Surgery to Prevent Dog Drooling: Helpful or Cruel?

Some people think drool is cool, and others love to hate it. Surgery offers another option beyond the drool rag — but would you go that far?

Do you think drool is cool? Photo: State Farm

If you’re the parent of a dog that drools, you probably have 1 of 3 views about drool:

  1. “Drool is cool!”
  2. “It comes with the breed, so I deal with it.”
  3. “Ugh, I’ll do anything to make it stop!”

Drool School

Dogs have 4 pairs of salivary glands, and they secrete fluid that lubricates what they eat and helps with digestion. Drooling is a natural function of a dog.

The frequency and amount of drool can vary based on the breed or facial features, but it’s not something dogs do voluntarily or on purpose to annoy you. Drooling occurs in response to food and treats (or anticipating them), mouth pain, abscessed teeth or stomatitis.


Excessive drooling is called hypersalivation. A long list of ailments can cause hypersalivation:

  • Fear
  • Apprehension
  • Anxiety
  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Heat stroke
  • Motion sickness
  • Tranquilizers
  • Poisons
  • Foreign body in the mouth
  • Gum infection
  • Mouth tumors
  • Mouth injuries or lesions
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Inflammation
  • Bloat
  • Megaesophagus
  • Ulcer
  • Injured or dead tissue

With this extensive list, it is easy to see that many things can cause a lot of drool. If your dog normally doesn’t drool and suddenly turns on the waterworks, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian. See the vet if even your drooling dog starts dripping like a faucet.

And sometimes, dogs just drool. Here’s Walter demonstrating a double-shoestring drool:

YouTube player


Drool Surgeries

Reasons for surgery that is preceded by excessive drool might include:

  • Cysts, tumors or swollen glands
  • Deformity
  • Illness
  • Foreign objects
  • Injuries
  • Pain alleviation
  • Treat another medical issue

The other surgeries aren’t called drool surgeries, but they are two operations that have been referenced in reducing drool. The first surgery removes excess skin from the mouth. Depending on the breed and the amount and location of the excess skin, this can lessen the drool escaping from your pooch’s mouth.

The other option surgically tucks the pendulous (drooping) lip folds into the upper jaw. The goal with both surgeries is to alter the mouth to prevent — or at least reduce — excessive drooling.

Although some people may see these operations as alterations, many others may see them as deforming a dog. Plastic or optional surgery and procedures on dogs are contentious subjects. There have been countless arguments over other procedures, such as ear cropping, tail docking and debarking procedures. Tail docking has been banned in some European countries (with the exception of working dogs), and it is rare to hear of a dog being debarked anymore — that’s good news.

Drool is nothing new, and it’s here to stay as long as we have dogs as companions.

If you are a fan of the slobber, then you’ll love Slobber Appreciation Day. My Brown Newfies blogger Jennifer Costello, who writes occasional articles here at Petful, has dedicated this day annually to honor the drooling dogs of the world.