View Full Version : Excessive drooling - vet fears SM??!

Lady Hoop
27th September 2012, 04:45 AM
As some of you know, Lady has started going to doggie daycare this week. I believe she has enjoyed it and I have heard great things about the Doc. I decided to call today and figured why not get a second opinion on something I've kept an eye on recently.

Lady seems to be drooling a lot lately. She drools all day long and only from one side. She has always done this since we brought her home, but very little. The strange thing is that it is increasingly worse as she gets older. She drools so much now that it, at times, drips onto the floor. We usually wad up a paper towel and soak it up. I have seen the vet about it and also asked her ophthalmologist last week at her follow up. The vet was stumped. Her ophthalmologist said it's not related to her KCS or micropthalmia and it's more than likely just an oddity. To me, this is not normal and it's concerned me more and more every day. Her throat, ear and mouth has been thoroughly checked over and over again.

I called today and asked this new Doc to check her out while she was there for daycare. When I went in to pick her up he had discouraging news. He seemed stumped, but very eager to get to the bottom of the issue. He said, at this point, he has two possibilities he's concerned about, but he's almost 100% positive it's b/c she's in pain for some reason.

The possibilities he expressed: 1) She is drooling because of pain associated with her eye. The only strange thing about this is when she was testing 2mm of tears on eye test, her drooling was intermittent and minimal. Now she tests 16mm and drools more than ever? I'm unsure about that theory. That doesn't make sense to me 2) Although he knows it is not a symptom of SM, something is pushing him to explore that direction.

I was surprised how knowledgable he was about Cavaliers. He told me about studies he has followed regarding SM and told me about 2 Cav patients he has right now with SM. He recently sent one of his SM patients for decompression surgery. Needless to say, this will now be Lady's new general Doc.

I'm saddened that his gut is telling him this, though I know he really has no reason to think it besides an obvious (from the drooling) underlying pain. He inspected her ears, eyes, teeth and throat. He said that everything looked fine so all of those factors were ruled out. He gave her a non-drowsy anti-inflammatory pain injection and wanted me to evaluate her tonight. Unfortunately, she ran full speed after one of the cats after we got home and ran smack dab into the wall (seriously? poor thing. What else!?!?!?! They stained her eye so I'm sure she was still blurry). That really ticked her off and she decided she was going to bed at that point so I've had little chance to evaluate. From what I did see, she drooled less.

I'm reaching out the best place I know for any insight. I'll tell you what I've noticed recently.

- Drooling, every day, excessively
- Just starting this week - rubs her head on the carpet and grass as soon as she gets home from daycare. Both sides. Rather frantically. She will do this for minutes. I'm so worried she will rub her bad eye out of its socket that I encourage her to STOP!
- Almost every night before she settles down to sleep at night in the bed she scratches her neck/ear area. Normally the same side she drools on. I'm starting to think it's a ritual. She does not do this for very long.
- Just starting this week - I've also noticed she uses her back legs to paw/scratch at the front her mouth while at the same time biting/nipping her paw. This happens when sleepy as well. It's not very puppy like...more like she does it out of annoyance/irritated/restless. She did this about an hour ago for a good few minutes until I started scratching her neck.
- When she is sleeping 70% of the time her head is stretched or elevated as possible

I hope I'm overreacting and so is the Doc. I wanted to evaluate her tonight so I didn't go into great detail about the above observations I've had. I will see him again tomorrow.

I fear that being 6 months this could mean she's a severe case if diagnosed. Thoughts appreciated. So defeated right now. I was so happy we got over the eye hump :( :( :( I'm torn up that he thinks her drooling is pain. That would mean constant pain. The thought makes me nauseous.

Lady Hoop
27th September 2012, 06:39 AM
By the way, here's the Bug as of late at 6 mths. Melts my heart.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8309/8028727310_8f3f52f321_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/5hoops/8028727310/)
Untitled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/5hoops/8028727310/) by Lady Hoop (http://www.flickr.com/people/5hoops/), on Flickr

27th September 2012, 01:08 PM
I really don't have any advice for you other than the drooling would indicate pain to me too. You are being a VERY good cavalier Mommy to check and re-check it out. If she were mind I would be wanting an MRI for sure cause I hope its to rule out SM/CM but you know this breed too the odds are never in their favor. HOWEVER, remember SM/CM is treatable there are many many cavaliers living with this condition who are happy and pain-free dogs.

