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Why Do Dogs Drool So Much In The Car?

Do you—and your dog—enjoy the occasional car ride together?

Is your pooch starting to ruin these outings by his constant drooling and slobbering, transforming your nice, clean seats into a very gross slip-and-slide?

As you well know, almost all dogs have their share of bad habits, especially those who have not been properly trained.

From digging holes to incessant barking at strangers to chewing on your favorite pair of shoes, these pesky behavioral challenges are enough to drive even the most patient dog owner batty.

Fortunately, there are sometimes solutions for these bad habits.

For instance, while not all of our canine friends are known to drool in the car, for those that do, there is sometimes a good reason behind these actions.

Moreover, for some of these salivating scenarios, there may actually be steps you can take to restrict the conduct.

In this article, we will briefly point out some of the reasons why dogs drool in the car, and highlight some practical tips that may help solve these dilemmas.

Why Is My Dog Drooling In The Car?

As we mentioned briefly above, not all dogs are droolers, and even fewer are known to regularly engage in this behavior while riding in a car.

Because of the relative rarity of these instances, when your dog does drool in your vehicle, you should definitely take notice.

Although some of the reasons behind the drooling are totally benign, there are some factors that can point to a much larger problem—a problem that demands your immediate attention.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why a dog might drool in the car, and some of the steps you can take to either prevent or treat each cause.


One of the most innocuous reasons for dog drooling behavior in the car is thirst.

When thirsty, many breeds of dogs are known to drool, and car rides, especially long ones, can cause plenty of thirst, particularly if there is no available water in the vehicle that would allow your pooch to quench that thirst.

If you plan to take your dog on a car ride, you may be able to curtail some of his drooling by treating him to water before your departure.

And if you are planning an extended trip, perhaps a road vacation, it is important that you keep a good supply of water on hand, along with a container from which your pet can drink.

If thirst is the culprit behind your dog’s incessant drooling, and drinking water before and during the trip does not seem to quell the problem, it could point to a larger problem that may require a vet’s diagnosis.

Potential reasons for excessive thirst include:

  • Kidney problems/kidney disease.  Problems with the kidneys can cause the water levels in a dog’s body to become imbalanced.
  • Diabetes.  Some dogs are more prone to diabetes than others, and just like in humans, the disease can cause excessive thirst, among many other problematic symptoms.
  • Adrenal diseases.  Diseases that affect the adrenal glands in dogs, such as Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease, can cause frequent thirst.
  • Liver disease.  The liver is responsible for many bodily functions, so when it becomes diseased it can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms.
  • Infection.  Any type of bacterial or viral infection can lead to fevers and dehydration in dogs.

Excessive thirst can also result from electrolyte imbalances and as a side effect of certain medications, particularly those that treat hypertension.

Motion Sickness

Just like small children (and some adults) can suffer from motion sickness in the car, so too can our four-legged companions.

And unfortunately for the seats in your vehicle, motion sickness in dogs can result in a lot of excess slobber, and sometimes even vomit.

Motion sickness is much more common in younger dogs, and a good majority of them will fortunately outgrow the problem.

However, if the issue persists—and taking your dog with you in the car is a must—you should probably make an appointment with the vet, who can prescribe medication to help curb the condition.

Heat Stroke

One of the most serious causes of doggie drool is heat stroke.

Heat stroke in dogs can lead to a variety of disagreeable symptoms, any one of which could lead to excessive drooling.

Heat stroke is a very grave condition that, if left untreated, can lead to a lifetime of health problems and even death.

It is for these reasons that transporting your dog in the car on very hot days is usually not a good idea, especially if your vehicle lacks air conditioning.

If heat stroke is the cause of your dog’s undue drool, he will usually present with other symptoms.

These symptoms, which warrant a rapid response and an appointment with the vet ASAP, include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Lethargy/slow movements
  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Problems with breathing
  • Incoordination/dizziness
  • Pale gums or tongue (may also be bright red)
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Seizures

Panting is one of the first and most noticeable signs of heat stroke in dogs.

While dogs do have sweat glands in their paws and in their ears, these do little on hot days to help regulate their temperature.

Instead, dogs pant—and frequent panting can lead to a lot of drool on your seats.

Panting is the primary vehicle for bringing down a dog’s temperature, so if you intend to have your pet ride shotgun when the summer sun is beating down, you better bring a few towels to clean up the mess.


Finally, dogs can do a lot of crazy things when they are anxious or nervous.

This includes slobbering all over your nice seats.

What’s more, dogs that do not get the opportunity to ride in the car with you frequently are particularly susceptible to this type of anxiety.

Consider this: if the only time you take your dog with you in the car is to visit the vet or groomer—two places that most dogs are not very happy to visit—the anxiety they feel on the ride over can be overwhelming.

To combat car-related anxiety in dogs, start off slow with quick trips around the block.

And as they become more comfortable you can add more and more distance to these rides.

Combat your pets’ fear of the car by taking them to fun places—like the dog park.

Over time, most dogs will become increasingly comfortable about this mode of transportation, which will hopefully result in much calmer—and drier—rides.

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National Canine Research Association of America