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Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out

Published: 20 Apr 2024
Ashley Marlton
Ashley Marlton
Dr. Marlton spent her first two years in practice working as a veterinary assistant at a 24-hour emergency care animal hospital in Michigan prior to moving to Miami. Following graduation, Dr. Marlton attended Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biochemical Sciences in Fort Collins while participating in volunteer spay neuter trips.
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Our articles are meticulously composed and vetted by veterinary professionals, guaranteeing precision and pertinence by consulting credible sources, chiefly scientific journals and veterinary manuals. Prior to publication and major revisions, we thoroughly validate the factual correctness, providing well-researched content rooted in veterinary science.

Every pet possesses the talent to show extremely lovable facial expressions. Consequently, there could be a time when you feel an overwhelming desire to spend all day admiring your dog’s adorable and fluffy face. 

But, it wasn’t long until you notice a curious habit that your dog’s tongue sticks out from his mouth casually. And so you initiate typing: why does my dog’s tongue stick out when its mouth is closed? into a search engine to look for answers.

If you’re a dog lover, chances are, you might have encountered the iconic term, ‘blepping.’ That’s right, it’s the slang term most people use for this behavior. And dogs aren’t the only ones who do this, either but other animals too! 

So since this phenomenon is common, let’s begin by explaining what it is. More importantly, what differentiates it from other, similar animal behavior? 

5 Reasons Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out

So, why do dogs stick their tongue out? The following are some of the possible reasons for dogs’ tongue sticking out.

Hanging Tongue Syndrome

This is perhaps one of the most common reasons for the ‘why do dogs stick out their tongues?’ question.

Hanging Tongue Syndrome is precisely what it sounds like: the dog’s tongue hangs out of his mouth [1]. While some people may call this an issue for dogs–since after all, the dog keeps sticking tongue out of his mouth all the time–but it’s actually not an indicator of anything else troublesome.

In fact, it’s a condition in which a dog is simply born that way. Dogs with tongues hanging out may have a genetic predisposition to have a very large tongue and simply may like having their tongues dangle. Some breeds, particularly those with genetically flattened faces like Pugs, have short mouths and their tongue just doesn’t fit well. 

However, a dog may find this condition uncomfortable as it takes all the moisture out leaving him with a very dried-out tongue. To ensure your pup’s comfort, make sure he has enough water available all the time to keep his tongue hydrated.

Why is My Dog's Tongue Sticking Out

Decadent Relaxation

This is another possible explanation for your ‘why does my dog stick the tip of his tongue out?’ question.

Tongue sticking is probably just a sign that your pup is just too relaxed to keep it behind his teeth. The jaw of your pup is slack, so even though his mouth appears to be closed, he can stick his tongue slightly outside of it. Even wild animals demonstrate a tendency for hanging their tongues out when they are relaxed.

Tasting the Air

Another common explanation regarding the ‘dogs sticking tongue out’ phenomenon is perhaps they want to essentially taste the air. Though, canines can actually do this even without sticking their tongues. 

Thanks to their organ called “Jacobsen’s organ,” dogs are able to detect the taste of air through inhaling it. By simply holding their mouth open, they can access that particular feature. 

So if you catch your pup with his tongue out or passing it over his nose while you are cooking something delicious, it’s probably just trying to get a taste.

Dogs with Hanging Tongue Syndrome

Exhaustion

A dog sticking his tongue out may also mean he just wants to cool down his body. Dogs usually lower down their body temperature through panting. Panting–short breaths with hanging tongues outside–is the central medium that helps a dog release his body heat. 

Instead of sweating like humans, dogs, on the other hand, stick their tongues out. Naturally, the tongue contains masses of blood vessels and the blood in a dog’s tongue cools down by releasing the heated saliva. Besides warm temperatures, if a dog sticks tongue out with heavy breathing, stress may also be provoking it.

Oral/Dental Issues

A dog with its tongue out is not only a small breed’s condition. Dental issues may also play a huge part in this phenomenon. So make sure to get the teeth of your pup checked and brush them regularly. 

Also, pay attention to the color of your pet’s gums. Dogs’ gums should be pale pink in color. If your pup’s gums start to turn gray, bright pink, or any other shade, then it’s time to bring him to the vet as this could be a sign of dental disease.

A dog sticking tongue out implies mouth injury as well. These problems may have no appearance outside. So you need to check inside your pup’s mouth for a better inquiry. Apart from dental and oral issues, a dog may be susceptible to tongue hanging when you introduce him to new medication.

Dogs Sticking their Tongues Out

What to Do If Your Dog Sticks Their Tongue Out?

If your dog’s tongue is sticking out and he is panting, this is normal. However, if there isn’t a justifiable reason for his panting and it seems excessive, then an examination should be conducted. You can check your dog’s mouth to a limited degree at home but a professional vet can do a much more thorough diagnosis.

A vet examination is especially essential if you note any inflamed and red gums or any missing teeth or if you note any masses or growths inside your pup’s mouth. These conditions should be treated sooner instead of later in an appropriate manner according to the diagnosis and conditions found by your vet.

Your veterinarian will treat infections with proper medications and nutritional disorders and immune-mediated and metabolic disorders with medications, dietary regimens, and supplements that he deems appropriate for the condition found in your pup. Papillomatosis, cancers, and other masses will also be treated according to the current medical recommendations as needed.

Why Does My Dog Stick Tongue Out

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be worried if my dog sticks its tongue out?

No, you should not be worried if your dog sticks its tongue out. You may have noticed other animals do not stick their tongue out. This is because they follow this behavior only in particular conditions. For instance, humans pant after a strenuous exercise. So, tongue flicking isn’t truly a rare incident in humans. 

How can I prevent my dog from sticking its tongue out?

Actually, there isn’t anything that you can do if the reason your dog is sticking out its tongue is genetic. 

However, if the cause is panting, you can provide appropriate temperatures to keep your dog from becoming overheated and you can adjust his play regimen and exercise to allow sufficient rest. 

If the cause is a dental disease at any stage, getting your pup’s oral health maintained and treated is the best way to prevent your pet from sticking his tongue out from that inflammation. 

Supervising where your dog exercises and attempting to control or investigating what he eats can prevent inflammation from toxic chemicals and plants. 

Is it normal for a dog to sleep with its tongue out?

Yes, it is normal for a dog to sleep with its tongue out. If your dog’s tongue is sticking out while he is at rest, he’s just very relaxed. As your pet falls more deeply into sleep, he may simply relax so much that his tongue and mouth just hang out. 

But this will possibly not last long. As soon as he changes his position, your dog will bring his tongue back into his mouth.

Conclusion

Dogs’ hanging tongue requires a close look into their lifestyle and activities. Quick identification of the issue saves you money and toil. But most of the time, ‘dog tongue out’ means absolute relaxation on their part that may be regarded as lazy tongue syndrome.

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