Why Does My Dog Have A Hot Tongue?

Is it normal for a dog to have a hot tongue? ¹

You took Rover to the dog park, and it is epic.

He’s having so much fun, running around, chasing the Frisbee, and just altogether being a dog.

You haven’t seen him going this crazy in weeks! He runs to you, panting, and licks your hand.

His tongue feels weirdly hot. Is this normal?

Is he just hot from running around?

Should you call the vet? Are doggy tongues even supposed to be hot?

How do you know when it’s too hot?

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Read on as we answer all these questions, and then some.

Higher Body Temperature

Dogs typically have a higher body temperature than humans, ranging between 99.5°F and 102.5°F (37.5°C – 39.2°C). This means that your pup will probably feel hot compared to you, especially when they lick you. Let’s face it, dogs do that a lot. Suppose your pup is playing, running around, and doing all those doggy things. In that case, he’ll probably work up a “sweat,” temporarily raising his body temperature even more. This will make his tongue seem even hotter.

Usually, this is nothing to worry about. If Rover looks happy and his tail is still wagging, I wouldn’t worry about it. If he looks a bit sad and under the weather, you should probably keep an eye on him since it could be a sign that something more sinister is afoot.

Natural Body Temperature Regulation

Dogs regulate their body temperature a bit differently from how we humans do it. When our bodies need to cool down, we sweat. The sweat evaporates, cooling our bodies. The mechanism is the same for dogs, but they don’t sweat through their skin. They only sweat through their nose and feet, which isn’t nearly enough to cool them down. Instead, they pant with their tongues hanging out. Here, the hot air from their breath flows over their tongues, causing evaporation cooling their saliva.

While panting is necessary for your pup to cool down, excessive panting isn’t great. This could signify heat exhaustion, which could be really serious. If you notice that Rover is panting up a storm and doesn’t look his usual self, you should help him cool down immediately.

How To Treat Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Heat exhaustion is potentially fatal for dogs and should be taken very seriously. If your pup’s body temperature rises above 102°F (39°C), he’s too hot. If it goes beyond 106°F (41°C), he’s in danger of heatstroke. Here, his organs will shut down, and his heart could stop.

If your pup is at risk of heat exhaustion, he’ll pant like crazy, appear listless, and have low energy. That’s the first sign. Next, he could experience convulsions, vomit, and have a runny tummy. His gums and tongue could also turn blue or bright red.

When you see any of these symptoms, you must act fast to cool your dog down. The first step is to get him out of the heat. Take him out of the sun, into some shade, or, if you can, indoors where there’s an air conditioner.

If you can check his temperature using a rectal thermometer. If it’s above 106°F (41°C), you should probably get to the vet since heatstroke could be fatal.

If you’re near water, such as a river or lake, or even if you have a bathtub handy, let your dog take a dip. This will cool him down quickly. If you don’t have enough water nearby, use cool, wet cloths or towels to cool him down. The best way to use these is to place them around Rover’s neck, under his armpits, and between the hind legs. If you can, gently wet his ears and paw pads too.

If your dog is awake and willing, let him drink cool water. Don’t force him, though, since this could cause him to inhale it, getting it into his lungs instead. That’s not good. Gently wet his tongue with cool water if he can’t or won’t drink. Note that you shouldn’t feed your pup ice since this will drop his body temperature too quickly. This sudden plunge could lead to shock, causing further complications.

Illness

Sometimes, dogs get ill, and they need a bit of extra care. Some illnesses result in your pup developing a fever. Here, Rover’s body temperature and tongue will feel hotter than usual. If your pup’s tongue feels hotter than normal, and you’re worried, check his rectal temperature (if he’ll let you). This will show clearly whether he has a fever or not. If you’re worried, a trip to the vet might be a good idea.

What Should I Do If My Dog Bit His Tongue?

