Dogs Who Swallow a Lot

A dog who appears to be swallowing repeatedly may have something stuck in his throat or, worse, deeper in the throat.


You notice your dog keeps swallowing a lot, acting like something is stuck in his throat. He may have drool leaking out of his mouth, in addition to swallowing repeatedly.

If your dog will let you, start by gently examining your dog’s mouth to look for a cause of the swallowing. Check the roof of his mouth for something a like a bone shard or short stick stuck across the hard palate. That can be a quick and easy fix if your dog will let you remove it.

NOTE: If you notice a string or thread stuck under his tongue, do NOT try to pull on that. That discovery should lead to a visit to the veterinarian. Your dog need surgery for a linear foreign body, like a string extending from the tongue into the digestive system.

Irritation Causes Excess Saliva

Anything that has irritated the tissues in your dog’s mouth can make him swallow more than usual and is usually accompanied by lots of saliva. This could be tissue damage from chewing on an electric cord or lapping up something hot like coffee laced with sugar and cream. Sneaking a spicy pepper from the garden or chewing on a mildly toxic plant can have the same result.

A dog who is swallowing repeatedly but does not appear to have anything stuck in his mouth may be nauseous. This type of abnormal swallowing is often accompanied by copious saliva, a “hangdog” look, and often some retching.

If you cannot positively identify and correct what’s causing the excessive swallowing, a visit to the veterinary clinic is required to determine the reason.

Dangerous Esophageal Blockages

Excessive swallowing with large amounts of drool and some gagging could indicate something stuck in his esophagus. If you can safely do so, open your dog’s mouth wide and look for a foreign object. You can also palpate his neck from the outside, but many objects are hard to detect and, even if you can see it, you may not be able to remove it yourself. A blockage in the esophagus is nothing to mess around with, and an urgent trip to the veterinarian is in order.