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Dog Tongue Color Chart: What Color Is A Sign Of A Healthy Dog?

Dog Tongue Color Chart: What Color Is A Sign Of A Healthy Dog?

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Have you ever thought about your dog’s tongue? Chances are, you haven’t. But when you think about it, a tongue is an important characteristic of a dog. When he is hot or after he has just finished a strenuous physical activity, a dog sticks his tongue out.

When he wants to show you how much he loves you, he will usually do so by licking your face all over with his tongue. Although cats are far more famous for their cleaning routines of licking themselves, some dogs also use their tongues to clean themselves.

So, the dog’s tongue is a multifunctional, and very important, part of the dog’s body.

Therefore, every dog owner should know what a healthy dog’s tongue looks like.

With the aim of expanding your knowledge on this topic, today, we’ll bring you a detailed dog tongue color chart. So, let’s learn which tongue color is desirable, and which color might indicate a certain health problem in your pet.

Dog Tongue Color Chart 101

beagle with tongue out

We can learn a lot about the health state of our dogs from the dog urine color chart. Also, yellow dog poop or grainy dog poop can show us that there are some changes in a dog’s health.

In a similar way to this, we can find out a lot about our furry friends from the color of their tongues. A dog’s tongue has many taste buds, blood vessels, and capillaries.

The color of a dog’s tongue can show you a lot about its medical state.

So, if you’ve noticed that the color of your dog’s tongue has changed, you can find the reason for this in our dog tongue color chart.

Let’s take a look at this color chart.

Tongue ColorExplanation What Should You Do?
Pink Normal tongue color Everything is in order, so—nothing!
Purple Heart disease, cyanosisContact your veterinarian
Red Heatstroke, kidney problems Contact your veterinarian
Black spots Dog’s age, melanoma Contact your veterinarian
Yellow Liver disease, bladder stones, jaundice Contact your veterinarian
White Anemia, gastric issues, leukemiaContact your veterinarian

Now, let’s first investigate the normal color of the tongue that your dog should have.

What Color Is A Healthy Dog’s Tongue?

The normal color of a dog’s tongue is dark pink. Younger dogs have more pinkish tongues compared to older dogs. Also, if the dog has been physically active, or if the air temperatures are very high, it is possible for the tongue to turn red.

Therefore, if you are checking the color of your dog’s tongue, this should be done when the dog is at rest.

The tongue is the first thing your dog uses to put the food into its esophagus.

It is necessary to always take care of your dog’s health, and of course, this includes dental hygiene. A dog’s teeth and oral cavity must be cleaned regularly to avoid infections or any other health problems.

What Does A Purple Tongue Mean?

Some dogs, like the Chow Chow and the Shar Pei, naturally have purple or blue tongues. So, this means that they are born with it, and this color does not represent any anomaly. The gums of these dogs are usually the same color.

However, if your dog normally has a pink tongue, and now you have noticed that it has turned purple, something is definitely going on.
A purple tongue in dogs can indicate respiratory problems or heart disease. Also, a purple tongue might indicate that your dog has cyanosis.

Cyanosis refers to a medical condition when a sick dog has a large lack of oxygen in its blood. So, the hemoglobin in the red blood cells in the dog’s body does not have enough oxygen. This condition is also known as hypoxia.

As a result, a purple color appears on the tongue, gums, and skin of the dog.

If you notice a purple color of your dog’s tongue, it is necessary to contact the veterinarian immediately.

Why Is My Dog’s Tongue Dark Red?

Sometimes, a dog’s tongue can go from pink to dark red. Why does this happen?

Well, there are a couple of reasons for this phenomenon. They are the following:

Diabetes

• Heatstroke

• Allergies

• Bladder issues

• Kidney problems

• Bacterial infections

Diabetes

Diabetes is an incurable condition in dogs, but this does not mean that the dog cannot have a normal life. With proper nutrition, regular exercise, and medication, your dog can still be a happy dog.

In a healthy dog, the pancreas releases insulin, thanks to which, glucose is converted into the energy that your dog needs for daily activities. In dogs with diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.

How do you recognize diabetes in a dog? A red tongue is one of the symptoms, as well as weight loss, increased urination, dehydration, and excessive thirst.

The treatment of diabetes includes insulin injections, monitoring of glucose levels, as well as an appropriate diet that your veterinarian will advise you on.

Heatstroke

I am sure you have witnessed your dog panting in the car at least once. The reason might be that your dog is too hot and he might be suffering from heatstroke.

Well, a dog’s tongue can also turn red if your dog has been overheated.

A dog can get heatstroke by staying outside for a long time in warm weather, but also from being in a closed, insufficiently ventilated area. Heatstroke occurs more often in dogs with flattened muzzles, such as French and English Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs.

