Dogs are a man’s best friend for many reasons, one of which is that they come in all different shapes and sizes.
While we may think we know dog breeds like the back of our hands, there are always new things to learn about our furry friends, including what the miscolored tongue means! So, what does a blue tongue mean on a dog?
Read on and see for yourself!
What Does a Blue Tongue Mean on a Dog
If you’re a dog owner, you most likely get kisses from your dog daily. But have you noticed that the tongue feels cold or even discolored?
A blue or purple tongue on a dog is usually a red flag. The typical dog tongue color is deep pink, so when a pup’s tongue turns blue, it can indicate health problems. If your dog is with a blue tongue and doesn’t belong to any of the following breeds: Chow Chow, Eurasier, or Shar Pei (known for natural blue tongues), it’s likely that it has cyanosis.
Cyanosis occurs when there is insufficient oxygen in the blood, and blue, discolored spots on any part of the body are sure signs of this.
This can happen for various reasons, including heart problems, lung problems, and exposure to cold temperatures. In some cases, cyanosis may indicate something more serious, so if you notice that your dog’s tongue has turned blue, it’s crucial to take him to the vet immediately.
Some dogs will have circulatory problems which can result in cyanosis, such as:
- Heart valve degeneration,
- Damage to the cardiac muscle itself,
- A buildup of blood or fluid in the pericardium,
- Pulmonary blood clots,
- Pulmonary hypertension,
- The body’s immune system destroying red blood cells.
Other Causes of Color of Dog’s Tongue
Besides cyanosis, a dog’s tongue can turn blue for several reasons. Let’s explore some of these causes.
- Being in cold water for too long: If a dog spends too much time in cold water, its tongue may start turning blue. This is because cold temperatures can cause the blood vessels in the tongue to constrict.
- Choking: When a dog is choking, its tongue may turn blue because of the obstruction in the throat that blocks oxygen flow. If this happens, it’s essential to seek veterinary care immediately.
- Smoke: Inhaling smoke can cause a dog’s tongue to turn blue due to the lack of oxygen in the air. If your dog has been exposed to smoke, give them plenty of fresh air and water. A lack of oxygen, aka asphyxiation, can also occur when there’s smoke from a fire.
- Poison: If your dog ingests a poisonous substance, it may cause a dark tongue. This is because the poison can inhibit oxygen from being transported to the tissue. If you think your dog has ingested poison, a trip to the vet is inevitable.
As you can see, a blue tongue usually means bad news for your furry friend. Just be mindful of your dog’s environment and what they’re ingesting to avoid these situations. And as always, if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
What Dog Has Blue Tongue
Only three dog breeds we know of so far have naturally blue tongues. Let’s have a look at these unique dogs and what makes them so special.
Chow Chow dogs are most easily identified by their blue tongues. This blue color is a result of the particular skin pigment these dogs naturally carry. Chow Chow is a Chinese breed of dog that’s been around for centuries.
They were originally bred as hunting dogs, but today they are more commonly kept as pets.
They are typically large dogs—males are about 17 inches and females around 16 inches tall on average. They have thick coats in various colors like black, white, brown, cream red, and gray.
The Shar-Pei is a medium-sized dog known for its wrinkled skin and distinct blue-black tongue. The breed originated in China, where they were used for hunting and guarding.
Today, Shar-Peis make excellent companion animals and are known for their loyalty and intelligence. Shar-Peis typically weigh between 50 and 60 pounds and stand about 18 inches tall at the shoulder.
They are loyal and loving companions but can be possessive of their owners and sometimes aggressive with other dogs. It’s also a very active breed, so it needs plenty of exercise.
One of the newer dog breeds, the Eurasier, was developed in Germany in 1960. It is a cross between the Chow Chow, Keeshond, and Samoyed, with some traits from each breed.
The goal was to create a dog that combined:
- the physical appearance of the Chow Chow,
- the intelligence and friendliness of the Keeshond, and
- the ability to get along with the children of the Samoyed.
They have a dense double coat that can be either black and tan or wolf gray. They are loyal and protective of their family, but they are also good with children and other pets.
Color of Dog’s Tongue: A Chart
Did you know that you can predict a dog’s health by the color of its tongue? A dog’s tongue can be one of four colors: red, pale pink, purple, or black. If a dog’s tongue isn’t naturally purple or blue, it must be some shade of pink. This is why we use this chart to help us know the state of an individual dog’s health:
- Red tongue: A dog with a red tongue is healthy and has no medical issues.
- Pale pink tongue: A dog with a pale pink tongue (or even a white tongue) may have leukemia or anemia. The whiter the tongue, the fewer blood cells are present.
- Purple tongue: Unless your dog is one of the three breeds that normally has a purplish-blue tongue, it probably lacks oxygen in its blood or is not getting enough circulation. This can be caused by poisoning, heart disease, pneumonia, or other respiratory problems.
- Black tongue: Also known as chronic niacin deficiency, this can cause various health concerns: severe weight loss (even anorexia), inflammation, ulceration, and eventually death. This is a big and urgent red flag, and the chances of saving your dog are slim without professional medical help.
As you can see, tongue color is a serious business for dogs. If you notice that your dog’s tongue isn’t its usual color, take them to the vet immediately for a check-up. It could be something, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Is a Blue Tongue in a Dog Treatable
The treatment for cyanosis depends on the underlying cause.
- If the cause is a heart problem, treatment may involve medication or surgery;
- If the cause is a lung problem, treatment may involve oxygen therapy or other respiratory treatments;
- If the cause is exposure to cold temperatures, treatment may involve warming the affected area.
The underlying diagnosis will also influence any potential changes in lifestyle deemed necessary. For example, they may need a special diet or less activity. In some cases, the root cause of cyanosis in a dog‘s tongue can be deadly or irreversible.
Knowing this, it’s important to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice any hint of blue or purple in its gums, skin, or nails. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to the best possible outcome for your dog.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do when your dog’s tongue is blue?
If your dog’s tongue is blue, it’s a clear sign that it needs immediate medical attention. Cyanosis can be caused by numerous conditions, including anemia, heartworm disease, and respiratory problems.
If you suspect your dog may suffer from one of these conditions, take it to the vet immediately. Time is of the essence when treating sick dogs, so don’t wait to see if things get better.
How long do dogs live with cyanosis?
In severe cases, where the dog’s blood oxygen levels are deficient, it may only be a matter of hours before the dog passes away. This is why immediate veterinary visits are a must.
So, what does a blue tongue mean on a dog?
In short, it could mean that your pup is under the weather or that a more severe underlying condition is bothering it. Take your puppy for a check-up if you notice other symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, or vomiting and diarrhea.
A blue tongue can also be caused by environmental factors like poisoning, smoke, or cold weather. An urgent trip to the vet is the only way to know for sure and get your dog the treatment it needs.