Why do dogs stick out their tongue? Dogs sure look cute when they do, but is it a health-related issue?
As a pet parent, one would want the best for their dog/s. We certainly want to make sure that our pet remains healthy and happy for a long time.
Sticking out the tongue is a canine behavior but it is only normal when your dog does it once in a while, especially when it pants to cool down.
If your pet’s tongue sticks out all the time, then you would want to have it examined by your veterinarian.
Find out common reasons ‘Why do dogs stick out their tongue?’
Why Do Dogs Stick Out Their Tongue?
Dogs might stick out their tongue due to the following reasons:
1. Panting to chill
In summers, dogs stick their tongues out to reduce their body temperatures. Dogs do not sweat like humans do, so their cooling mechanism is also different than humans.
Your dog might pant with its hanging tongue out to cool their overheated bodies. This is the only ‘normal’ reason why a dog’s tongue may hang out.
2. It is a breed thing
Some dog breeds have their tongues sticking out nearly all the time. English bulldog, French bulldog, and other brachycephalic breeds (more about this later in this guide) like Shih Tzu and Pug have their sticking tongue out almost all the time. These breeds tend to overheat rapidly and their short snouts do not help. Some of these dogs also have larger-than-normal tongues.
You might see this in Chihuahua and Yorkie breeds too. These dogs have their tongues out because it does not fit inside completely. Hanging tongue syndrome is more common in these small dog breeds.
Also Read: Why Do Chihuahuas Stick Their Tongue Out
Many diseases can also cause a dog’s tongue to hang or stick out permanently.
Dental disease like tooth loss, gum disease, periodontal disease, etc. can lead to sticking tongue. If your pet’s tongue starts sticking out suddenly followed by excessive drooling, then please have it examined by your vet.
A neurological problem can also hanging tongue syndrome in dogs. Your vet will first rule out dental disease and if there are no visible oral issues, he/she might recommend a neurological consult.
Dogs with pancreatitis, seizures, and GI tract issues as well skin issues like pruritis could also stick their tongues out and lick surfaces excessively.
4. Sexual excitement
Some dogs also stick their tongues out when they are excited sexually. A male and female dog will pan excessively during copulation and the male might mount the female several times all the while its tongue sticking out.
Other than sexual excitement and panting to cool the body down, it is not normal for a dog’s tongue to stick out. There could be a issue that causes the tongue muscles to weaken and that may result in hanging tongue syndrome. In any case, it is best to see your veterinarian expert right away.
5. Old age
As your dog ages, it might start exhibiting strange behaviors and one of them is sticking its tongue out and licking its nose or surfaces frequently. Thankfully, many of these symptoms can be managed with medication and healthy diet.
Why Does My Dog Stick the Tip of His Tongue Out While Sleeping?
Dogs do the cutest things when they are asleep.
In their REM sleep state, they might whimper, bark, wag their tails, ‘run’, and even make cute and funny sounds and noises.
A puppy might stick the tip of its tongue out just like a human baby does ‘suckling’ motions with its lips while asleep.
We can never tell for sure if dogs dream but if they do, then they may be dream of running and panting or even eating their favorite foods.
Sometimes, it might just be a reflex which your dog cannot ‘control’ and might even drool and lick in its sleep. That is probably also the reason why their tongue tips might stick out. It is best to not disturb your dog in its REM sleep as many dog bites happen when dogs are disturbed.
Why Is My Dog Shaking and Sticking His Tongue Out?
It can be very worrisome to see your beloved dog shake and stick its tongue out. If your pet is hiccupping and swallowing rapidly, have it rest a bit.
Offer it some water and continue observing it for the next hour or so.
There are many reasons why some dogs shake and stick their tongues out:
1. Brachycephalic obstructive airway
The meaning of the word brachycephalic is brachy meaning short and cephalus means head. In these dogs, the skull is very small and their nose is also ‘pushed in’. This causes many respiratory problems in these dogs.
In brachycephalic respiratory syndrome, a dog might suffer from respiratory difficulties. Due to the shortened nasal passage and airways, such dogs need to spend more effort in breathing. When the blood flow to the tongue increases it might hang out abnormally until the dog cools off.
Resultantly, these dogs might start shaking and sticking their tongues out after strenuous exercise.
Some dogs with larger tongues – macroglossia – might also shake and their long tongues stick out perennially. Macroglossia could be the result of heredity, genetic issues, and even certain neurological conditions.
Shih Tzu, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and bulldogs are sometimes known to have macroglossia. In extreme cases, surgery is the only way to reduce the tongue’s size.
Dogs with seizures or epilepsy could also shake and stick their tongue out. Seizures are common in the Chihuahua dog breed. If you notice your Chihuahua’s tongue sticking out and shaking its body, please call your vet immediately.
4. External stimuli/toxins
In addition to external stimuli like heat and cold, a dog’s tongue might also stick out when they have ingested something toxic. If you suspect that your dog has eaten something poisonous, contact the ASPCA’s poison helpline right away.
