Dog Sleeps With Their Tongue Out? Here’s Why!

by Sonya | Last Updated:   March 17, 2021

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Most pet owners have a little laugh at the many different ways that they catch their pets snoozing. In fact, often I find myself hearing strange wheezing-type sounds coming out from under my bed, only to realize that my cat is taking a noisy nap beneath it.

Now, while we are talking about dogs here, my own little pooch has his own share of snores.

But have you ever looked over at your sleeping dog and see their tongue hanging out and just wonder to yourself, “How does my dog sleep like that”? Well if you have, you aren’t alone.

Hanging Tongue Syndrome in Dogs

Surprisingly, this is a real thing. Hanging Tongue Syndrome is something that can occur as a genetic disorder and as a non-genetic disorder. For example, some dogs with faces that don’t necessarily fit their oversized tongues will result in this syndrome.

You can see this in certain dog breeds such as Pugs or English Bulldogs. Their genetics simply don’t allow for their large tongues to fit inside of their small mouths.

According to the Seattle Times, the majority of dogs that have this syndrome are considered to be called “smooshed-faced dogs” and are smaller breeds. In cases where the disorder is non-genetic, there may be issues of missing teeth or other dental issues causing your pet’s tongue to be protruding often if not all of the time.

Dog sleeping on floor with tongue out

Is There a Cure for Hanging Tongue Syndrome?

Unless the Hanging Tongue Syndrome is caused by a fixable mouth or dental issue, there is no cure. However, you can make sure that your pet is more comfortable by keeping out water for your pet at all times.

It is easy for pets whose tongues are constantly out to become dehydrated, so ensuring that your dog has plenty of fluids is important.

Some other things that can occur from Hanging Tongue Syndrome are that your pet’s tongue can quickly become chapped and cracked. Think about your own exposed skin in the really cold winter months when you haven’t moisturized enough.

You get cracked fingertips and skin that is incredibly painful. Make sure you leave water out at all times (as we have previously stated) and go ahead and rub a tiny bit of oil (Olive or Vegetable) to their tongue. This will allow for moisturization as well as preventing chapping and cracking.

Other Reasons Dogs Let Their Tongues Hang Out

As mentioned above, the reason why your dogs may be leaving their tongues out may have nothing to do with an actual genetic disorder, but rather, a sign that there is something else going on.

Because pets can’t actually speak for themselves, their owners need to pay attention to the small details about them that clue into what might be going on with them.

They Are Hot

Have you ever been lying in bed and got really hot? Well, of course, we all have! When we stick our feet out from beneath the covers to reach cool bedroom air we instantly feel a little more cool and comfortable.

When dogs are hot they pant because, unlike humans, their bodies do not produce sweat in an effort to cool off. In this case, this is why we see dogs panting on a hot summer day or after vigorous activity.

They Are Totally Relaxed

While, as humans, we use the phrase “let your hair down” in an effort to tell someone they just need to relax. In this particular case, your dog is letting its tongue hang out.

If your dog is just laying around enjoying the sun and has their tongue hanging out or if they are laying on you just enjoying being rubbed on their stomach and their tongue is hanging out… don’t stress.

Or perhaps you recently got them a new dog bed and it’s induced coma like sleeps for them.

One key thing you can ask yourself if you wonder if there is something wrong with your dog is this: Are they and drinking on a regular basis?

If the answer is yes to this, then don’t stress. Just enjoy that being around your pup makes them so relaxed they just want to let their tongues hang out.

Medication Changes

Medication changes can do a lot of strange things in both people and humans! I mean, do you ever actually pay attention to the medication side effects listed on the radio ads or TV commercials? They seriously make you question whether or not your natural affliction is worth taking the medication!

That being said, if your pup is on a new medication, that very well could be the cause of their tongues hanging out.

Certain medications can cause dry mouth in pets. If this is your pet and you are seeing changes in them, such as their tongues hanging out, contact your veterinarian immediately regarding these changes.

Stressed to the Max

Pets are not so different from us when it comes to stress as far as odd or changed behaviors go. When people are stressed there is always the potential for behaviors to change to showing signs of anxiety, irritation, frustration, anger, depression, and so on. Dogs also can show signs of anxiousness and frustration in many different ways.

One of that way is simply by having their tongues hang out. I know it sounds odd, but, when you think about the various ways people show stress oddly, it isn’t all that crazy sounding.

Any additional signs that are out of the normal for your pet, such as their tongues hanging out all the time, is a red flag to the owner that something is wrong. If you have had a life event that affects your pets, such as moving or maybe a new baby in the house, consider their new behavior as being a result of stress.

Dental Issues

If your pooch’s tongue is all of a sudden hanging out paired with what seems like a food aversion, it may be due to their being dental issues. Look to see if your dog’s tongue is swollen or if there seem to be any apparent gum or tooth issues.

Also, when in doubt, go ahead and go to your trusted veterinarian. Your pet could have gum disease or other mouth infections that make it painful for them to continue to have their tongues in their mouths.

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Suddenly Sticking Their Tongue Out Often?

Given all of these different reasons for this to happen, the safe answer is to go to your veterinarian to figure out exactly what is going on. If you are not wanting to ensue an expensive visit to the pet doctor (because we all know a simple visit is close to $100 each time), then take into consideration some of the things we have listed for you.

If your pet is averting food and water, consider that maybe dental issues are causing your pet to react this way. Think about if there are any stressors in your pet’s life that could be causing these new issues.

There are many times you can simply take a few moments to think about what could be affecting your pet and make some changes to see if the behavior improves.

Conclusion

We all want the best for our fur babies! So when something like their tongue hanging out suddenly can raise some concern initially.

Most reasons for this are no cause for concern and can be solved by just a little of bit thinking and trial and error.

Sonya is a software engineer by day and recently earned her MBA degree, but she also loves spending her free time writing about her favourite passion, dogs! Click here to read more.