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You’re pulling your dog’s bedding out of the crate for the second time this week because it’s soaked with drool again. Or maybe you’ve noticed the slobber hanging from their mouth while they’re inside the crate.
You’re wondering why your dog drools so much in their crate, and what you can do to stop it!
As someone with a very drool-y dog, I completely empathize with this. I always hate when I’m sitting near my pup and my hand lands on a puddle of slobber!
It also makes bedding stinkier, and can sometimes require extra clean-up in order to keep a clean crate.
But why do dogs drool in the crate, and is it a problem? The most common cause of excessive drooling in the crate is separation anxiety but it could also be related to anxiety around the crate in general, overheating, or a medical condition. Dogs who have eaten toxic or non-food objects may also drool excessively.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at all the reasons why dogs drool in their crates but first let’s make sure we have some idea of what normal drool looks like.
What Does Normal Dog Drooling Look Like?
If you’re finding patches of drool in your dog’s crate, it isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. All dogs drool to some extent and it’s a normal part of being a dog. While some breeds, like St. Bernards and Mastiffs, are known for drooling more in many cases it’s actually a result of their lip confirmation and not a result of increased drool production.
Because drool is salvia and helps your dog break down and digest their food, it’s totally normal for them to drool before having a meal or a treat. It’s also normal to see more drool after your dog drinks water, especially if your pup has especially large lips or jowls. That’s because water can get stuck in their lips, mix with their salvia and come out as drool.
However, it’s pretty darn difficult to quantify how much drool is normal. There’s no study that I’m aware of and the task of measuring your dog’s drool to figure out what’s normal seems unpleasant at best. That means we’re stuck with eyeballing it and just comparing what we’re seeing in the crate to our dog’s “normal” amount of drool.
Pay attention to changes in the amount of drool before they eat, after they drink and when they’re relaxed to establish a drooling baseline to compare to.
Reason One: Separation Anxiety
The most common reason for excessive drool in the crate is separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is triggered when a dog is separated from their favorite people and dogs suffering from this condition often destroy things around the house, shred bedding, defecate and drool excessively. Separation anxiety is easy to spot in adult dogs and while excessive and uncharacteristic drool is an obvious sign, you can usually spot your dog’s anxiety ramping up before they ever enter their crate.
That’s because dogs with separation anxiety will become more anxious as soon as they see the tell-tale signs that you’re going to be leaving like putting on shoes, collecting a bag, or picking up your keys. Not only will your dog drool, but they may also refuse to enter the crate at all.
While it’s not entirely clear why some dogs struggle with this and others don’t, according to the ASPCA there is a correlation between shelter dogs that have lost important guardians and separation anxiety- which sadly shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
So what can you do about separation anxiety?
You can slowly teach your dog that it’s okay to be alone through training and desensitization that shows them good things can happen when they’re alone. For mild separation anxiety, it can be as simple as introducing a peanut butter-filled Kong or another toy every time you leave the house.
Over time, your dog will learn that your departure is actually a good thing since it means they get to enjoy a treat or their favorite toy. Dogs that drool or urinate in their crate, but not much else, are likely suffering from mild separation anxiety.
Luckily, if you’re here, then that probably describes your dog.
But dogs that try to escape their crate, sometimes to the point of injuring themselves, are suffering from more severe separation anxiety and will require a lot more than just a Kong toy to help them relax. These dogs will need a slow and progressive approach to decreasing stress. You can check the ASPCA’s guide to dealing with separation anxiety for more information.
Reason Two: It Could Be Crate-Related Stress
You might find your dog drooling in their crate even when you’re still home and this could be a result of general stress or anxiety from a wide range of sources.
One of the most likely is anxiety around the crate. Your dog’s crate should be the happiest place on earth for them! Not only that, but it should also be a safe haven from external stress.
As the AKC explains, “Crates help dogs learn to self soothe, or deal with their anxiety, during situations where they become distressed, like during fireworks, a thunderstorm, or construction. Dogs can retreat to their crates when situations are too chaotic or scary.”
But some dogs haven’t had the chance to build these positive associations. In some cases, folks may have even used the crate as a punishment which turns the crate into a negative place instead of the positive refuge that it should be.
If your dog is drooling every time they enter the crate, even if you don’t leave the house or even the room, then there’s a good chance they’ve got some negative associations with their crate. Adding some toys, treats and positive words are always a good idea to try and transform how your dog sees their crate.
You can also check out this video for even more ideas on how to turn the crate into a happy place (with hopefully less drool):
Reason Three: It’s Too Hot!
When dogs get hot, they pant. Panting means your dog’s mouth is going to be open and an open mouth means more drool!
Heatstroke in particular can cause excessive drooling as dogs desperately try to cool down. While it might seem like a stretch to consider that your dog is getting too hot inside your home, it can happen a lot easier than you might think.
For starters, remember that your dog can’t actually move to a cooler spot in the house once they’re inside the crate. You might find that the crate is in the shade during the morning when you leave for work but as the sun moves throughout the day your dog is in direct sunlight. That means you might come home to some extra drool in the crate as your dog works to cool themself off throughout the day.
The risk is even greater for brachycephalic breeds, or those with short muzzles, since they’re particularly sensitive to hot weather. That’s because panting just isn’t as efficient for them and they have a hard time reducing their body temperature.
The first, and easiest, thing to do is make sure your dog’s crate isn’t directly in the sun. From there, make sure your home is at a comfortable temperature. It’s certainly tempting to save on air conditioning when no humans are in the house but your pup still needs to stay cool too!
Reason Four: They Eaten Something Bad or Toxic
When a dog eats poisonous or toxic substances they may drool excessively as a result of an upset stomach. But they could also be drooling if they’ve got something lodged in their throat or mouth.
However, this will be more of a one-off scenario so if you’ve seen your dog drooling every time they enter their crate, this probably isn’t the reason.
But if you’ve come home to a drool-covered dog in a crate, carefully check for anything they could have reached while in their crate or consider what they could have eaten before they entered. You should always consult your veterinarian if you’re not sure and the ASPCA has an extremely comprehensive list of plants and other items that are toxic to pets.
Reason Five: Medical Issues
Medical issues can cause excessive drooling. However, if a medical issue is causing excessive drooling, it’s likely to occur a lot more frequently than just inside the kennel.
Similar to above, if you’ve come home to a drool-covered dog inside their crate then it’s most certainly cause for some concern. There’s a long list of conditions that could cause excessive drool ranging from kidney disease and dental issues to emergencies like bloat.
In cases like this, there’s likely a lot more going on than just drooling and it should be an easy decision to contact your veterinarian.
Should I Be Worried About Drooling In The Crate?
Excessive drooling is always concerning but one of the first things we need to figure out is whether or not it’s medical or behavioral.
Behavioral Causes of Crate Drooling
Behavioral drooling is most often related to anxiety and will consistently occur every time your dog enters the crate. In some cases, it will actually start before they even enter the crate as they read the cues that they’ll soon be put in an anxious position.
While behavioral causes of drooling in the crate are concerning, they’re not a medical emergency. You’ll absolutely want to address the anxiety but it’s a slow process.
Medical Cause of Crate Drooling
These are situations where the drooling has started suddenly and unexpectedly. It could be a result of ingesting something toxic or a medical condition.
But whatever the cause, sudden drooling in the crate or anywhere else is a cause of concern and a reason to contact your veterinarian.
Drooling isn’t exactly the cutest thing that our dogs do. While a nice wet kiss from our pup is adorable in moderation, the drool that goes with it just isn’t!
However, excessive drooling tin the crate is a real cause for concern and either related to medical or more often behavioral concerns.