27th September 2012, 01:20 PM
There is a conduit from the eye to the back of the mouth. I would guess she's reacting to the eye medication.

It's mentioned in here:


27th September 2012, 01:38 PM
A friend of mine had an issue with an excessively drooling dog(toy breed but not a cavalier).
Turned out to be a condition called salivary mucocele.
It responded to antibiotic treatment,but if your vet has checked your cavalier's mouth thoroughly,they would most likely have picked up on this.Could still be a blockage somewhere in a salivary gland,making it accumulate elsewhere.
cavaliers are nototious for scavenging and chewing and may have done a minor injury to the mouth area.
You could maybe check for a small swelling under the neck area?If the problem persists,you could mention it to the vet and see if it's a possible cause.

27th September 2012, 08:30 PM
Hoping it's not serious. The bit about her rubbing her head, starting this week--make sure the doctor considers whether there's something at the daycare that could be irritating her. The timing of this starting is so close to her beginning daycare that the question should be asked.

With a patient that can't tell you how she's feeling, IMO overreacting isn't so bad. Better to be thorough and double check everything.

Glad you found such a knowledgable vet for your little "bug." She's a cutie.

27th September 2012, 08:56 PM
It is interesting that you mention this. I have recently been told that a neurologist in the UK noted to a board member that she sees a LOT of facial paralysis, to varying degrees, in cavaliers. I have also heard this from a different neurologist. The board member says the neurologist believes a couple of her cavaliers have some facial paralysis and drooling like this is the main signs they have; hence the diagnosis.

This has been known to be related to syringomyelia and the chiari malformation (which both of the mentioned dogs have). I would guess that as the breed already has an almost 100% rate of the malformation, and such a high rate of SM, that this is yet another potential (and apparently, regularly seen) neurological outcome from these issues although it has not been widely listed as a symptom. :(

Almost all the other signs you are noting are consistent with syringomyelia -- so I would at least want to have a clinical visit (if not an MRI) with a neurologist given the broad set of potential SM symptoms you have noted. If an MRI is too [prohibitive I would definitely want to try to see if you could work with a specialist to try some of the medications used for the condition to see if it halts some of these things. Medications will not address the facial paralysis, if that is what is causing the drooling.

27th September 2012, 11:59 PM
I am assuming the doc really checked her teeth? Toby drooled so much when we adopted him, then we discovered some tooth issues.

He also drools when he is anxious. Will be dry, the boom, drooling - and we can always tie it to an anxious situation. That is not uncommon either.

28th September 2012, 04:32 PM
I don't want to dimish the possibility of SM but drooling is a response to excitement or nervousness. Since her excess drooling started the same time as doggy daycare I would assume it is associated with the daycare. My boy drools excessively when we go to the dog park and when we get home he wipes his face on the carpet just as you describe. I would give your girl some more time with the daycare and see if as she gets used to the situation her drooling drops off.

I don't know about the one sided drooling, but since you said she has had this for a long time I assume she was born with a defect in some way with her salvary gland or something else.

Lady Hoop
1st October 2012, 07:32 PM
Sins, This seems to make the most sense to me. It just doesn't seem to me like SM is my answer. Though the symptoms I listed may lead me to believe that, I just don't, in my heart, think that's it.

I feel like the other symptoms I listed can be related to other things, maybe even some OCD type habits/tendencies. She hasn't rubbed her head on the carpet or grass anymore...she seemed to only do that after arriving home from daycare. Maybe she wanted to get the scent of daycare off of her and get the scent of home back on it. She is reallllly big on our scent and laying on our clothes, shoes and pillows we sleep on. She may just prefer to smell like home! She is in the very lanky and teenager-like awkward stage right now so she's maybe sleeping funny and stretched out due to that.

I don't know...I'm trying to just dismiss as much as I can without being "passive" about it. I really feel like because it's one-sided (never has and never does drool from left side) and it's on the SAME side as her eye problem (which was caused by underdevelopment) that she may have some type of issue with the right side of her head in general. Seems strange to me both issues are right-side related.

Karlin thank you so much for sharing that! I have toyed with the facial paralysis notion before. I asked her eye doc and general vet to look at her really closely and see if they noticed any signs of that and they said that, to their knowledge, she doesn't seem to have that issue. I wonder if certain parts of the face can be afflicted and not others?

I honestly didn't feel like she drooled any less after the pain injection. Her drooling sort of improved, but she slept the whole time after she got home so can't really say that much about improve or not improved.

