”. It can also be seen when your dog is getting ready to play with you.  It’s an indicator that he is happy and excited to see you and wants to play.

2. Does your dog have a medical issue that can cause drooling
If your dog has any medical condition that causes excessive drooling you should consult with the vet.

However, not all drooling is a medical issue and some dogs produce quite a lot of saliva when they are happy or excited.

Other dogs may just swallow their saliva at times when they are happy or excited and so are not producing it in the mouth but it ends up as saliva on their tongue and lips.

3. Is he hot and drooling?
If your dog is hot, panting heavily and drooling there is a good chance that he may have an overheating issue.

Dogs don’t sweat as we do so they can only cool themselves by panting and their tongue will often hang out of their mouth as they do so.

If you are walking your dog in very hot conditions take care to keep a close eye on him.

If he appears to be having trouble breathing stop walking immediately, get him into the shade and onto some cooler ground such as grass if possible.

Offer him some water to drink and allow him to rest until he has cooled down sufficiently prior to continuing with the walk.

4. Just how much does he drool?
Your dog may seem to drool a lot for no particular reason. It’s important to know if this is normal for him or if it is an indication of some underlying medical condition that needs treatment.

When in doubt always consult with the vet. It is normal for dogs to occasionally drool when drinking water.

However, it can also happen when they are sniffing something or eating a treat so you need to observe what causes the issue so you can rule out certain things and know what is causing the drooling in your dog.

5. Does he have dental issues?
If your dog has a dental condition that is causing him to drool you need to carefully observe him when he is thirsty and see if he does the same thing.

If so, take him to see the vet as soon as possible. It could be the start of an infection and if you don’t rule out certain things it can become serious.

6. Does he have an illness of some kind?
Many dogs either see a vet at some point during their lives or they die from something they catch before then due to an illness that their current immune system cannot fight off.

Other dogs may simply have too much saliva in their mouths which causes them to drool more than usual.

This may be from an underlying condition such as a thyroid condition or nasal obstruction which causes the dog to gag and cough as well.

If your dog has not been to the vet recently for any reason then it is worth checking out with them just to be safe.

If he has been to the vet recently and is healthy and healthy again it’s unlikely that he would suddenly develop a new illness.

However, if he has a history of illnesses of some kind and is still drooling, panting heavily or being nervous in situations previously completely uninvolved with his previous illnesses you need to seek some advice from a vet immediately.

7. Does your dog drool when drinking water as well as when sniffing things?
If your dog is healthy then you do not have anything to worry about here. Many dogs also drool when drinking water.

It’s why we often see them with their tongues hanging out of their mouths as they drink on a hot day.

However, if you have tried to check out the different things that can cause drooling in dogs and this still causes drooling then you should consult with the vet just to be safe, especially if your dog is panting heavily or salivating heavily when drinking water.

8. Is he drooling with his mouth closed or open
If your dog is salivating or drooling while eating treats, sniffing at something (even if it’s not something food-related) or drinking water this can be normal for him and you don’t need to worry about anything.

9. Does your dog have allergies?
Many dogs with fleas will develop allergy problems with the flea. Some of these allergy problems can be quite severe.

A dog that is allergic to the flea is pretty miserable and will not be able to properly care for their home, or even themselves, because of the irritation.

10. Is your dog drooling or panting?
Your dog should not be panting in any situation. But the drool from a dog with fleas can be excessive, and this may be a sign that there are fleas.

The drool may appear to be a lack of control, or it can indicate diarrhoea.

11. Does the drool smell bad?
You will need to place your hand on your dog’s face and sniff for what is called “drooling salivary odor” or “drool odor” [essentially the strong odors of saliva].

Like a bad-smelling human mouth, the smell can be somewhat repulsive, but luckily it is a very easy thing to do and the odor isn’t normally present on most dogs.

12. Hungry
Dogs can often drool when they are hungry. Drooling is a symptom of hunger.

If the dog has not been fed for a while and begins to drool, this is a strong indicator of hunger as well.

Dogs can also dribble saliva when they are turned on by food. Their mouths will water and they will elongate their necks and lick their lips when food is presented.

This can be seen in dogs who receive treats for training (clicker training).

13. Thirsty
Dogs often drool when they are thirsty as well. If the dog licks its mouth, lips and tongue in anticipation of water or drinks more than usual, this indicates thirst as well.

If the dog licks its face, lips and tongue to cool down after being in a warm environment, this indicates thirst as well.

14. Hot and bothered
Dogs often drool when they are hot as well. If the dog is overheated and panting, they will often lick their face as well.

This is because saliva evaporates faster at higher temperatures.

Similarly, dogs often roll around in their cage or bed to try to cool off if it is hot outside. The saliva that drips from the dogs nose will evaporate and cause them to drool more so if the temperature increases too much.

15. Medicines and supplements
Dogs often drool when they are taking syrup, vitamins or supplements.

16. Respiratory problems and infections
Dogs who have respiratory problems often drool because of the discomfort that most respiratory problems cause.

Similarly, dogs with mouth infections also tend to drool a lot as the infection causes irritation in the mouth area causing them to slobber more than usual.

17. Older dogs tend to slobber more than younger ones do
Older dogs are more likely to drool because of the changes that come with ageing.

A dog’s mouth dries out as they age, so the dog is more likely to salivate excessively. Once they become dehydrated, this can cause them to drool even more.

As dogs age, their circulation slows down, making them cold and uncomfortable.

Cooling themselves off causes them to sweat and pant which will cause them to drool as well as pant heavily due to being out of breath and possibly some discomfort from this too.

Dogs who are older tend to drool more due to their teeth, which can be a source of discomfort if their teeth are too long.

This can be seen in some breeds, such as the pug and the bulldog. They may also have trouble chewing food which will cause them to drool more than usual.

Age-related ailments also play a role in salivation in dogs.

18. Is your dog just stressed?
Some dogs may drool when they are simply stressed out by their surroundings, such as when they have been taken to an unfamiliar place, or when there are too many people and other dogs around and they are not comfortable with this yet.

19. Canine compulsive disorder
Dogs who have canine compulsive disorder (CCD), also referred to as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans, will often engage in repetitive behaviors such as excessive grooming or tail chasing.

They can also salivate excessively if they are experiencing this problem, which may indicate a more serious problem.

What to do?

The first thing you should do is examine your dog’s mouth and teeth to ensure that there are no underlying problems causing the excessive drooling.

Check their teeth for broken or chipped teeth or large overgrown molars and grinders which could cause them pain when they chew.

If you notice that their eyes are watery, they cough or gag, or if they have nasal discharge, this is a sign of an underlying problem. Make sure that your dog is well hydrated to help with the problem as well.

The next thing you should do is check your dog’s medication to ensure that the excessive drooling is not caused by it.

If it is, ask your veterinarian about switching medications to one that does not cause this side effect.

If the drooling continues for an extended period of time or worsens despite treatment, you should consult a veterinarian and check for any underlying conditions causing the excessive salivation in your dog.


If you are worried about your dog drooling then you should consult with a vet as soon as possible.

It could be an indication of something serious and you need to rule out this possibility before it is too late to do anything about it.

Many dogs can develop conditions like heart disease, kidney failure or cancer that cause excessive drooling so if your dog is currently healthy and suddenly starts developing problems with excessive drooling then you need to seek advice from a specialist vet.

It’s just worth having a check around as a precaution until they can rule out any underlying problems.

Excessive salivation in dogs should never be ignored or left untreated.

Make sure you get in touch with a skilled professional who can properly diagnose and treat your pet if they are having excessive salivation issues.


American Kennel Club

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