Also, overweight dogs are more likely to get heatstroke.

As soon as you notice that your dog’s body is overheated, it is necessary to cool it down as soon as possible, since overheating can lead to damage, and even failure, of the dog’s vital organs.

It is important to start cooling the dog immediately after noticing symptoms such as a red tongue, rapid breathing, or a dog throwing up yellow or throwing up blood, and take him to the vet immediately.

In order to avoid heatstroke in your dog, do not take it for a walk during the strongest sun. Also, dogs must not be left closed in a car or similar spaces, and they should always be provided with clean drinking water.

Allergies

Dogs can also have a red tongue as a result of an allergy. Maybe your dog was lying in the sun and he got bitten by an insect, which caused an allergic reaction. If your dog has no other symptoms, his tongue should probably go back to its normal color soon.

If you notice other symptoms, such as your dog throwing up white foam, or a high fever in your dog, you should contact your vet immediately.

Bladder Issues

A red tongue in your dog may indicate that the dog has bladder problems.

If, in addition to this phenomenon, you also notice that the dog is in pain while peeing, peeing too much or too little, or peeing inside the house even though it is potty trained, it is possible that it is a problem with the bladder.

Some of the most common problems are bladder stones, urinary tract infections, and bladder cancer. Bladder problems can be very uncomfortable and painful for a dog, so it is necessary to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Kidney Problems

Kidney diseases are common in older dogs. Kidneys are organs that filter the blood and maintain the necessary concentration of water and mineral substances in the dog’s body. Kidney disease can occur as a result of poisoning, an infectious disease, or after the consumption of a certain drug.

In addition to the red tongue, it is possible you’ll notice dehydration and vomiting in the dog, as well as frequent urination and increased thirst. With the help of blood and urine tests, a veterinarian can diagnose and advise on the treatment of this medical condition in dogs.

In the case of such diseases, veterinarians advise a change in diet and the consumption of food that contains a lower percentage of salt and protein.

Bacterial Infections

A red tongue, along with indigestion and fever, can indicate a bacterial infection in a dog. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Some dogs recover within a few days, and some require treatment for up to several months.

How do dogs get a bacterial infection in the first place? This often happens when a dog licks other dogs’ urine—dogs that are already infected with a certain bacteria. By analyzing blood and urine, a veterinarian can determine exactly which bacteria it is and how it needs to be treated.

Why Do Dogs Have Black Spots On Their Tongues?

In some cases, older dogs can develop age spots that can be visible on their tongues, as well as on other parts of their bodies. Some dogs also can have black spots as part of their genetics. Some of them are: Akitas, Australian Shepherds, Bichon Frises, Dalmatians, Shiba Inus, and Siberian Huskies.

Also, some mixed breed dogs naturally have black tongues or black spots on their tongues. Besides on the tongue, these black spots can also be seen on other parts of dogs’ bodies.

In some other cases, unfortunately, black spots on the dog’s tongue indicate that a dog has some type of cancer, such as melanoma.

Along with black spots, it is possible that you will also notice ulcerations on the tongue. These, and similar tumors in dogs, are treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

What About Yellow Tongues?

A yellow tongue in a dog can indicate various health conditions, such as:

Gastritis

Liver disease

• Gallstones

Jaundice

Gastritis

Gastritis is quite common in dogs, and it occurs as a result of inflammation of the gastrointestinal mucosa. We all know that our dogs often eat a lot of things that they shouldn’t (like cat poop!), which can result in upsetting their digestive systems.

In addition to a yellow tongue, additional symptoms that may appear are a decreased appetite, frequent vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration.

Gastritis in dogs can be either acute or chronic.

Acute gastritis most often occurs due to the fact that the dog has swallowed a poisonous substance or something that is difficult for him to digest.

Chronic gastritis can occur as a result of a bacterial or parasitic infection, as an immunological disease, or as a neurological disease.

After a consultation with a veterinarian, the dog will receive a recommendation to replace the fluid it has lost or antibiotics, depending on what caused the gastritis.

Liver Disease

Why is the liver important?

Thanks to the liver, the dog’s body can metabolize ingested food. Also, the liver serves as a filter for toxins found in the food and medicines that the dog takes into the body. Furthermore, the liver is important for the blood clotting function and the overall immune system of the dog.

How do you recognize liver disease in a dog? In addition to the yellow tongue, it is possible that you will also notice yellow pigment in the dog’s eyes. Also, the dog will probably vomit and have diarrhea, have no appetite, walk unsteadily and look confused.

The treatment of this disease varies from case to case. It is mandatory to follow all the veterinarian’s instructions about the dog’s diet, medications, as well as about further testing.