I wonder if the left side has a salivary gland issue (maybe not producing?!) and it's causing the one side to over produce. Her "good" eye does that...it almost produces TOO Many tears...like it's making up for the lack of tear production in the other eye.

The vet has checked her mouth probably 6 times now and says her teeth have come in perfectly and look great. No problems with throat, nothing lodged, absolutely no sign of injection, and all of the inside of her mouth looks normal, no inflammation, bleeding, rubbed raw, etc...they've also rubbed up and down her neck for swelling. Nothing! She, of course, still picks up leaves and grass off the ground but has become less interested in eating it. She'll pick it up in her mouth then just drop it. She remembers now that it doesn't taste that great. :)

Last night after I cooked dinner (first excitement...food smell) she went outside and our neighbor's dachtsun was playing in his yard (double the excitement...a friend!) and she was running the fence line after him and began to drip tons of drool on the ground. It literally come out in droplets that pinged the ground. It scares me! Maybe she is just a really overly excited dog who drools abnormal amounts out of one side...and that's just a quirk of hers? Maybe she's drooling ALL the time b/c the cats excite her too. They play with her most of the time and chase each other around the house. Just a bout of always being over stimulated?

I'm unsure if investing in an MRI is the right decision at this time...or if I think that way b/c I'm starting to just feel like I overreact to everything?! I have new-mama syndrome like you've never seen before! I just worry so, so much and I don't want to worry over nothing if she's perfectly happy with a drooling quirk. I worry more than any sane person should. Sorry this post was poorly organized and lots of random thoughts :)

1st October 2012, 07:35 PM
In your place, I really would make an appointment with a neurologist asap for a basic clinical exam, see what they say, and then go from there. I would not dismiss anything as a quirk. Especially as your vet has already suggested the problem may well be neurological. If she does have SM, you have the broadest range of choices when it is caught early. Sm typically will affect one side more than another. You are seeing a lot of correlation to the same side which to me would be flagging a serious need to have a neurologist check this out. If it isn't SM, to me this still sounds neurological.

Lady Hoop
2nd October 2012, 04:42 PM
In your place, I really would make an appointment with a neurologist asap for a basic clinical exam, see what they say, and then go from there. I would not dismiss anything as a quirk. Especially as your vet has already suggested the problem may well be neurological. If she does have SM, you have the broadest range of choices when it is caught early. Sm typically will affect one side more than another. You are seeing a lot of correlation to the same side which to me would be flagging a serious need to have a neurologist check this out. If it isn't SM, to me this still sounds neurological.

Thanks Karlin, very good points. That's what worries me the most...issues on the same side. We have a vet neurology team at a University near by. Lady has another ophthalmologist appointment next Monday. I think I'm going to look into the basic exam...I could possibly do both on the same day off of work. I think my vet wanted to try the medication trial and error first before she went for a neuro exam. Which would you recommend as a first step?

Lady Hoop
8th October 2012, 11:00 PM
Little bit of an update...Lady has been drooling a lot less. I wanted to monitor her when her 'daddy' arrived home from his work trip to see if the onset of excessive drooling was a combination of him being gone and going to doggie daycare for the first time all 5 days. She has actually done a LOT better since his return and being home. We've also carefully noted when she IS drooling (though it's not nearly as much anymore) and we've seen the following pattern:

- extreme excitement (aka, daycare, other dogs, LOTS of people)
- food. food. food. food. treats. food. cat food. people food. FOOD!
- car rides
- other anxiety...she doesn't like being 'gated' in the kitchen or anywhere for that matter. In her crate, she's fine...goes right to sleep...loves it. If she's secluded in a room she gets her feelings hurt and drools.

Besides these types of excessive drooling situations, she is barely drooling at all, just a tad. I have only seen the famous "droplets" when I took her on a car ride to get some fast food. car ride+food smell probably caused it. We have to take her in the car a lot, so we want her to get used to it.

As for the other symptoms, I kept interfering with her head/mouth scratching at night and now she has stopped. I haven't seen her do it in about a week. I think it mostly had become a habit. She hasn't rubbed her head on the carpet either. She is only rubbing head right before I give her her eyedrops...she anticipates them and tries to hide under pillows :) If I have to guess, I think the doggie daycare was not giving her her Genteal drops as I told them to...her eye was probably super dry when she was getting home from daycare.

Still perplexed. Off I go to walk Miss Diva. :)