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What is Sticking Out His Tongue?

When dogs are sticking out their tongues, this generally refers to the 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

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 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.  

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
  • Nutritional disorders
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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 done.  You can examine your dog’s mouth to a limited degree at home but your veterinary professional can do a much more thorough examination. 

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, papillomatosis, 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 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 and the papillomatosis 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.  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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Yorkie silkie

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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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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0 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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1 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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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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Kingston

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Chihuahua

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Tongue Out, Whini

My dog is acting weird, loss of balance, eyes are wide, whining, tongue sticking out. I took him for a long walk and he isn’t his normal self. Trying to poop but nothing came out. Now he lying on me and I’m rubbing his belly. Why is his tongue out? Could it be a Seizure? Not normal. Hes done this 3 times in the last week. I’m concerned

Aug. 19, 2018

Kingston's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are a few causes for a tongue to hang out and my be related to panting, hanging tongue syndrome (neurological injury), congenital disorders (should have presented before now) among other causes; if Kingston is having difficulty defecating he may be in pain which may cause panting and a tongue to hang. However, you should visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 19, 2018

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Silky

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Silky Terrier

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14 Years

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Fair severity

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Tongue Sticks
Tongue Sticks Out

Hi. My pupper has started to stick out his tongue while he sleeps. It sticks out a few cms. Even when he wakes up his tongue is still out (even when he walks around the house it’s still out). It started happening a few months ago. He doesn’t do it all the time, just some of the time. I don’t know if it’s simply old age or something more. He lives a very active healthy lifestyle (walks twice daily and fresh meat)

April 17, 2018

Silky's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without seeing Silky, I can't determine why he might be doing that, but sometimes dogs will have that behavior if they have mouth pain or dental disease. It would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can look at his mouth, assess his health, and determine if he is fine, or if he needs medical attention. I hope that all goes well for him.

April 17, 2018

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Max

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Maltese

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6 Years

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Fair severity

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Has Symptoms

Tongue Sticking Out

My Maltese, 6 years old, has begun sticking his tongue out more than usual, especially when he is sleep. He also seems to have congestion and some wheezing, like an allergy, which has been a problem for several years. I gave him Claritin, but it does not seem to work very well, as usual. My vet checked out his mouth but he appears healthy with no sign of lost teeth, masse, infection, etc. He eats, drinks and plays normally! Also, he loves to lick everything and uses his tongue more than other dogs! I am just trying to figure out what else to do?!

April 5, 2018

Max's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Since i cannot examine Max, or see him, it is hard for me to comment on what might be going on with him. Since your veterinarian saw him, it would be a good idea to follow up with them to see what the next step might be to figure out what is happening, and if it is anything to worry about.

April 5, 2018

My dog Mauxe keeps on sticking his tongue in and out frequently and there's a minimal amount of saliva that keeps on dropping. He also does some gasping. But he only does this when he was taken for a walk outside. Is it normal? Or we have something to be concerned of?

July 24, 2018

Jennie K.


my puppy is doing the same thing ... she seems healthy enough ...I don't know what the problem is .. will keep you posted.

April 5, 2018

Gregory L.

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Roxy

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Shepherd Pit

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Loss Of Appetite
Anxiety
Lip Licking

My Dog is 6 years old and began sticking her tongue out over and over again (like a snake) and licking the lips. She has always been nervous and had anxiety. This started about 9 months ago and in the last 2 months it has increased to the point i can hardly be in the room with her because the sound. It doesn't happen when she is active or distracted. We're currently waiting on lab results, but I'm wondering if this is more in line with a behavior disorder? Im desperate to help her get some relief from the constant licking!

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Hope

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Boxer

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9 Months

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Mild severity

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Agressive
Tongue Hanging Out
Acts Like She’S Blind

Hello my puppy seems to have these random moments where her tongue is stuck out. Then she gets really aggressive if you put anything in front of her. She tends to go into the bathroom when this randomly happens.