Dog Dry Mouth: How Xerostomia Affects Your Dog

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You know what to do when your dog drools, but what do you do when he suddenly stops drooling? If your dog is experiencing dry mouth, there could be more serious underlying issues. Learning the possible causes and treatments of dog dry mouth can help you keep your pup at his best.

Xerostomia in Dogs: What Is Dry Mouth?

Dog drool may seem gross at times, but it is a sign that your dog is producing saliva. Saliva helps keep a dog's mouth comfortable. If you're not seeing any slobbering and your dog's mouth seems to be dry, your four-legged companion may have dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Without liquid washing over the teeth to keep them clean, this condition can cause bad breath in both dogs and people. It's not always painful, but xerostomia in dogs can affect swallowing and eating. Besides bad breath, dogs with dry mouth may have sticky, dry-feeling gums, notes Wag!.

It is important to monitor your dog from head to toe on a regular basis. During a wellness visit you may want to ask your veterinarian about normal levels of saliva. If he has dog dry mouth, is it related to his breed, age, diet or something more serious? If your dog's bad breath and dry mouth seems to be getting worse or causing your pet to act differently, then a special trip to the vet is a good idea. It's always better to be safe than sorry, so if something just doesn't seem right, schedule an appointment as soon as you can.

Brown and white shepherd dog licking nose

Common and Uncommon Causes of Dog Dry Mouth

Dog dry mouth can come from a wide variety of environmental and health conditions:

  • Dehydration. This can present itself as a dry dog nose or dry mouth. Dehydration can be dangerous if left untreated, so make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water and has fresh water available at all times. If he seems weak or is having difficulty breathing, take him to the vet right away.
  • Reaction to medication. Certain veterinary medications, such as antihistamines, can cause xerostomia in dogs, according to Animal Planet. If the medication is something your dog will be on long-term, talk with your vet about other options or ways to treat dry mouth concurrently.
  • Cancer treatment. The American Animal Hospital Association notes that "although pets may experience some side effects of treatment, those symptoms are typically milder than symptoms that humans experience, and many pets go into remission after just a few doses of chemotherapy." If your dog is receiving radiation therapy and you notice dry mouth during or even after his treatments, talk to your vet. It is also important to pay attention to whether the dry mouth is happening along with diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues.
  • Abnormal immune reaction. According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, your pup's immune system could be launching an attack on his salivary glands. Your vet can prescribe immunosuppressive medication to help with this issue.
  • Nerve damage. Although this is rare, The Merck Veterinary Manual notes that tumors, surgery complications, and traumatic injuries sometimes cause nerve damage. If that damage is in the eye, mouth, or nose area, the salivary glands could be affected.

Time for Treatment>

Once your vet determines the cause of dog dry mouth, Merck Vet Manuals writes that they may suggest any of the following treatments:

  • Encouraging your dog to drink more water
  • Regular use of mouthwash or dry mouth medication specially formulated for dogs
  • Daily tooth brushing and regular dental cleanings in the vet's office

If you notice your dog producing less saliva than normal, start with getting him to drink more and checking for dehydration. If his dry mouth continues or worsens, it's time to see the vet to determine the cause. Since dry mouth can be a side effect of more serious conditions, it is important to have your vet properly diagnose the issue and recommend a treatment method.

Contributor Bio

Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger is a pet parent that enjoys sharing her home with her furkids, two of her own children and her husband. Chrissie enjoys spending time with all her family members when she is not teaching, writing or blogging. She strives to write articles that help pet owners live a more active and meaningful life with their pets.

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