Why Does My Dog Keep Sticking Its Tongue Out and Licking Air?
Our dogs do strange things and one of these is sticking their tongues out while licking the air. A variety of factors can cause this:
1. Something stuck to the roof of the mouth
Your pet might simply try to get the last bit of food stuck to the back of its teeth or to the roof of the mouth. If your pet has eaten peanut butter, it might keep flicking and licking its tongue for a while. Sometimes, the food may be long gone but its sensation might keep bothering your pet.
A stressed dog might also indulge in such behavior like licking the air and sticking its tongue out. Watch out for signs of pain or discomfort. If your pet also defecates, hides, or has its tail between its legs, then have your veterinarian examine it.
3. Skin infections
Dogs with pruritis or eczema, skin allergies, hives, and scabies tend to lick the dog’s paws and also lick the air. Sometimes, the dog owner might have rebuked the dog for licking itself too much and that could cause it to lick the air instead.
4. Strong scents
Your pet might have sniffed at some dog pheromone (Flehmen response), perfume, blood, food, or other strong scents. Since a dog’s olfactory sense is highly developed, the scent molecules may remain in the air longer for your pet. It might sniff and lick the air and may even have excessive drooling if it is a food scent.
5. Health issue
Dogs with pancreatitis, GI tract issues, esophagitis, seizures, etc. also show the Flehmen response where they curl their upper lip and lick the air. Have your vet examine your dog right away to prevent complications.
What to Do if your Dog Sticks its Tongue Out all the Time?
Here are some steps you can take if your dog is suddenly sticking its tongue out:
1. Try distracting it
See if the problem is permanent or simply caused by stress, strong scents, or some other temporary issue like food sticking to the roof of its mouth. Shoot a video of your dog sticking its tongue out and licking the air or its nose. Send the video to your vet so they can further diagnose if your pet needs more consultation.
2. Maintain your pet’s healthy diet
For older dogs, it is essential to maintain healthy diet with plenty of omega fatty acids, proteins, etc. Speak to your vet if medicines like Rimadyl can help.
3. Prevent tongue dryness
In case of hanging tongue syndrome, you must take care not to expose your pet to extreme heat and cold. The cold could cause your dog’s tongue to freeze and crack or bleed while heat could dry it out. Make sure your dog is well-hydrated. You can also use natural lubricants like coconut oil to prevent it from cracking.
4. In case of seizures
Sometimes, dogs appear to be shaking, convulsing, and shivering with their tongues out. If you suspect a seizure, make sure your dog’s tongue does not cause choking. It is best to let the convulsion pass so your pet does not bite you. Make sure your pet is safe and on the ground. If your pet is hot, cool it with some wet towels. As soon as the convulsion passes, take your pet to the vet.
5. Manage stress
If your dog’s tongue hangs out due to stress, then do not reward the behavior. Rather, treat your pet when it is calm. Ignore your pet when it is hyperactive. Maintain a routine and take your pet out for walks during the cooler part of the day. Make sure your brachycephalic dog does not over heat.
6. Treat underlying diseases
Many GI tract infections, skin issues, Addison’s disease, thyroid issue, pain, hypoglycemia, neurological disease, dental disease etc. can also cause tongue sticking out.
Treat and manage these conditions and that might also cause the tongue to go back in its normal position.
In case of macroglossia, hanging tongue syndrome, etc. surgery may be the only option. However, this isn’t the easiest of options as such a surgery is known to cause massive bleeding and can also lead to severe complications.
FAQs on Why Do Dogs Stick Out Their Tongue?
1. What causes tongue flick in dogs?
If your dog is suddenly flicking its tongue, it might be trying to calm itself down. Stress and discomfort are the common causes behind tongue flicking. Some dogs also flick their tongue when someone violates their personal space.
2. Why is my dog continuously licking its nose and lips?
This is a sign of ill health. A dog that has tooth issue, stomach problems, stress, or other discomfort might continuously lick its nose and lips. It might experience nausea, vomiting, GI tract distress, or excessive drooling that might provoke it to lick its nose and lips. Strong scents can also cause excess licking in dogs.
3. Why does my dog lick its lips prior to sleeping?
Puppies lick their lips as they might taste some food or it might bring back their dam’s memories. Older dogs lick their lips to alleviate pain, discomfort, etc. Sometimes, there might be a scent in the air which dogs can detect but human noses cannot.
Why do dogs stick out their tongue?
Many different reasons can cause a pooch to stick out its tongue. Under normal circumstances, dogs do it out of sexual excitement or when they pant to cool down the dog’s body.
Sometimes, a dog may stick out its tongue due to a disease or injury like dental disease, mouth injury, neurological problem, GI tract problem, skin issue, etc. If your dog’s tongue continues to stick out, it could also be a congenital or hereditary issue. Please have your vet examine your dog right away.