Sticking Out His Tongue in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog sticking out his tongue?

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog sticking out his tongue?

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

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 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.


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


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.



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.



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




American Stafforshire Terrier


4 Years


0 found helpful


0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Stomach Ache

Hi! My dog is walking around sticking his tongue in and out, over & over. When he does this, you can hear his tummy making a growling or popping sort of noise and he goes to the door. Once he's outside, he runs down and starts eating copious amounts of grass. Ths has been happening off and on all day today. I'm just wondering if it needs immediate attention and what you think. Thanks so much for all you do. I look forward to hearing from you & Merry Christmas!! Oh and the weird part is that he still has an appetite.

Dec. 21, 2017

Wheeler's Owner


Dr. Michele K. DVM


0 Recommendations

Thank you for contacting us about Wheeler. It sounds from your description like he is nauseous, for some reason. If he is still displaying this behavior, or is vomiting, it would be a good idea to take him to your veterinarian today, partly because this may develop into more serious signs, and you don't want to have to go to the emergency over Christmas for something that could have been resolved easily! I hope that he does well.

Dec. 21, 2017

Hi, I have dog name Runnie. He started to take his tongue out alot then normally. And he is starting to sneeze alot like if he had allergy. Is this something normal?

April 11, 2018

Jackie G.

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