If your dog keeps swallowing saliva, most likely there is some issue localized in your dog's mouth, throat or stomach. Along with swallowing saliva, your dog may also be also acting distressed, asking to go outside or coming to you as if pleading for help. Deprived from the gift of voice, dogs communicate their discomfort in different ways and it is up to us owners, with the help of the vet, deciphering what may be going on. A dog gulping down saliva repeatedly may be an isolated episode that will resolve on its own or something more troublesome that may require veterinary attention. To play it safe, it's always best to see the vet.
A Case of Nausea
Just as it happens in humans, a dog's mouth may fill with saliva when they start feeling nauseous. Wait, but don't people and dogs salivate when they'e anticipating tasty food? Nope, turns out it happens too when your stomach is queasy and you are getting ready to barf.
There's a good reason why this happens, and it's all courtesy of the body implementing effective protective mechanisms. Vomit is highly acidic, and in its concentrating form, it can be harmful for the delicate mucosa of the dog's throat and mouth, but also to the enamel of the teeth.
By salivating, the body therefore helps reduce this harmful effect by rinsing and diluting. On top of that, since saliva is also weakly alkaline, it can also help neutralize the acid, explains Luis Villazon, a science writer with an MSc in zoology from Oxford, in an article for Science Focus.
If your dog is swallowing repeatedly, he may therefore be suffering from nausea. Your dog may instinctively try to make himself vomit by eating grass or by licking the carpet or floors if he doesn't have access to any grass.
The nausea therefore may be the result of ingesting something that didn't agree with your dog's stomach. It may be your dog got into something or you changed his diet too quickly or maybe he got into something toxic. Nausea, with its accompanying drooling, is also seen in several medical conditions such as liver or kidney problems, pancreatitis, intestinal blockages, and even a life-threatening condition known as "bloat." Bloat tends to affect more large, deep-chested dogs and can turn fatal in a matter of hours.
If your dog manages to vomit, chances are, he might get back to his usual self in no time, but it's always best to see the vet if your dog has nausea that doesn't resolve or is accompanied by other symptoms.
A Case of GERD
GERD, stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is basically a case of acid reflux. Just as in humans, dogs can suffer from heartburn as well. The reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus may lead to a case of inflammation, and in the long term, even the formation of ulcers.
Affected dogs will tend to salivate and acid may be brought up which leads to gulping and licking lips. Dogs with GERD may also lose their appetite and vomit or regurgitate.
Eating grass or licking walls, floors and carpets is not unusual. Some dogs develop symptoms mostly at night or early morning when their stomach has been empty for some time.
Treatment often involves tackling the underlying cause (if found), and protecting the esophagus. Following a dog acid reflux diet and administering drugs meant to reduce gastric acid secretion, is generally the traditional treatment. There are also some home remedies for dog acid reflux as well for owners who may want to give them a try. For the time being, giving some bread soaked in a little bit of milk may provide relief.
A Problem in the Mouth
In some cases, when a dog keeps swallowing saliva, the issue may stem from the mouth. The dog may have a dental problem or gum disease (periodontal disease). If your dog allows you to inspect the mouth (avoid this if your dog is reluctant or aggressive), look for signs of gum disease such as presence of tartar on the teeth, red, swollen gums, bad breath and darkened teeth.
Some times, excessive saliva and associated swallowing may be due to the presence of broken teeth or some foreign item stuck between the teeth. If you happen to find something stuck within the dog's teeth, you can try to remove it if your dog allows it. Sometimes, presence of a mass or swelling may cause excess salivation. At other times, ingesting a foxtail may be the culprit.
Sometimes, the issue may stem from a salivary gland. In this case, you would have to check for a swelling under your dog’s jawbone and a swelling under your dog’s tongue. If there is swelling, there are chances that the swallowing behavior may be caused by a sialocele. This is a condition that should be addressed right away.
Licking anything that may be irritating to the mouth, throat or stomach may also cause excess salivation. Ingesting something toxic may do this.
Other Possible Causes if Your Dog Keeps Swallowing Saliva
When a dog keeps swallowing saliva, there may be an issue with the throat. Sometimes, excessive swallowing may take place when a dog ingests something sharp (bone fragment, stick particles) that may have scratched the throat.
Inflammation of the throat such as pharyngitis or tonsillitis or other problems with the trachea can be other culprits. For mild cases, giving a dog a small amount of honey in warm water can sooth the throat if irritated.
In some cases, the trigger may be an underlying problem located deeper down the digestive tract. Veterinarian Dr. Deb calls these episodes "licky fits" and claims that every dog may have a different underlying cause. She lists motility disorders, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and gas buildup as some potential causes.
In some instances, some vets have categorized these episodes as a form of a neurological disorder. More precisely, partial seizure activity. If the episodes never recur again with the use of anti-seizure medication, then that could prove the diagnosis.
As seen, there are several potential causes when a dog keeps swallowing saliva. Short-lived episodes may resolve on their owner, but if they repeat or do not resolve, a vet's attention should be sought for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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