You may be wondering why your dog seems to drool and slobber every time he sees food. Is it normal for dogs to do this? Is it something that happens involuntarily? Is it possible to stop and if so, how would you do so? Well, here’s everything you’ll want to know.
So, why do dogs drool when they see food? Dogs drool when they see food, usually as an automatic reaction to the smell. They are anticipating a pleasurable event: eating! If your dog is staring at your food and drooling, he is probably hoping he’ll get a taste of whatever you’re having.
Dogs remember highly enjoyable events like getting table scraps, so they’ll salivate in anticipation of a repeat experience.
It’s actually something dogs do when they are excited, in general.
You might have already noticed this by now.
Besides, dogs can drool at the strangest of times.
Or at least to us.
But do all dogs experience this and if so, a similar amount?
Well, let us continue to explore food drooling so that you can understand it. Or at least, know how to respond when the time comes!
Is It Normal for Dogs to Drool Over Food?
It’s perfectly normal for dogs to drool over food, given their psychology and biology.
Just like us, dogs produce saliva.
Saliva is mostly water (98%), but it also has essential elements for promoting good health: electrolytes, enzymes, and antibacterial compounds.
For people, the enzyme amylase in saliva initiates digestion by mixing with food while we chew and breaking down the food.
However, for dogs, their saliva doesn’t contain amylase. The purpose of dog saliva for digestion is to lubricate the chewed food so that it goes down easily.
When we smell freshly baked bread, frying bacon, or other favorite foods, we may salivate in anticipation of the taste.
Dogs are just like us in this respect, although they’re much more sensitive to smells.
While humans have 400 scent receptors, dogs have more than 200 million!
This could explain their heightened reaction when they smell their food, your food, or even when they hear you opening their bag of dog food.
Simply put, it’s normal for dogs to drool over food because their bodies are getting ready to eat.
Their physiology reacts as if they’re already eating.
Because saliva (or drool) is crucial to the digestive process, your dog will drool at the sight or smell of food because his body is getting ready to digest it before it even reaches his mouth!
If you have a breed of dog that drools excessively because of the shape of his mouth, you will probably see even more drool when he anticipates food.
Do Dogs Drool for Food?
Dogs don’t drool for food – in other words, they don’t start drooling to try to get you to feed them. They drool at the thought of food, at the anticipation of it. In their minds, there’s no question of whether they’ll get the food or not. They’re already imagining it in their mouths!
Even if you never feed your dog scraps from the table, every time a bit of food falls to the floor, your dog is likely to drool in hope and anticipation of a tasty tidbit.
Dogs can drool for a few other reasons, none of which are food-related but are useful to know.
If your dog is nowhere near food and he starts drooling, it could be because:
- He has a dental problem (this is the most common cause when dogs drool excessively and they’re not around food)
- He’s nervous, anxious, or stressed
- He’s uncomfortable (for instance, too hot)
- He’s eaten something he shouldn’t (including something poisonous)
- He’s nauseous (some dogs get car sick!)
- Something is stuck in his mouth, throat, or between his teeth
- He’s excited or very happy
- He is ill (excessive drooling can be a sign of liver disease or even kidney failure)
If your dog is drooling more than he usually does, and you suspect it could be related to his health, get him to the vet for a checkup.
Do Dogs Drool If Hungry?
Dogs do drool when they’re hungry, usually because they associate the hungry feelings with food coming soon. They will then anticipate a meal and start to drool.
Some dogs seem to drool not only when they’re hungry, but at other times, too.
Some breeds (such as hunting dogs) drool more than others because of the shapes of their mouths.
Their mouths literally can’t hold in the amount of saliva that they produce, so they’ll drool not only when they’re hungry but at other times, too.
Here are some breeds who are heavy droolers: these breeds will definitely drool even more when hungry!
- Saint Bernards. Known as gentle giants, Saint Bernards are very prone to drooling because of their rather large jowls.
- Bloodhounds. Bloodhounds will have a higher tendency to drool because they have long faces. They also have a very highly developed sense of smell, as they’re hunting dogs.