Gallstones

The gall bladder in dogs is a small organ that is located right next to the liver and that enables the storage of bile in the dog’s body. The liver produces bile, and if a chemical imbalance occurs during this production, the dog gets gallstones.

All dogs can suffer from gallstones, but this phenomenon is more common in older dogs, female dogs, and smaller dog breeds.

In some dogs, gallstones can go unnoticed. However, in others, it is possible to notice symptoms such as a yellow tongue, vomiting, stomach pain, and a high fever.

In some dogs, the treatment of this condition will not be necessary, while in some other, more severe cases, the surgical removal of the dog’s gallbladder is recommended.

Jaundice

Jaundice in dogs implies the accumulation of yellow pigment, thanks to which, it is possible to notice a yellow tongue, gums, and eyes in a dog. The yellow color in the case of jaundice is caused by bilirubin, a pigment found in bile and produced by red blood cells.

If too much bilirubin is produced or if the dog’s body cannot excrete it at the required rate, jaundice occurs. In addition to jaundice, you may notice that your dog pees a lot, is constantly thirsty, and may be weak and lethargic. Some dogs can also lose weight.

Various conditions can cause jaundice in dogs, such as tumors, autoimmune diseases, various injuries, or liver damage.

Why Is My Dog’s Tongue White?

A white tongue in dogs might indicate a couple of medical conditions. They are the following:

Anemia

• Weak immune system

Leukemia

• Poisoning

• Internal bleeding

Anemia

If you notice a white tongue, together with some other symptoms, such as that your dog gets tired quickly or he even refuses to walk, or you see bruises on its skin, it is most likely that your dog is anemic.

Anemia is a medical condition when a dog has an insufficient amount of red blood cells.

Anemia can occur as a result of blood loss or due to a difficulty in producing red blood cells.

In some cases, anemia can be so severe that there is not enough oxygen flow in the dog’s body to perform basic life functions. Therefore, if you suspect that your dog is anemic, you should take it to the vet immediately.

Weak Immune System

A white tongue in dogs can sometimes tell you that your pet’s immunity is extremely weakened. Your dog’s body is attacked by various bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Sometimes, the dog’s immunity is weakened after suffering a certain disease or after surgery.

In order to ensure that your dog’s immunity is strengthened, it is necessary to vaccinate it regularly, in accordance with the recommendations of a veterinarian.

Also, the dog food you give your pet should be rich in vitamins and minerals. If you have recently started leaving your puppy alone at home, it is possible that your dog is anxious and stressed, which can also affect his overall health and immunity.

Pay attention to other physical symptoms, but also to possible traumas and sources of stress that may impair your dog’s well-being.

Leukemia

When a dog suffers from leukemia, there is an increased number of white blood cells in its blood and bone marrow.

We still do not know exactly why this disease occurs in dogs, but if it is not treated, it can be very dangerous and even fatal. What we do know is that dogs need to be kept away from toxic chemicals and prevented from being exposed to any radiation.

With leukemia, along with a white tongue, you may notice pale gums, weight loss, fever, and vomiting.

In some cases, dogs with leukemia can live to a very old age and live quite normally. It is important to diagnose the disease as early as possible by visiting the veterinarian regularly.

Poisoning

Your dog surely loves spending time outside and his favorite part of the day must be going to the park with you. During a walk, every dog likes to sniff and touch whatever comes its way. You have probably witnessed various strange behaviors of your dog, such as rolling on dead animals!

Simply put, dogs have to sniff and touch whatever they see. In this way, they can easily come into contact with various toxic substances.

A white tongue in a dog can indicate poisoning. Also, symptoms such as extreme drooling from the dog’s mouth, sneezing, coughing, etc. are possible signs of poisoning. If the dog has ingested large amounts of poison, it is possible to notice tremors, convulsions, and even fainting.

To avoid this situation, always walk your dog on a leash and warn him when he starts sniffing suspicious objects.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding in a dog can occur as a result of an injury or a fall, it can be a sign that the dog has a tumor or that the dog has a problem with blood clotting.

During internal bleeding, blood accumulates inside the dog’s abdomen. This situation can be fatal for dogs.

The symptoms of this condition are a white tongue in the dog, weakness, difficulty in breathing, and abdominal distension. The veterinarian prescribes therapy based on the cause of the internal bleeding in the dog.

To avoid guessing what has caused your dog’s tongue to become white, the best thing to do here, and indeed, every time you notice some change in your dog, is to consult your vet.

Even if your dog seems perfectly fine, vet check-ups should be regular. In this way, you will be sure you are doing your best to keep your dog happy and healthy.

Why Is My Dog’s Tongue Discolored?

Some dogs stick their tongues out all the time, which causes part of the tongue to become dry. Thanks to this, after a certain time, the tissue of the tongue can become discolored.

