Why Does My Dog Keep Sticking Her Tongue Out? 3 Main Reasons
If you ask any dog owner how often their four-legged friend sticks out their tongue, there will be few answers and even fewer explanations for this behavior. Most people notice that their pooch sticks their tongue out when it’s hot or after an intense physical activity. But what does it mean when they are resting or meeting another dog? Is it always normal? Let’s try to find answers to this question.
A dog with tongue out: physiological reasons
The physiology of mammals covered with hair is quite different from that of “naked” mammals. A thick coat of hair reduces heat transfer through the largest organ, the skin. Dogs with thick, long hair, especially dark-colored, suffer from overheating on hot days.
The number of sweat glands that can reduce body temperature through evaporation of fluids is very small in dogs. These are found on parts of the body not covered with fur, such as nose and the paw pads. The rest of the sweat glands secrete a substance of a slightly different composition and consistency to that of liquid sweat. This milk-like secretion and fat combine to form a natural coat lubricant. Therefore, the thermoregulatory function of the dog sweat glands is minimal. The evaporation of saliva from the surface of the protruding tongue partially compensates for this deficiency.
Intense breathing and sticking out the tongue lower the body temperature when overheating caused by high physical activity or stress. A protruding tongue in some brachycephalic breeds is physiologically conditioned.
Frequent breathing and sticking out the tongue may be noted in dogs in the last days before whelping. This is due to compression and displacement of the animal’s organs by the growing and moving fetuses inside the uterus. After whelping, things return to normal.
Dogs also stick out their tongues to increase their sensitivity to smells. By moistening the nasal lobe, dogs encourage a more complete transmission of molecules to the sensitive receptors. In addition, the open mouth increases the flow of warm air to the chemoreceptors, which also enhances odor perception.
When sleeping, a dog’s protruding tongue indicates sound sleep and complete relaxation. The muscles that hold the tongue in place while resting relax and the tongue falls out of the mouth.
According to Charles Darwin, humans borrowed most of the basic emotions from their animal ancestors. Gestures, postures, body movements in the animal world play a large communicative role. For instance, a dog’s protruding tongue signals high emotional arousal.
Rapid breathing, sticking out the tongue is a reaction to stress or excitement. The release of adrenaline into the blood affects the respiratory center, which causes hyperventilation (rapid open-mouth breathing) to oxygenate the blood and put all organs on “alert”.
A protruding tongue can be a symptom of some severe pathologies, such as:
- maxillary sinusitis
- heart failure.
It should also alarm you if your dog doesn’t try to hide their tongue when you touch it. This abnormality may be caused by pinching or damage to the nerve endings that innervate the lingual muscles. A protruding tongue can also be a sign of neurological diseases and severe intoxications affecting the nerve nodes.
Other reasons may include:
- An incomplete dentition.
- Jaw misalignment
- It can also be a symptom of poisoning or intoxication caused by a worm infestation.
There are many reasons why a dog’s tongue hangs out of its mouth. In order not to miss the pathology, it’s necessary to look closely at the condition of the animal, analyze the possible factors, and eliminate them
A protruding tongue can make a dog uncomfortable and even if the reasons are natural, one should try to help them by giving them water, moving them to a cool place, reassuring, and using a muzzle that’s not causing your dog any discomfort.