Have you ever noticed your beloved pooch sticking out his tongue and wondered what’s going on in his curious canine mind? Why do dogs stick their tongue out and does it indicate a problem?
Well, it’s not just a cute quirk! There’s more to this endearing behaviour than meets the eye. Keep reading to discover seven fascinating reasons why dogs stick out their tongues.
By the end of this post you should have a better understanding why dogs “wear” their tongues this way and how you should react if you’re concerned.
Table of Contents
- Hanging Tongue Syndrome
- Medical Issues
- Summary – Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out?
- Related Posts
Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out for Pure Relaxation
Your pooch might let his tongue dangle when he’s completely relaxed and content. This behaviour is also known as “tongue lolling” or “tongue hanging” and it’s perfectly normal. You may witness your furry friend doing this after an extra-fun play session or exciting walk.
So, how and why does this happen? Basically, when a dog’s relaxed, his facial muscles loosen up. This causes the tongue to stick out a little. You should take it as a positive sign, even a compliment, because it means you’re doing a wonderful job as a pet parent!
They Stick Their Tongues Out When They’re Panting
Panting is completely natural and essential for our four-legged friends. In fact, it’s their primary method of controlling their body temperatures. Humans sweat to cool down, but dogs have very few sweat glands, so they pant instead.
As they pant, they breathe in cooler air and expel warmer air. When the moisture on their tongues evaporates, it helps them cool down. As they pant more, the airflow cools down the mouth, throat, and lungs, all of which help lower the overall body temperature.
Note that excessive panting could indicate trouble. Heatstrokes, stress, anxiety, or dehydration may all cause excessive panting. If you think your pooch is panting too much, consult your vet.
A Dog Might Have Hanging Tongue Syndrome
You can probably guess what this aptly-named condition is. Hanging Tongue Syndrome is when a dog’s tongue chronically hangs outside the mouth, usually because the dog can’t retract it. Even so, most dogs with this syndrome go on to live full, happy lives.
But why can’t these dogs retract their tongues? Well, it could be caused by a few factors. Smaller breeds or those with smushed faces (brachycephalic) are no strangers to Hanging Tongue Syndrome. Think pugs, boxers, or chow chows. Their tongues could be too long to fit in those confined mouths.
Another cause is dental disease. If a dog’s bottom teeth rot away, the tongue may involuntarily dangle outside the mouth because there’s no barrier to stop it. Further, some neurological issues may cause a dog to lose control over his tongue, making it loll out.
New Medication Might Make a Dogs Stick It’s Tongue Out
In some cases, new meds could cause your pooch’s tongue to stick out. Perhaps he’s allergic to an ingredient in the medication, leading to oral swelling or discomfort. Some orally-administrated drugs can cause itching or discomfort, so your dog will try sticking his tongue out to alleviate those sensations.
If dry mouth is a side effect, your dog might instinctively stick out his tongue to prompt more saliva. Sticking out the tongue is also how dogs try to alleviate nausea, so check if the new drug has nausea as a possible side effect. Consult with your vet to resolve issues caused by new medications when in doubt.
Tongues Help Dogs Explore the World
Our furry friends are naturally curious. Their senses allow them to explore and understand their environments, and one of those senses is taste. By tasting unknown objects, they investigate and gather information on them, like little canine detectives.
Just like humans, they have taste buds. So, they can detect sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavors. Of course, they’re also talented sniffers. When exploring an object, a pup will combine the taste and smell information during the investigation process. He can then conclude whether the object is safe to play with or consume.
As a pet parent, you’re there to help your pup stay safe when playing with things or eating. Sometimes, the taste test doesn’t divulge enough information to tell a dog to stay away, and they end up ingesting something toxic. If that’s the case, a visit to the emergency room may be necessary. However, if you’re being attentive and provide them with a safe home, they’ll happily explore without endangering themselves.
Dog Tongues Lap Up Water or Food
Dogs have a special way of drinking water and eating food. It involves sticking out their tongue and using it to lap up the liquid or food particles. The process of lapping is a key part of a dog’s natural feeding behaviour. It helps them slurp up water or food efficiently.
When a dog drinks water, he sticks his tongue out and curls it backward, forming a spoon-like shape. This curled tongue is then dipped into the water, creating a column of liquid that the dog quickly draws into its mouth before gravity pulls it back down. This motion is repeated rapidly, allowing the dog to consume a sufficient amount of water to stay hydrated.
Similarly, when a dog eats wet food or licks up small particles of dry food, it uses its tongue to scoop up the food and guide it into the mouth. The tongue’s agility and flexibility help the dog manipulate the food effectively, ensuring it’s consumed with ease.
Your Dog Might Have Medical Issues
Sadly, sometimes, dogs who stick out their tongues aren’t just relaxing, cooling down, or exploring. In some cases, there’s an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention. One may be trauma or injury. Sudden damage to the muscles or nerves in the oral region may cause your dog to lose control of the tongue.
As mentioned, dental diseases could also become an issue. If the pooch is missing teeth, the tongue could slip out of the mouth. Tooth decay, gum disease, or tooth abscesses could cause pain or discomfort that leads your dog to extend his tongue. The same is true for oral swelling, inflammation, or infection.
Lastly, nerve damage or cranial nerve disorders may affect your dog’s ability to control his tongue, resulting in tongue protrusion. If your dog is suffering from an issue like this, pay extra attention to his water bowl to ensure he always has easy access to clean, fresh water.
Summary – Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out?
To wrap it up, there are numerous reasons why dogs stick their tongue out. From being exploring new objects to dealing with a medical condition, it may be difficult to fully understand the cause.
So… if you’re ever in doubt about your dog’s tongue behaviour, don’t hesitate to talk to the vet or even go in to a veterinary center for a check-up. With that peace of mind, you can continue playing happily with your pup!
Do you know of another reason why dogs stick their tongue out? Please tell me about it or ask a question in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
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