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What is Sticking Out His Tongue?

When dogs are sticking out their tongues, this generally refers to the muscular organ, called the tongue, being frequently found sticking outside the mouth, beyond the teeth and gums.  There are several reasons why your dog is sticking out his tongue:

  • Panting
  • Hanging tongue syndrome
  • Tonguing
  • Oral cancers and other masses
  • Severe dental disease

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Why Sticking Out His Tongue Occurs in Dogs

Your canine family member’s tongue is quite an interesting organ which performs many important functions for him.  Not only does it pull food and water into his mouth, but it also “smells” for him and investigates his surroundings.  Here are some reasons why your dog may be sticking out his tongue:

Panting

Panting is a cooling mechanism used by your pet.  It is defined as rapid, shallow breaths which accelerate the evaporation of water from his tongue, inside his mouth and upper respiratory tract.  The evaporation of the water aids in your dog’s ability to regulate his temperature.

Hanging Tongue Syndrome

This is a condition which is genetic in some breeds having the “smooshed” face which causes their oral cavities to be too small to accommodate the tongue.  The tongue also hangs out due to an abnormal jawbone that can’t support the tongue or due to missing teeth which create a gap through which the tongue can slip.

Tonguing

This is a colloquial expression for the behaviour that is similar to the Flehmen response which is exhibited in other mammals.  This involves using the tongue to “taste the air” in a response to sniffing after a female.  Other mammals will curl the lips and raise their heads when performing this action. The tongue may not leave the oral cavity.

Oral Cancers and Other Masses

The tongue is prime target for oral tumors, most of which are malignant.  The tongue can also have tiny bumps or warts which are called papillomatosis, being caused by the papilloma virus which are not usually malignant.

Severe Dental Disease

Inflammation of the tongue (glossitis), inflammation of the soft mouth tissues (stomatitis) inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and inflammation of the lips (cheilitis) can cause the tongue to stick out.  Other inflammations of the mouth and tongue can include:

  • Foreign body ingestion
  • Exposure to toxic plants or chemicals
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Immune -mediated diseases
  • Metabolic disease
  • Mouth ulcers
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What to do if your Dog is Sticking Out His Tongue

If your dog is panting and his tongue is sticking out, this is normal.  However, if the panting being done by your pet seems excessive and there isn’t a justifiable reason for it, then an examination should be carried out. You can examine your dog’s mouth to a limited degree at home but your veterinary professional can do a much more thorough examination, especially if your pet is anxious or in pain.

An examination by your vet is especially important if you note any growths or masses inside your pet’s mouth, or if you note any missing teeth or red and inflamed gums. These conditions will need to be treated sooner rather than later in an appropriate manner according to the conditions and diagnosis found by your vet. 

Your vet will treat infections with appropriate medications and metabolic and immune-mediated disorders and nutritional disorders with medications, supplements and dietary regimens which he deems appropriate for the condition found in your pet.  Cancers, papillomas, and other masses will be treated according to current medical recommendations as needed.

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Prevention of Sticking Out His Tongue

There really aren’t any things that you can do if the reason your pet is sticking out his tongue is genetic.  However, if the cause is panting, you can adjust your pet’s exercise and play regimen to allow sufficient rest and maintain appropriate temperatures to keep him from becoming overheated.  If the cause is dental disease in any stage, getting your pet’s oral health treated and maintained is the step that’s needed to prevent your dog from sticking out his tongue from that inflammation.  Being more watchful of where your pet exercises and attempting to control what he eats or investigates can prevent the inflammation from toxic plants and chemicals.  

Prevention of cancerous tumors is not something you have any control over but by keeping up with your regular and routine veterinary examinations will help to identify any suspicious lesions in your dog’s mouth.  Keep your dog away from pups who have visible papillomas as they can be spread. Your at home examinations will also help to catch those masses and conditions earlier for more aggressive and appropriate treatment earlier in the process.

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Cost of Sticking Out His Tongue

There are costs involved in treatment of the various reasons which are abnormal that are causing your dog’s tongue to stick out.  For example, tongue cancer treatment costs can range from $3,000 to $15,000 and treatments for the various immune deficiency disease costs can range from $1,00 to $4,000.

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Sticking Out His Tongue Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Yorkie silkie

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

He was fine then he yelled loudly and pooped. His body seemed limped after and histongue and mouth are half way open. He seems to be resting but I'm worried. His mouth still won't close I sent pictures. He is so cute but his mouth doesn't usually look like this while he's sleeping. Please help me thank you. I love this dog like he is my child. His name is Ringo

Sept. 19, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say without being able to examine Ringo, but it sounds like he may have had a seizure of some kind. It would be best to take him to see a veterinarian, and get some blood work done to make sure that he is okay they may put him on medications if that's what they decide is happening, or it may have been a one-time occurrence and he may be okay. Once they're able to examine him they will be able to let you know more. I hope that all goes well for him.

Sept. 19, 2020

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Chihuahua

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loose Tooth

My dog has a slightly loose K9 tooth on the top and I'm worried it may fall out. If it does fall out will his tongue stick out? He isn't missing any other teeth so it doesn't look like there would be a big gap but I've heard that the top K9 teeth hold the tongue inside the mouth. So i'm worried since he's older and I've read that older dogs have weaker tongues. Also what is the best toothpaste to use to keep his teeth clean? Thank You

July 9, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If his canine tooth is loose, there is significant. Periodontal disease causing that. It will be healthier for him to have the tooth out, then to have the tooth stay in with all the bacteria that will be around that tooth. Bacteria can build up in the mouth, and spread through the bloodstream to dogs hearts and kidneys. At this point, I wouldn't recommend brushing his teeth, as his teeth are probably painful and sensitive. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, and they can give you an idea as to what might be involved in taking care of his teeth. I hope that he is okay.

July 9, 2020

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