Dogs’ tongues are pretty incredible when you think about it. Your pooch uses their tongue to eat and drink, to help cool down their body, and, of course, to give you tons of slobbery kisses.
Some dogs — maybe even your own — have a bizarre but adorable trait of sticking their tongues out all of the time. Sometimes it’s just the tip; other times their entire tongues are hanging out of the sides of their mouths.
While this can be a harmless, endearing trait, it can also be a signal of underlying health issues. Here are possible reasons why your dog sticking tongue out a lot.
Hanging Tongue Syndrome
Luckily, the condition, sometimes referred to as “hanging tongue syndrome,” is often simply a matter of being born that way, explains Dr. Holly Ahlgrim, of DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Portland, Oregon.
“A dog’s tongue that constantly hangs out is a genetic condition mostly found in smaller pups and flat-faced pups like pugs and Pekingese dogs,” Ahlgrim tells us. “Many times their tongue may be too large for the mouth or jawbone.”
Fortunately, most dogs with this syndrome can enjoy a full, happy, healthy life without any severe issues. However, you should get the condition checked out by the vet, as some oral cancers or masses can also cause the dog sticking tongue out.
Watch the teeth
“Other reasons for a dog sticking tongue out are loss of teeth or dental disease, or some form of prior trauma to the face, jaw, or mouth,” Ahlgrim says. A dog’s tongue can easily slip out if he has no teeth to support it, or if his jaw is misshapen.
Severe dental disease can lead to the rotting of the lower teeth. When these diseased teeth fall out or are extracted, there is no support for the tongue, so it simply pops out and hangs out to either the side or out the front.
A hanging tongue is not only a small dog condition. Dental issues can also lead your pup to display their flappy-tonguedness with pride — so be sure and brush up on dental hygiene regularly!
Have your dog examined by a veterinarian
If your dog sticking tongue out being on constant display is a new occurrence, there may be more to this behavior than meets the eye. Ahlgrim suggests having your dog examined by a veterinarian, especially if the tongue hangs out of a dog’s mouth asymmetrically or if your pup is having trouble chewing or drops her food during mealtime.
“It could be a sign of dental issues or even some sort of trauma to the face area that the dog owner may not have known about. On rare occasions, a hanging tongue paired with unusual behavior could be the result of a neurologic disorder,” Ahlgrim suggests. “All of these issues would need to be treated immediately by a veterinarian.”
Pet owners should keep an eye on their pup’s tongue and mouth.
“Keep an eye out for any cracking, bleeding, swelling, or unusual appearances — especially in colder weather,” Ahlgrim says. “These are signs that your dog needs to be examined by a vet.”
To ensure your dog’s comfort, make sure she always has access to plenty of water, keeping her tongue hydrated.
“Also, pay attention to the color of your dog’s gums,” Ahlgrim adds. “A dog’s gums should be pale pink in color. If your dog’s gums start to turn bright pink, gray, or any other shade, it’s time to take him to the vet.”
Hanging tongue needs a close look into his activities and lifestyle. Rapid identification of the problem saves you the toil and money. But most of the time, a dog sticking tongue out means complete relaxation on his part that may be considered as lazy tongue syndrome.