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Is Black Spot On Dog Tongue Harmless Or It Can Be Dangerous?

Is Black Spot On Dog Tongue Harmless Or It Can Be Dangerous?

You are used to your dog’s tongue being pink, but suddenly you noticed a black dot on your dog’s tongue. What is happening? Is this normal?

Dark or black spot on dog tongue can appear as just one spot or several spots, and sometimes they can even cover the entire surface of the tongue. There are also certain dog breeds that are more likely to develop this unusual body trait.

Whenever they appear – during the development of the dog, or in a fully grown dog, most owners will be worried and immediately think that it is a serious medical problem.

But before you start panicking, you should know that these dark spots on a dog’s tongue are in many cases a harmless phenomenon.

Simply, pigmentation in certain parts of the tongue affects the appearance of dark spots, but, if it is not a health problem, it should not affect the sense of taste and the function of the dog’s tongue.

However, there might be some cases where a black spot on a dog’s tongue will mean a certain health issue. Let’s learn more about this phenomenon, and whether we can do anything to protect our furry friends.

What Is A Black Spot On Dog Tongue?

dogs tongue with black spot on it

According to the dog tongue color chart, all dogs should have pink tongues – this color is a sign of a healthy dog.

However, in some cases, a dog’s tongue that is not pink does not mean that there is something wrong with the dog. The Chow Chow and the Chinese Shar Pei have a blue-black tongue, and this is part of their breed standard, which means that these dogs don’t have pink tongues but are perfectly healthy.

Black spots can also occur in any other dog breeds, but are more often seen in Labradors, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Pomeranians, Airedale Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Flat-coated Retriever, Golden Retrievers, Mastiffs, Siberian Huskies, and Pugs.

Black tongue spots can appear in both purebred dogs and mixed breed dogs. If those black spots are the same texture as the rest of the tongue, there is usually no reason to worry. Some of these dogs can also have extra pigmentation on their toenails, paw pads, or ears.

Many people have birthmarks, so even if your dog has black spots on his tongue from birth, you should not worry. However, you should react if your dog suddenly gets black spots on the tongue, or if existing spots that change in shape or size.

If, along with the appearance of black spots on the dog’s tongue, you also notice some additional symptoms, such as unpleasant breath, difficulty in eating food, or excessive drooling of the dog, it is necessary to contact the veterinarian immediately.

What May Cause A Black Spot On Tongue?

brown dog with black spot on tongue lying on the ground

Black-spotted tongues in dogs can be harmless, but can also indicate a certain health problem. What is essential for every dog owner is to know all the potential causes of this phenomenon in dogs.

So, let’s see what are the main causes of dog dark tongues.

1. Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation or skin darkening in dogs occurs as a result of an excessive amount of melanin in the cells. Melanin is the pigment that gives the dog its coat and skin color; if there is a local accumulation of melanin, dark spots or freckles are formed on parts of the dog’s body.

Various factors affect the melanin balance disorder, such as UV rays, and inflammatory and hormonal changes. When melanin is less synthesized in the dog’s body, hyperpigmentation is visible on certain parts of the body – on the mouth, nose, gums, and tongue.

In some dogs, hyperpigmentation spots appear, then disappear, then reappear. Such changes in the tongue are especially common in older dogs, and as a rule, they are not dangerous for the dog’s health.

2. A Hereditary Trait

Why do some dogs have black spots on their tongues? Maybe their parents have dark colored tongues, too.

If you have a Shar Pei or a Chow Chow, you are certainly familiar with their famous dark tongue, but, you might have not heard that some other dog breeds are also likely to have this body characteristic.

We all know how important genetics is with dogs; if you want to know how big your puppy will get, you can get an approximate assessment by just looking at the dog’s parents.

This is also the case with dark tongues – if your puppy’s parents have had this trait, there is a higher chance your dog will inherit it, too.

3. Niacin Deficiency

People can lack niacin (or vitamin B3) in their bodies, and so can our furry pets! The main indicator of niacin deficiency in dogs is a black tongue, and the lack of this vitamin can be prevented with a balanced diet.

Niacin is very important for the health of the dog’s skin, hormone synthesis, and metabolic processes in the dog’s body. Niacin deficiency is most often caused by a lack of this vitamin in the dog’s regular diet. Eggs, milk, and beans are natural sources of niacin.

Niacin deficiency in a dog can be noticed by a dark colored tongue, and the dog may have difficulty swallowing and will probably drool significantly more. Find some useful solutions in our article on home remedies for dog drooling.

The only way to solve a dark tongue in dogs in this case is niacin supplementation.

4. Lack Of Oxygen

If you have noticed new spots on your dog’s tongue, this could mean that your dog is not getting enough oxygen.