- Mastiffs. Mastiffs have not only large jowls, but they are loose with wrinkles. They also have loose lips. These huge dogs are definitely heavy droolers, as their mouths just aren’t built to hold saliva in.
- Bulldogs. Bulldogs can drool more than other breeds due to their slight underbite. Their mouths don’t seal as well as other breeds, so their saliva tends to dribble out.
How To Stop A Dog From Drooling Over Food
You can never entirely stop a dog from drooling over food (it is, after all, an involuntary reaction). However, there are several ways to reduce the overall amount of drool your dog produces, or at least deal with it more effectively.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Make sure to provide your dog with plenty of fresh water all day. Staying well-hydrated can help calm down the salivary response somewhat. You can add some ice cubes to your dog’s water in very warm weather.
Be sure to change the water frequently so that it stays clean and your dog doesn’t ingest unnecessary bacteria.
Keep Your Dog Cool
Any excess heat will add to your dog’s drooling, whether there’s food around or not. You can try air conditioning in hot weather to help your dog stay cool, and avoid exertion during the very warmest parts of the day.
Try A Bib
If your dog still drools a lot despite your best efforts, you may want to tie a trendy bandana or a bib around their necks at mealtimes.
Wipe His Mouth
After playtime or at other times when your dog is drooling a lot, try wiping his mouth to help him with the excess saliva.
Put Him In A Quiet Place During Meals
You may wish to put your dog in a quiet place while you are entertaining guests. That way, he won’t have the temptation of people food making him drool.
If he’s easily excitable at the thought of visitors, try settling him down before people arrive.
Get him used to relaxing in a quiet place that he associates with good things (like treats!) You can then settle him in before your guests come in.
You may wish to have a towel nearby when you’re making the food beforehand, though!
Give Your Dog A Task While You Eat
You may wish to give your dog a job or something else to do while you eat to help him focus on something other than food.
Try training your dog to do something specific such as lay on a mat or go to his spot. Once he’s in his spot, give him something he’ll enjoy.
Chew toys can work well, such as dog teddies that squeak or hard bones to chew.
Just be sure that whatever you give your dog to chew on has been made for dogs.
Dogs have very powerful jaws, and they can shred things to ribbons or splinters, so keep your dog safe by providing appropriate toys and chews.
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Otherwise, you could give him something as simple as some frozen cubes of chicken or beef broth (with a bowl or towel underneath).
By getting your dog to focus on something other than food, you are helping make mealtimes more enjoyable while still providing your dog with the stimulation and comfort he needs.
Feed Your Dog At The Same Time
If you feed everyone at the same time, your dog will be less likely to sit staring (and drooling) at your food.
He may still be drooling, but at least he’ll be doing it in front of his own food bowl rather than at your feet.
You can offer him a full meal or a tasty snack – either could be enough to distract him from your table.
Try Using Food Puzzles
Instead of meals, you could try feeding your dog from food puzzles.
By using a food puzzle, you’ll be making your dog work for his food, providing essential mental stimulation.
Some food puzzles make your dog move them around with his paws and jaw to get at the treats inside.
Others allow you to fill them with moist treats such as peanut butter, making your dog lick and chew to get the goodies out.
Once again, your dog may still drool – you can never stop drooling entirely – but you can reduce the amount that falls on your lap!
Dogs drool over food.
That’s something that is instinctual and will always like happen, to some extent.
That being said, some breeds certainly drool more than others.
And drooling can indicate something is wrong too. So be mindful of that.
But for the most part a little drooling here and there; well it’s to be expected.
Want to continue researching drooling in dogs? Then my other guides may be of interest:
- Why Does My Dog Drool Around Other Dogs? [Top 5 Reasons]
- Why Do Dogs Drool When Excited? [And How To Calm Them]
- Do Puppies Drool When Teething? [Or Is It Something Else?]
- Dog Is Drooling Clear Slime [Why & What To Do]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.