Your Dog’s Tongue Is Not Just For Licking
1 October, 2013

Our dogs’ adorable long tongue that licks us to say hello and show us their affection is used for more than just licking and eating.  Our dogs’ tongue can tell us a story in itself.  It can show us that they are thirsty, over-exerted and/or if that there is an issue with their mouth or teeth.

The main function of our dog’s tongue

The main purpose of our dog’s tongue is to bring food and water into his or her mouth and allow your dog to taste what he’s eating and drinking. A dog’s tongue can recognize the sensations of salty, sweet, and sour taste. The tip of the tongue gives your pup the ability to taste and lap water. The tongue also assists with chewing and swallowing.

Your dog’s tongue helps regulate body temperature as well. As air passes back and forth over the tongue when a dog pants, it cools down the body which is how our dogs sweat. The cooling is also elevated saliva evaporates from the mouth.

Your dog also uses his tongue to clean himself and lick sore spots on his body, as well as to clean up wounds or irritations on his body.   We love our self-grooming pups!

Common tongue disorders

A problem with your dog’s tongue can be an indication that there is another problem in his or her mouth. Signs of a tongue problem can include a reluctance to eat, abnormal chewing motion, excessive drooling, a bloody discharge or a bad smell coming from the mouth.

If your dog is not a breed with a naturally dark tongue like a Chow, and if you notice that your dog’s membranes in the mouth or on the lips are turning blue or purple, it’s very important that you have your pup seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Your dog’s tongue can help measure if he or she is healthy

Try to examine your dog’s tongue and look for ulcers, bruises, or bleeding from the tongue or elsewhere in your dog’s mouth.  Also check for bumps within his or her mouth. Move your finger under each side of the tongue and push it up so you can get a good look under the tongue as well as the roof of the mouth.

A healthy tongue is normally pink and should not be coated, and there shouldn’t be any lumps, bumps, growths or raised areas.

A pale or white tongue may be a sign of a weakened body condition. This tongue color is seen in animals with anemia, leukemia, blood pressure problems, loss of blood, edema (fluid retention), generalized weakness and lethargy.

A dark red tongue could indicate hyperactivity of one of the organ systems of the body and may involve a bacterial or viral infection, fever, gall bladder or kidney stagnation, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, cancer, or an accumulation of toxins somewhere in the body.

As with all our pets, we usually know that if they are acting differently, eating less or not being themselves, it is time to see the vet.   The tongue is just one more place for you to examine to make sure that all is well with your pup!

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