dog's tongue

What does a dog’s tongue color have to do with illness?

What does a dog’s tongue color have to do with illness?

Everything, we say. A dog’s tongue is one of the most versatile of its organs. Your furry friend’s tongue is first and foremost an organ of taste, quite similar to the human tongue. However, this versatile muscle has several other functions besides gobbling down kibble or your delicious home-cooked meal that most of us are not aware of. The muscle is perhaps the most important one in the dog’s body. The large tongues, great for expressing their love, are what give us those wet, sloppy, slobbering kisses that we love. The tongue is also a great device for lapping up water and food in a jiffy. What many of us are not aware of is that the dog’s tongue is also a wound healing tool. The phrase ‘licking one’s wounds’ comes from that very ability of a dog to sterilize its wound and hasten healing. The tongue is also an inbuilt heat regulator. Dogs sit panting in the summer to allow heat to escape and to cool down with the evaporation of moisture from the tongue. Lastly, a dog’s tongue is your pet’s personal health indicator.

raw dietIn the pink of health

We all know that it’s important to check a puppy’s nose and the tongue before selecting one for your family. But why is that so? A dog’s nose has to be wet and cold which indicates all is well with the animal. Additionally, the color of the tongue is another excellent method of checking a dog’s true state of health. A dog’s tongue is usually pink since it is covered with taste buds and receives a healthy supply of blood. In the case of certain breeds, such as the Chow Chow and Shar Pei, you will notice a blue black tongue. Certain mixed breeds may also have a spotted and speckled tongue. But other than that, all dogs should have pink tongues. Any discoloration is an indication of illness. Or, in the case of naughty dogs, access to some coloring agent. If your dog has been playing with a toy that has artificial colors, you might see some discoloration of the tongue. Examine the toy first before you run to the vet. Of course, please ensure the color is not poisonous.

What to watch out for?

A black tongue on any dog other than a Chow Chow or a Shar Pei is a clear indication of an illness. If that is accompanied by blood-tinged saliva and a foul breath, you can easily assume your pet is unwell. This condition could indicate that your dog has a niacin deficiency or there is inflammation in the mouth, perhaps ulceration as well. If the tongue is ulcerated along with being discolored, it could indicate uremia, a toxic condition that usually shows up when the function of the kidneys is compromised. In this illness, the body’s waste products are retained in the blood instead of being excreted out through the urine.

barf indiaCheck the colour of your dogs tongue:

If the tongue, gums and the mucous membranes in the mouth have turned purplish or blue it could be an indication of cyanosis. This is usually a result of insufficient supply of oxygen in the blood, mostly caused due to a heart or respiratory disease. Dogs can suffer from asthma and an asthma attack will cause a dog to pant, wheeze and cough when mucus secretions block the lungs. This can lower the oxygen level in the blood turning the tongue blue. A heart attack can also weaken the heart’s ability to pump blood. The brain, muscles and other organs receive an insufficient amount of oxygen causing the dog to collapse. An excessively white tongue in a dog could indicate anemia. The reasons for a low red blood cell count could be many. The dog could be suffering from an internal bleeding, have a tick-borne disease, or worse, it could even be canine leukemia. A white tongue could also mean your furry friend has ingested a poisonous substance. You need to rush to a vet in that case as this could be fatal if the dog does not receive prompt medical attention. If your dog exhibits a reddened and inflamed tongue, with lumps and black spots, it is a definite indication of melanoma. The redness is a result of the growth of cancerous tissues. You need medical assistance in this case too.


As a responsible pet parent, you need to be aware of your health at all times. A tongue is the dog’s first level indicator of health and well-being. Since dogs have the habit of panting, it is easy to notice the condition of the tongue easily. A quick peek regularly is all that is needed for you to know how your pet is doing.