Why Do Dogs Sleep With Their Tongues Out?


dog sleeping in bed with the eyes open

Images of adorable dogs sleeping with their tongues out abound on search engines and private websites. After all, the sight of a beautiful canine snoozing with the tongue out can have a mesmerizing effect on anyone.

While many of us may not be too concerned about that development especially when the dog is showing no additional signs of being stressed or sick, we might still be curious enough about the reasons why that happens in the first place.

Why do dogs sleep with their tongues out? Dogs sleep with their tongues out as a cooling mechanism to maintain their body temperature during excessive heat. Canines suffering from hanging tongue syndrome or enjoying pleasant dreams may also draw out their tongues unconsciously during sleep.

Thus, seeing your dog lying down with its tongue out can be taken as a cue to refill its water bowl, lower the room temperatureOpens in a new tab. in the sleeping environment, and undertake additional actions that can improve its comfort during hot summers.

Reasons Why Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out During Sleep

Understanding the underlying reasons behind your pooch’s penchant for sticking out its tongue during napping can come in handy in many ways. It can help you provide more comfortOpens in a new tab. or seek veterinary care in situations where your dog might be in pain.

Shall we take a deeper look into the reasons why it happens in the first place?

1. Hanging Tongue Syndrome 

Hanging Tongue SyndromeOpens in a new tab. is a medical condition that forces dogs to stick out their tongue all the time.  The condition may be caused by an injury, disease, or congenital effect and may lead to severe side effects that can affect a dog’s quality of life.

Not all dogs that stick their tongues out during sleep may be suffering from this condition. Hence, it is important to look out for additional signs such as bad breath, thickening, and bleeding of the tongue, tongue drying, and signs of tongue swelling.

Once you notice enough signs to suspect that a pooch may have developed Hanging Tongue Syndrome, taking it to the pet clinic for a full diagnosis may be the best step. The Veterinarian will likely run a series of tests and begin full treatment when the condition is confirmed.

2. Mouth Breathing 

Like humans, dogs breathe through their noses and mouths but the difference is that our furry friends can do both at the same time. A dog sleeping with the tongue out may only be using that as a mechanism to draw in deeper breaths through the mouth.

Healthy dogs engaged in mouth breathing may exhibit signs of peaceful sleepingOpens in a new tab. with absolutely no physical behaviors indicating that they may be in pain or distress. Just enjoy the sight of the stuck-out tongue and take pictures for your album.

2. Deeper Relaxation After A Long Day

Sticking out the tongue can be a sign of deep relaxation after a long, hard day. This behavior may be exhibited by dogs who do not normally stick out their tongues.

Sometimes, a dog can go through a long day of physical activity which may interfere with its regular sleeping schedule that typically includes long afternoon naps.

For instance, it is no secret that many dogs do not enjoy long car rides. If you’ve been road tripping with your favorite pooch then he may have struggled to get any sleep all day. The accumulated fatigue can increase the need for deeper relaxation when he finally gets the chance to sleep.

Thus, do not be surprised to see him sticking out the tongue during the snooze even if it is not a common occurrence.

3. Panting 

Dogs are physically active pets that like to get in the thick of the action. From running around all day during playful times with other pups to chasing down squirrels or other smaller beasts, these physical activities can lead to an increased need to restock their oxygen supplies.

Dogs use panting as a biological tool to draw in quicker breaths that can increase the breathing rate by up to 1000% percent.

The majority of dogs stick out their tongues during panting whether they’re lying down, sitting, or standing. Long after the breathing rate returns to normal levels, the dog may still leave its tongue out so don’t be surprised if you spot such signs.

4. Heatstroke, Poisoning, or Stress

dog sticking its tongue out during sunny weather

Unfortunately, tongue sticking may also be a sign of distress in a dog. It can be a common occurrence during heat strokes, a condition that becomes prevalent when dogs are placed in environments with excessive temperatures leading to breathing problems and even seizures.

A dog suffering from food poisoning may also stick out its tongue while lying down. However, food poisoning may be characterized by additional signs such as diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.

In severe cases, dogs may also suffer labored breathing or even become unconscious after ingesting contaminated food.

Side Effects Of Dogs Sleeping With Their Tongues Out 

You’re now aware that a dog sticking out its tongue during sleep may be nothing to freak out over. However, the next question may be whether the habit can be detrimental to its health in any way especially when it becomes frequent.

Let us delve into a few side effects of dogs sleeping with their tongues out.

1. Dry and Cracked Tongues

Dogs that sleep with their tongues out may develop dry and cracked tongues. This is because the habit can rob the tongue of the normal amounts of moisture it receives from the saliva in the mouth.

A dry and cracked tongue can be a terrible sight and may leave many committed owners worried about the overall health of their pooches.

2. Develop Infections 

Dogs that stick out their tongues during sleep can become prone to a myriad of infections. The dry and cracked tongue can attract flies and other potentially harmful insects that may be carriers of pathogens.

The stuck out tongues in dogs can also attract harmful bacteria, fungus, and parasites that can cause various degrees of diseases and infections. 

3. Frostbites

dog with the tongue out during cold weather

Frostbites can be a real problem among dogs that sleep with their tongues out during cold weather. This essentially is a condition that results in the freezing of the tongue which can expose your furry friend to hypothermia.

Hypothermia is a serious condition that can turn fatal. If your pooch is sleeping with the tongue out during freezing temperatures, you should find ways of providing warmth before tragedy strikes.

A smart method may be to serve the freezing dog with warm food. This should melt the ice on its tongue and increase the internal body temperature.

4. Sunburns

A dog with a habit of sticking out the tongue during sleep or otherwise can suffer tongue sunburns during the summer and other hot periods of the year. If you live in a city with year-round sun, this can be a huge problem.

You may not be able to prevent your beloved pooch from sticking out its tongue but you can at least provide some shade on hot sunny days.

Common Breeds That Sleep With Their Tongues Out

Sleeping with the tongue out is not restricted to any breed of dogs. However, the habit is more prevalent in specific breeds more than others.

Dogs having small frames with long-sized tongues that may be difficult to stick into their mouths, in particular, usually sleep with the tongue out.

A few breeds that habitually stick out their tongues include:

  • Pugs 
  • Bulldogs 
  • Chihuahuas
  • King Charles Spaniels
  • Mastiffs

Other Periods Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out Aside Sleeping 

Your furry friend may not only stick out the tongue during sleep. Here are additional scenarios where it may exhibit signs of the habit.

Hunger

A dog sticking out its tongue repeatedly may be hungry. Sure, the little guy may be able to go 3-4 days without eating as long as adequate water is served. However, dogs can easily get used to specific feeding schedules

If a canine uncharacteristically sticks out its tongue and approaches you with sad eyes begging for food, chances are it may be hungry. This is especially true among dogs who have not been fed for several days or well past the daily schedule.

Additionally, dogs may also stick their tongues out after smelling their favorite food. With their sharp sense of smell, salivating and becoming excited after sensing their favorite chow is normal.

New Medication 

Puppies who have received new medication may resort to sticking out their tongues. However, this may be a bad reaction to the drugs so speaking to the Vet immediately can be a good idea. Be sure to point any additional signs you may have noticed in the dog.

Conclusion 

Dogs sleep with their tongues out to cool down the body temperature during heatwaves and other hot periods of the year. After an exhaustive day, your favorite pooch may also stick out its tongue while napping to enjoy deeper relaxation.

All of these are positive behaviors that should not lead to fear and panic. However, If your dog is panting profusely in addition to leaving the tongue out without engaging in any physically demanding activities, you may have to speak to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

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