Is your little friend walking around with his tongue sticking out? It can be alarming if your Chihuahua doesn’t normally do this.
A Chihuahua with its tongue out can mean several things, ranging from non-medical issues like being excited to medical concerns like periodontal disease.
As a fellow dog owner, I know how troubling it is when your dog’s behavior deviates from the norm. So, I’ll help you understand why your dog might have their tongue out and when you should take them to the vet.
Non-Medical Reasons Your Chihuahua Sticks Out Its Tongue
Here’s the good news: there are several perfectly normal reasons your dog might be sticking out their tongue, none of which require veterinary care.
1. They’re Relaxed
If your Chihuahua is lounging on the couch with their tongue sticking out, it’s a good sign that they’re simply relaxed. Just like humans sometimes open their mouths when they sleep, Chihuahuas sometimes let loose with their tongues.
So, as long as your Chihuahua doesn’t appear stressed or in pain, you can take it as a compliment that they feel so relaxed at home that they let their tongue hang out.
There’s nothing that needs fixing here. Continue doting on your Chihuahua and giving them the love that makes them feel comfortable enough to relax in this silly way.
2. They’re Hot
Dogs of all breeds stick their tongues out when they’re hot. That’s because panting is the most effective way for dogs to regulate their temperature.
Panting allows moisture to evaporate from your Chihuahua’s tongue, nasal passages, and lungs. The result is similar to the feeling you get when a breeze hits your sweaty skin—the air passing over moisture cools down your dog.
Here’s a fun fact you may not know: Chihuahuas don’t sweat a lot, but when they do, it’s mostly through their paw pads.
Bring your Chihuahua to a cooler location if you believe they’re sticking their tongue out because they’re hot. While panting is healthy and normal, if your Chihuahua seems distressed with its panting, it could be on the brink of heat exhaustion.
In addition to getting your Chihuahua out of the sun, ensure they have access to plenty of water.
3. They’re Happy To See You
Excitement is a common reason that Chihuahuas stick their tongues out. Like with being hot, they do this because they’re panting.
However, panting doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog is hot. Instead, they could be panting out of pure joy (and, perhaps, from the exertion of running around in circles in happiness).
If your Chihuahua doesn’t appear stressed with their panting when they get excited, you don’t have to do anything. However, if they seem to have trouble catching their breath, you should calm them down.
Try taking them to a different room with their bed or picking them up and speaking to them in a soothing voice. It’s also vital that they have access to water.
Medical Reasons Your Chihuahua Sticks Their Tongue Out
There are varying degrees of medical severity that could be behind your Chihuahua sticking out their tongue. You can sometimes resolve these problems with training, while other situations require veterinary intervention.
1. They’re Anxious
According to a study on dogs in Finland, more than 70% showed signs of anxiety in some way. So, the chances are high that your Chihuahua has some anxiety issues, which can range from being nervous when you leave to not liking strangers in the home.
One of the classic signs of anxiety is panting excessively for seemingly no reason. Other signs of anxiety include:
- Tearing things up in your house
Crate training your Chihuahua can be an effective way to help them find a safe space in your home, particularly when you’re out of the house. You can also try using music therapy and ensuring they get exercise.
However, many people find that hiring a trainer is one of the most effective ways to support their Chihuahua in overcoming anxiety.
2. Hanging Tongue Syndrome
Small dog breeds like Chihuahuas can develop a condition called hanging tongue syndrome. It can happen for various reasons, ranging from deformities to neurological problems to missing teeth.
Hanging tongue syndrome is a general term to describe the act of your Chihuahua sticking their tongue out.
It isn’t possible to treat hanging tongue syndrome in many cases. It’s important to bring your Chihuahua to the veterinarian, though, so they can determine if there is a fix.
3. Mouth Injury
Imagine you have a welt or other painful feeling in your mouth. You’d move your tongue around to accommodate it, right?
Chihuahuas do the same thing. And, given that they’re such a small breed, mouth injuries are relatively common. Some of the ways that your Chihuahua could develop a mouth injury include:
- Scrape or puncture from chewing on something
- Bee sting or other insect infliction
- Something stuck in their mouth
- Strained muscle jaws
Even though a Chihuahua with its tongue out can look cute initially, it’s important to take a good look in its mouth to see if you can identify anything that’s physically harming them. If you find a wound that looks swollen or infected, take them to the vet.
4. Tooth Loss
Teeth serve, in part, to hold a Chihuahua’s tongue in place. So, if your Chihuahua suddenly loses one or more teeth, their tongue may be out because of this.
Just like humans, dogs can experience periodontal disease. Although tooth loss and the tongue hanging out are signs of gum disease, there are often signs of it occurring before this, including:
- Bad breath
- Inflamed gums
- Red or bleeding gums
- Loss of appetite
You’ll need to take your Chihuahua to the veterinarian, as they’ll need to perform a dental exam and cleaning. They’ll typically run bloodwork and put your dog under anesthesia. With any luck, your veterinarian will be able to treat periodontal disease.
However, your Chihuahua will likely live the rest of its life with their tongue hanging out.
5. Neurological Issue
In worst-case scenarios, your Chihuahua might have their tongue out because they’re experiencing a neurological issue. Seizures are the most common cause of this, and symptoms include:
- Tongue chewing
- Foaming at the mouth
- Muscle twitching
It’s vital to take your Chihuahua to the vet immediately if you believe they’re experiencing a neurological issue like a seizure. Kidney disease, brain cancer, eating a poisonous substance, and anemia can all lead to this condition.
6. Physical Deformities
Just like humans, Chihuahuas sometimes arrive in the world with jaw deformities. Situations like an overbite, underbite, or any other irregular bite can cause them to walk around with their tongue hanging out.
In other cases, your Chihuahua might have had a long tongue since birth. After all, there’s not a lot of room to store it.
Your veterinarian will be able to identify if your dog has an issue with their jaw bite. In some cases, they may perform surgery to fix the bite, helping your pooch live a life with their tongue in their mouth.
Long tongues are common in Chihuahuas, and there usually isn’t anything veterinarians can do about it. You should ensure they always have access to water, though, to reduce the chances of your Chihuahua’s tongue drying out.
Embracing Your Chihuahua
In some cases, the best thing you can do for a Chihuahua with its tongue out is to take them to the vet and then love them for this quirky feature.
Other times, there’s no medical reason at play for your Chihuahua’s tongue-hanging behavior. Regardless, I encourage you to take your Chihuahua to the vet if you have any concerns about their tongue hanging out.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.