If you have noticed discoloration of the tongue in your dog, you probably do not need to worry. What you can try to do is moisten part of your dog’s tongue with water.

But this probably won’t be necessary unless your dog looks like he’s in pain. If you notice any additional symptoms, together with a pale tongue, such as a high body temperature, it is best to consult a veterinarian.

Why Is A Dog’s Tongue Important?

bulldog licking his mouth

Even without a professional explanation, I believe that most of you would say that the tongue is necessary for dogs to eat and drink. This is, of course, correct. But this is not the only thing a dog uses its tongue for.

I believe that most of your pets love to lick you when you come home from work. It’s their way of telling you that they love you and that they’ve missed you. This is a reason to always keep your dog’s tongue clean!

Since it is often located outside the dog’s mouth, this is also a great opportunity to check the color of your dog’s tongue. If the color is the usual pink—you have nothing to worry about! But it’s always good to take precautions.

It is also good to pay attention to the dog’s breath. Bad breath, of course, also depends on the food the dog eats, but be aware that unpleasant breath, as well as changes in the color of the dog’s tongue, can indicate certain health problems.

Some dogs lick themselves to clean themselves. But, at the same time, this is also their way to cool down! Also, dogs can use their tongue to heal their own wounds.

So, the tongue of dogs is a very important organ that serves them for various purposes. Therefore, it is very important that you pay special attention to your pet’s tongue as well.

Should You Clean Your Dog’s Tongue?

As we have learned, changing the color of your dog’s tongue can indicate various health conditions. We cannot influence many of them, but it is still necessary to note that it is very important for every dog owner to keep his dog’s tongue clean.

Just as you regularly clean your dog’s ears and teeth, it is a very good idea to pay attention to his tongue.

It is possible to clean a dog’s mouth, tongue and teeth in a natural way, this refers to feeding the dog high-quality food and using chew toys. You can clean your dog’s tongue in a simple way, using products like baking soda or salt water.

It is also useful whenever you have the opportunity to rinse your dog’s mouth with water after he has finished his meal.

You’ve probably felt your dog’s bad breath at least once. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection. Therefore, regular cleaning of your dog’s mouth and tongue can significantly prevent the appearance of bacteria.

FAQs

shih tzu dog with sitting pose on ground

What Does A Dog’s Tongue Color Mean?

If your dog’s tongue is pink, this means that your pet is a healthy animal. With the exception of some dog breeds that naturally have a purple or blue tongue, all dogs should have pink tongues. This can sometimes also change due to the dog’s age.

If you notice a yellow tongue in your dog, this could mean he might be having problems with his liver or with bladder stones.

A red tongue in dogs could indicate heatstroke, kidney problems, or bacterial infections. A purple tongue might be related to heart disease, while a white tongue could be a sign of anemia or leukemia.

So, a dog tongue color chart is very important and every dog parent should be well informed about this.

What Is The Average Size Of A Dog’s Tongue?

The average size of a dog’s tongue is around 3.9 inches.

Some dogs have tongues that are a lot longer than the average size. One Saint Bernard dog has the longest tongue ever measured and its size is 7.3 inches.

The length of the dog’s tongue is quite an important factor in affecting the way that the dog barks.

Also, Boxers are known to have oversized tongues. A tongue that is too long is the main reason why some dogs almost always have a protruding tongue.

How Is A Dog’s Tongue Different From A Human’s?

The main difference between a human tongue and a dog’s tongue is its length. A human’s tongue is about 3 inches long, while a dog’s tongue is usually almost 4 inches long. Since a dog’s tongue serves many different purposes, we are not surprised by its length!

Also, humans have around 10,000 taste buds, while dogs have about 1,700. Still, dogs can differentiate a couple of flavors, such as bitter, salty, and sweet.

Although they are quite different, there is one important similarity between a dog tongue and human tongue. Both tongues contain a large amount of bacteria.

So, just as we take care of the cleanliness of our own tongue and mouth, in the same way, it is necessary to make sure that the tongue and mouth of our pets are also clean.

Bottom Line

A dog tongue color chart is a powerful tool to help with your struggle to raise a happy and healthy dog. As we have seen, there are many medical conditions that a change in a dog’s tongue might show.

Many symptoms of these diseases are quite similar and you will probably not be able to conclude by yourself which condition is the one that your dog has. So, the only way to find out is to visit your vet.

What you should do is take good care of your dog’s dental hygiene. Also, you should react the first minute that you notice a change in your dog’s tongue color.

Many health problems can be solved when they are detected early.

So, just like you can learn a lot from the color of your dog’s poop or urine, the color of a dog’s tongue can also tell you a lot about its overall health.

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