When a dog cannot breathe normally, there is a lack of oxygen in the lungs and its organs can no longer function normally. In some cases, the collapse of the trachea, that is, the narrowing of the trachea in dogs, can also occur.

In addition to the discoloration of the tongue, it is also possible to notice coughing, weakness and panting in the dog. As soon as you notice dark spots on your dog’s tongue, or dark gums, you should immediately contact the veterinarian, so that he can enable your dog to breathe normally.

Breathing problems in dogs can be further aggravated by excessive body weight or frequent smoking around the dog. Some dogs, such as the smallest dog breeds and brachycephalic breeds, are more prone to the risk of tracheal collapse.

To prevent this scenario, you should ensure that your dog does not develop weight problems, that it is not exposed to stress, and that it has normal, but not excessive, physical activity.

5. Toxication

You suddenly noticed black spots on your dog’s tongue? Those black spots could indicate dog poisoning.

Your dog surely loves walking and enjoying carefree movement in nature and parks. But, we all know how much dogs love to sniff everything they see, so most of them will also sniff or even lick the urine of other dogs.

Their research, curiosity, and sniffing can lead to the dog ingesting some toxic substance. Depending on the amount and type of poison ingested by the dog, various disturbances and problems may occur.

One of the symptoms of the dog poisoning is the appearance of black spots in the dog’s mouth and on the tongue. Also, some dogs might sneeze, cough, and drool a lot.  If the dog has ingested a large amount of toxic substance, convulsions, vomiting, and loss of consciousness may also occur.

If you notice these symptoms, you should not try to help your pet yourself, but take him to the vet immediately.

6. Oral Cancers

Unfortunately, in some cases, black spots on a dog’s tongue can indicate an oral tumor. These tumors are most often malignant, and the three most common types are malignant melanoma, fibrosarcoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.

The frequency of occurrence of these tumors increases in dogs older than 8 years, therefore, if you have a dog at an advanced age, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as you notice black spots on the dog’s tongue.

In addition to black spots on the dog’s tongue, a dog with a tumor of the oral cavity can also have black gums, unpleasant breath, difficulty swallowing, and increased drooling.

Such tumors are very dangerous; they can spread to the surrounding tissues, and even cause the death of the dog. 

Whatever the diagnosis, the chances of a cure are the most favorable when the tumor is detected in time.

Is There A Way To Prevent Black Spots On Dog Tongue?

owner brushing teeth of dog at home

We cannot say for sure the black spots will never appear on your dog’s tongue, but there is something you can do to prevent this occurrence.

Of course, you cannot be 100% sure this change will never occur on your dog’s tongue, but, still, with taking care of your dog’s oral health you can significantly decrease the possibility of this happening to your dog.

By regularly cleaning the teeth, gums, mouth and tongue, you will contribute positively to your dog’s oral cavity health, but also the overall health of your pet. Cleaning the oral cavity and tongue and brushing the teeth will prevent caries, bad breath, and black spots on the dog’s tongue.

Diseases or disorders in the oral cavity can significantly reduce the mobility, liveliness, and sociability of our dogs. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce regular oral care from a dog’s early age. But don’t forget that it’s never too late to start with proper oral care!

Along with dental hygiene, it is very important to provide the dog with a balanced diet, since a lack of niacin can also be one of the causes of black spots on the dog’s tongue.

What Is The Treatment For A Black Spot On Tongue?

veterinarian woman examining teeth and mouth of dog at clinic

The black tongue treatment will depend on the cause of this occurrence in a dog. Since in most cases this discoloration will not mean anything serious, there will be no need for a treatment.

Still, we advise all pet parents to consult a veterinarian if they notice a sudden change in their dog’s tongue color.

As we have seen, black spots on a dog’s tongue might indicate lack of oxygen, toxication, or even tumors. So, in some cases dogs will need treatment, and this will not mean home remedies, but rather a medical treatment in a vet clinic.

So, your veterinarian will be the one to consult you on a proper treatment for your dog, once he determines the exact cause of the dog’s black tongue.

Final Words

A black spot on dog tongue might be seen in different breeds; this is a completely normal trait that is often hereditary, and does not indicate any medical problems.

So, if your puppy has just arrived at your home from the kennel, and you noticed it has dark spots on its tongue, this could be just one of the natural traits of your new pet. In the majority of cases, dark spots on dog tongues are completely harmless.

However, in some cases, black spots on a dog tongue might show some severe health problems, like breathing issues, oral tumors, or toxication. What all dog owners should do is to take care of their dog’s oral health, and regular vet visits.

This way, even if your dog has a certain health problem, there will bi a higher chance that it will recover successfully.

So, please pay attention to your dog’s teeth, tongue, and mouth cavity, and clean them on a regular basis. This is the only way you will be able to see any change in your dog, and the way you will be taking good care of your pet’s health.

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