Like many dog owners, you have probably found yourself lovingly watching your dog while he sleeps and then wondered – why do dogs sleep with their tongues sticking out?
Unfortunately, this is quite atypical behavior, and so no doubt you are very curious to know the answer. This article will look at why your dog might be sleeping like this and when the issue might be related to a medical problem.
In this article, we will discuss the following:
- Is it normal for a dog to sleep with its tongue hanging out?
- Reasons why your dog might sleep with its tongue out
- How sticking the tongue out helps to regulate a dog’s temperature
- How to take a picture of your dog with its tongue out
- What is hanging tongue syndrome?
- Are some breeds more prone to hanging tongue syndrome?
Is It Normal For A Dog To Sleep With Their Tongue Hanging Out?
You might think it is unbearably cute to see your dog sleeping with its tongue peeping or even hanging out of its mouth. Alternatively, you may find it off-putting and wish your puppy wouldn’t do it. You may also wonder, how much sleep a 8-week puppy needs each day.
Either way, you are probably also concerned about your dog’s behavior and have wondered whether it is perfectly normal for your dog’s tongue to slip out of their mouth while they sleep or if there is something wrong with your dog.
I mean, God forbid that you are admiring the cute factor of your dog and his tongue when they are experiencing an underlying health problem!
In most cases, the good news is that it is perfectly normal for a dog to fall asleep with its tongue sticking out, whether it is only peeping out a little bit of hanging out all the way and dribbling. Would you please keep reading to find out why it happens?
Reasons Why Your Dog Might Sleep With Their Tongue Out
Often the reason your dog’s tongue is hanging out while they sleep is that they are incredibly relaxed. So peaceful in fact that the jaw muscles have completely relaxed, allowing for a gap between the teeth where the tongue can slide out.
Perhaps you have observed your human partner sleeping with their mouth open in the same fashion with saliva running down their face onto the pillow. Many puppies scratch their bed before going to sleep on your bed.
It’s not very attractive, but they are guaranteed to be sleeping very peacefully indeed. We see it even more frequently with young children and babies who fall into a deep sleep with their mouths open.
The only difference between a human and a dog is that a dog’s tongue is much longer, and therefore it can slip out of its mouth more readily if the mouth is not closed correctly.
If your dog has an under-bite or an overbite, this could also affect the tongue’s position, allowing it to slip out of the mouth because the teeth don’t line up correctly.
Another reason your dog’s tongue may be sticking out of their mouth while they sleep is that they are hot. When a dog is too warm, dogs pant to cool down.
So when a dog allows its tongue to hang outside of its mouth, it can help regulate its body temperature. Let’s explore how this happens in the next section.
How Sticking The Tongue Out Helps To Regulate A Dog’s Temperature
It might seem like a bit of an odd thing for a dog to stick their tongue out and pant to cool off on a warm day. However, a dog’s tongue is full of blood vessels.
So when the tongue has contact with the air, the saliva evaporates, cooling down the tongue and releasing heat from the blood supply in the vessels.
The cooled-off blood then flows throughout the dog’s respiratory system, helping to cool the whole dog’s body down.
This is your dog’s method of “sweating.” Humans can sweat all over their bodies, but dogs don’t have the same sweat glands as we do, and they only release heat via the paws and mouth.
Panting helps speed up the process, but allowing the tongue to hang or peep out of the mouth during sleep is also a good way for your dog to avoid overheating in warm weather.
How To Take A Picture Of Your Dog With Their Tongue Out
For some reason, we adore photos of dogs when they have their tongue poking out of the mouth. It can make them look so cute when they are sleeping, so happy when playing, and so dopey and characterful when it hangs out the side of their mouth.
We love it so much that dog owners love to capture those great shots for their Instagram accounts, as they are guaranteed to get plenty of likes and comments.
It can be pretty challenging to take a spontaneous photograph of your pet with their tongue hanging out, though, because the moments are always fleeting and over before you have pointed your smartphone at them.
If your dog is sleeping and the tip of their tongue is visible, you might even be tempted to try and gently pull it out a bit further for a great snap. This is not advisable, however, as you can easily startle your dog.
No matter how sweet and friendly your dog is, any dog can behave unpredictably when shaken, so it is perilous to mess with your dog’s mouth or tongue while they are sleeping and unaware.
A clever and straightforward way of getting that precious tongue-out happy snap of your dog is to smear a little bit of dog-friendly peanut butter onto the nose, and you will soon see their long tongue slither in and out of the mouth to lick it clean.
Dog’s seem to love peanut butter, so make sure you have your camera at the ready. When feeding your dog human foods, you should always ensure that the ingredients are safe for your dog.
For example, some peanut butter has unhealthy and toxic ingredients like sugar, palm oil, and xylitol (a toxic artificial sweetener), so go for a 100% natural option or a pet shop variety formulated especially for dogs.
What Is Hanging Tongue Syndrome?
The exception to normal behavior is when a dog’s tongue constantly hangs outside of its mouth. This could be a medical defect referred to as “Hanging Tongue Syndrome.”
There could be several different reasons why a dog’s tongue hangs out due to medical reasons. For example, a dog may have an injury or a dry or cracked tongue.
There may also be a problem with the dog’s neurological system disabling your dog’s ability to pull the tongue back inside of the mouth.
If you suspect that an underlying medical issue could be at the route of your dog’s hanging out tongue you should take your dog to be examined by a veterinarian. They will be able to run some tests and reach a diagnosis.
It is vital to get your dog seen quickly, as risks are associated with a tongue that hangs outside the mouth.
For example, if the tongue is already dry and cracked, the condition of the tongue can get worse, perhaps developing sore spots and becoming even rougher or swollen. Your dog can also experience sunburn on the tongue.
Are Some Breeds More Prone To Hanging Tongue Syndrome?
There are indeed some dog breeds that are more prone to having hanging tongue syndrome. For example:
- King Charles Spaniel
These are some of the most common breeds of dogs that are associated with hanging tongue syndrome. But just because a dog has the condition, it doesn’t mean they have to live with it. There are a few things that can be done to help these dogs.
Here are some of the options that might be available for your dog to help them feel more comfortable:
- Removal of some teeth
- Surgical shortening of the tongue
- Topical treatments
- Natural oral lubrication (water, olive oil, ice cubes)
You should consult your veterinarian for more advice.
It is normal to feel concerned when you notice something about your dog’s behavior that doesn’t seem quite right, and the best thing you can do is seek out information and professional advice.
While there may be nothing wrong with your dog at all, it is always good to stay on the safe side and check with a veterinary professional when you are worried, as underlying health issues are always a risk to your dog.
Often they can go unnoticed if you are too complacent. It is always better to be observant and act on your instincts when it comes to your pets.