Why Does My Dog’s Tongue Stick Out?

Dogs’ tongues are pretty incredible, once you think about it. They are used to eat and drink, to help cool down the body via panting, and, of course, to give you tons of slobbery kisses. Some dogs, maybe even your own, have a bizarre but adorable trait of sticking their tongues out all of the time. Sometimes it’s just the tip, other times their entire tongue is hanging out of the side of their mouth. While this can be an endearing trait, it can also be a signal of underlying health issues.

Hanging Tongue Syndrome

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hanging Tongue Syndrome is exactly what it sounds like: the dog’s tongue hangs out of the mouth and is not a sign of anything else troublesome. It is a condition that smaller and brachycephalic (“smooshed-face,” like Pugs) breeds are prone to due to genetics. Both types of dogs are affected because of genetics. Their tongues may quite literally be too large for the oral cavity or breeding may have led to an abnormal jaw bone that doesn’t properly support the tongue. If your dog has an overbite or underbite, they may develop Hanging Tongue Syndrome, especially as they age.

Genetics isn’t the only reason why a dog may have Hanging Tongue Syndrome. Severe dental disease can lead to the rotting of the lower teeth. When these diseased teeth fall out or are extracted, there is no support for the tongue so it simply pops out and hangs out to either the side or out the front. Fortunately, most dogs with Hanging Tongue Syndrome can enjoy a full, happy, healthy life without many severe issues.

The main issue that can arise from Hanging Tongue Syndrome is an incredibly dried out tongue. Imagine how it feels when your lips are incredibly chapped and there is no lip balm in sight. Now imagine that feeling but on the tip of your tongue. All of the time. This is what dogs with Hanging Tongue Syndrome may have to deal with. If your dog has this condition, keep an eye out for any swelling, bleeding, or cracking of the tongue and seek veterinarian help if you notice them. 

If your dog has Hanging Tongue Syndrome, make sure they have access to plenty of water and that the color of their tongue and gums stays the same, as dogs with Hanging Tongue Syndrome are also prone to infections and even frostbite on their tongue in colder climates. Discoloration of the tongue and gums can be a sign of infection and should be discussed with your vet immediately.

A sudden appearance of Hanging Tongue Syndrome combined with odd behavior could be a sign of neurological problems. If this is happening with your dog, consult your vet ASAP to make sure nothing too serious is happening.

Introduction of New Medication

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The introduction of new medication into your pup’s system could be the cause of a sticking out tongue. If your dog has recently been put on new medication and is exhibiting this symptom (or any other new symptoms or habits), consult with your vet to make sure this is the right medication for your dog or if you should change tactics.

Incredibly Relaxed

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The good news is, sometimes a hanging out tongue isn’t a sign of anything problematic for your dog whatsoever. Sometimes a tongue hanging out for long periods of time (but not indefinitely) is a sign of pure relaxation. If your pup has just eaten a delicious meal, played to his heart’s content, or is lying next to you with their tongue hanging out for a bit, it could just mean that she’s in pure bliss.

Does your dog give you a permanent raspberry? Have there been any issues because of it? Let us know in the comments.