There are many explanations as to why your dog drools in the car. He could be suffering from motion sickness, feeling stress, thirsty or getting overheated in the car. He could have a bad association with cars and that triggered his fear. Dental problems and salivary glands disorder could be the other reasons.
Getting to know the reasons will certainly help you to adopt the right solutions to eliminate this annoying behavior.
Motion Sickness (Heightened Anxiety)
Dogs get carsick for the same reason people get carsick. It’s because they are experiencing motion sickness!
Motion sickness is a natural reaction of a body to an unnatural or unfamiliar movement or speed.
When your dog is in a moving vehicle, his body naturally tries to keep himself still, and you will find him licking his lips excessively along with drooling as he tries to calm himself. He may even start pooping in the car.
This unpleasantness will continue until your dog gets used to the motion of the car.
There are a few things you can do to help him do away with the motion sickness.
Car In Good Mechanical Condition
The first thing you should do whenever you are about to take your dog out for a car ride is to make sure that the vehicle is in excellent mechanical condition.
This will ensure that the car doesn’t jolt or vibrate too much and cause your dog discomfort.
Get it checked out by a mechanic who is well-versed in motorized vehicles on a routine basis.
Do not drive like you are in a race. Go at a normal pace and don’t make sudden stops. This will startle your dog and cause him to drool more.
Instead, apply the brakes gradually and let the car slowly come to a stop.
This will give your dog time to adjust and won’t cause him to have much discomfort.
Give Him Something To Occupy His Mind
Give your dog something (such as a chewing toy) to chew on when you are driving.
This will keep him distracted and prevent him from drooling since his mind is preoccupied with the toy.
Don’t scold your dog for drooling in the car. This will only make things worse, and you will make him even more nervous.
Instead, give him something to chew on to stop his drooling and keep his mouth “busy”.
Make Frequent STOPS In The Ride
Make sure that you have frequent stops if the car ride is going to be a long one.
You see, when your dog is in the car, he will easily get carsick if he is not used to the car motion.
Therefore, it is imperative that he has frequent breaks so that he is given the opportunity to run around, stretch his legs and body and do whatever else he needs to do to make him feel calm.
This will also give him time to “re-set” his internal clock.
Avoid Giving Him Food Before The Ride
When your dog goes for a car ride right after his meal, that could make him feel nauseous as the car drives over those bumps.
This is caused by the queasy feeling in his stomach with the food he just ate (which has probably not yet digested).
This makes him more vulnerable to car sickness, and he starts drooling along the way.
If your dog starts to feel queasy or gets carsick, you would be better off stopping the car and taking a break until he feels better.
The last thing you want to do is have your dog sit in a car for hours with his saliva all over the seat.
Feeling Stress (Due To Unknown Trip)
If this is the first time that your dog is taking a car ride, it is inevitable that he will feel stressed and drooling is one of his ways to express his nervousness.
There are many reasons why your dog feels stressed when he is in the car.
The most common explanation is that he is in a new environment (car) and he is not sure what is going to happen to him.
He is feeling a sense of loss and insecurity.
He doesn’t know where he is going or how long he will be there. It just makes him feel anxious and fearful.
It is like being in a foreign country without any guide books. You don’t know the language, the customs, the rules or even the laws. It’s scary.
Your dog is highly dependent on you for everything. What you should do is to reassure him in a calm and firm tone so that he knows that he can depend on you.
Stroke his head and rub his back and give him lots of love and praise.
Do this often (not only when he is in the car) and your pup will quickly learn that he can count on you for comfort and reassurance.
You should also give him chewing toys to keep him occupied or have him in a portable crate that he is familiar with. This will help to make the trip a little less stressful for him.
The bottom line is that your dog needs to be comfortable, secure and happy while taking a car ride and the crate offers a sense of security for him when he is there.
You can also roll down the windows so that he gets to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the sight. This will also help to calm him down.
When he is not feeling stress, he will be less likely to drool.
Feeling Thirsty (Drooling To Keep Mouth Moisture)
If your dog just had his play, and you put him in a car, he would likely start drooling.
This is because he feels thirsty after the play and if he is not given the chance to drink water, he will start drooling as this is a natural reflex triggered by his dry mouth and throat.
Salivating helps to moisten his mouth and throat, thus preventing them from drying out.
What you should do is to ensure that your dog gets adequate fresh plain water daily, in particular if he is engaging in any physical exercise or outdoor games under a hot sun.
This will prevent him from drooling in the car when you take him out for a car ride after his playtime.
Of course, his thirst may be further heightened by his excitement during a car ride, so make it a point to offer him a small cup of water right before the ride.
I personally keep a water bottle in my car just in case my dog needs an extra drink.
How much water should a dog drink?
A dog should generally drink one ounce of water (1/8 cup) for each pound of body weight each day.
Nevertheless, there are many contributing factors, such as his breed, size, age, activity level, amount of water lost through perspiration and urination, fluid intake from food and water sources other than water, and so on that you will need to take into consideration.
To Cool Down (Drooling To Lower Temperature)
If your car is under the sun for a long period of time, you should not let your dog get into the car immediately for a ride.
Your dog will be drooling because he is feeling uncomfortable with the hot temperature in the car.
You see, when your car gets too hot, what your dog will do is to stick out his tongue and start drooling in an attempt to cool him down.
What you should do is to immediately take him out of the car for some cool air.
Open the car window and turn on the air conditioner to “cool” down the car before getting him back to the car again.
If you find that the car’s temperature is acceptable, but your dog is still showing signs of discomfort and drooling, he could be suffering from what is known as hyperthermia.
It is a condition where your dog’s body temperature is much higher than normal.
This can occur when there is an imbalance in your dog’s electrolyte level.
When this happens, his body tries to “flush out” the excess fluids by increasing his temperature.
Signs of hyperthermia include panting, excessive drooling, weakness, lack of coordination, vomiting and diarrhea.
If your dog displays any of these symptoms, you should immediately take him to your vet.
Bad Association With Car (Makes Him Fearful)
Your dog could have a bad association with cars and the moment he is in the car, he will feel extremely nervous and start drooling.
This is especially so if your dog is a rescue dog, as he might have associated a car with going to a shelter or seeing a vet.
What you should do is to gradually desensitize your dog from his fear of being in a car.
Start by taking short trips in the car with just the two of you around the neighborhood.
As he gets more comfortable in the car, you can add longer drives and bring him to his favorite dog park.
This will make him feel that a car ride is not that scary as he gets to visit his favorite places.
In time, his bad association with cars will gradually fade away, and he will become perfectly comfortable in a car ride.
If the drooling keeps happening again and again (even when he is not on a ride), you should pay attention to other signals that your dog may be giving you.
He could be feeling unwell and suffering from some health related complications such as cancer, infection, kidney or liver disease.
His excessive drooling could also be triggered by his salivary glands disorder.
Salivary glands are in charge of producing saliva and when it provides more saliva than what your dog can swallow, drooling will start to occur.
Dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, or even a toothache can irritate your dog’s mouth and cause him to drool as well.
Lastly, if your dog is on certain medications such as anti-anxiety drugs, blood pressure and heart medications, it is possible that his drooling is the result of these medication side effects. This is something you should discuss with your vet.
In either case, you should take your dog to the vet right away if he starts drooling a lot and persistently!