We all bite our tongues at times, and it sucks. Dogs do it, too, although they have this nifty reflex to prevent it most of the time. When a dog tries to close his mouth, the motor control area in his brain prevents him from doing this until his tongue is safely tucked away in his mouth. Neat! That’s a good thing since doggy teeth are super sharp and could probably bit the tongue clean off by accident.

So, what happens when that reflex lets Rover down, and he does bite his tongue? Or, if he went into the recycling and cut his tongue on a tin can? There are lots of blood vessels in a dog’s tongue, so a cut here will bleed quite a lot. The first step is to apply pressure to the cut if your pup lets you. Use your finger for this, pinching his tongue on the cut. You might have to pin him down for this or get some help. If it’s a severe cut and he won’t let you near his mouth, get to the vet for help immediately. Hold his tongue out of his mouth as far as possible to prevent blood from running into his throat. If blood travels down his throat, it might upset his tummy. Also, you can’t tell if the bleeding has stopped.

If your pup doesn’t allow you to apply direct pressure to the cut, you could place a bandage in his mouth. Allow him to pull his tongue back into his mouth, place the bandage on the roof of his mouth, and hold his jaws closed. The bandage will soak up the blood, and he’ll still be able to breathe through his nose. He probably won’t like this option much, either, though.

If you’re using the bandage option, check the bandage regularly since you won’t see it to assess the situation. At the same time, your pup’s mouth is closed.

Alternatively, you could use ice. Here, you’ll apply the ice cube directly to the cut. This constricts the blood vessels in the area (blood vessels grow narrower when they’re cold), slowing the bleeding. The pressure will also work to stop the bleeding.

If the bleeding hasn’t stopped within 20 minutes, you’ll need to get to the vet, unfortunately.

Once your pup’s tongue is treated, and he’s on the mend, he’ll need some soft food to protect that healing cut. Ask your vet about options to prevent infection and help manage pain since this is a very sensitive area of your dog’s body.

Why is My Dog’s Tongue Cold?

When you touch something cold, your hands go cold. It’s the same with dogs. When they drink water or lick something cold, like condensation on a window, their tongues will feel cold for a bit afterward. This will change again as their natural body temperature heats their tongues again.

What Does A Healthy Dog Tongue Look Like?

Healthy pups typically have pink tongues. There are some breeds with spotted tongues, usually sporting black or blue spots. Other, non-spotty tongued breeds sometimes also have black spots on the tongue and gums.

Suppose your pup has any blisters, lesions, or broken skin on his tongue or around his mouth. In that case, the vet should probably look at it, especially if it doesn’t show considerable signs of healing within a few days. Sometimes, a dog’s tongue changes color or shape or develops new raised or unusually textured spots. This is usually cause for concern, and a trip to the vet is on the cards. The same goes for when your pup’s tongue and gums turn pale or white since this is usually a sign of serious illness.

Bacterial infections, vitamin deficiencies, and other illnesses could turn your Rover’s tongue red, so that’s another reason for a trip to the vet. Phew, who knew there’s so much that could go wrong with a dog’s tongue?

Common Dog Tongue Problems

So, doggy tongues show us when our pups aren’t well. Other ailments can affect Rover’s tongue, though. Here are some common things to look out for:

Fungal Stomatitis

This happens when too much of the fungus Candida albicans grows in your pup’s mouth. This potentially painful condition causes inflammation, bad breath, drooling, and bleeding, open sores on the tongue. Your pup probably wouldn’t want to eat when suffering from this condition. If you spot this, take your pup to the vet. Long-term treatment will manage the fungal growth, helping your pup recover.

Glossitis

This is inflammation of the tongue. Typically, this is caused by external factors, such as infection, wounds, exposure to chemicals, insect bites, or even foreign objects caught under the tongue. If you have a long-haired dog and he tries to remove burrs from his fur using his tongue, he could also develop glossitis from this.

Dogs that suffer from glossitis usually drool a lot, and their tongues could appear red and swollen. Here, the vet will remove whatever is causing the inflammation and treat the symptoms using an antibiotic.

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by Tina Thompson on Unsplash

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!