My Dog's Tongue Hangs Out All Of The Time. Shoud I Worry?

Posted on: 17 June 2016

When a dog is panting or resting, it's normal for his tongue to hang out. However, what if you notice that your dog's tongue seems to be hanging out of its mouth a lot more than usual--or all of the time? Should you be worried?

Causes of a Protruding Tongue

It's common for small dogs with flat faces, like pugs and Boston terriers, to have tongues that stick out simply because they may have been born with tongues that are too long for their short oral cavities. Additionally, some dogs are born with lower jaws that are too short to properly support their tongues. Dental disease is the most frequent cause of a hanging tongue. Missing teeth, especially missing canine teeth, can make a gap where the tongue slips out. Small dog breeds are particularly susceptible to tooth loss, which is why it's more common to see small dogs with hanging tongues.

If there's damage to the facial nerves caused by trauma or disease, the dog might lose control of its tongue, causing the tongue to hang loose. Any dog that suddenly can't keep his tongue in his mouth should see a vet as soon as possible to rule out serious health problems. It's possible that the dog will recover and regain use of its tongue although the damage could also be permanent.

How to Care for a Dog with a Hanging Tongue

When a tongue is hanging out all of the time, it tends to dry out and can chap. To help your dog, you can apply olive oil to the tongue a few time a day. If your dog is able to hold his tongue in his mouth, try to get him to do so as much as he can to help it stay moist.

If the tongue is hanging out due to nerve damage and the dog can't control it, you need to watch him carefully since the tongue can get caught on things, leading to injury. Also, since dogs use their tongues to bring food and water into their mouths, if your dog can't control his tongue, he'll probably need help with eating and drinking. Chopping up his food can help, or talk to your vet about a special diet for your dog.

Fortunately, most of the causes of a hanging tongue aren't serious health concerns for your dog. But as always, when in doubt, have your pet examined by a veterinarian, like those at Apple Valley Animal Hospital.