What Really Causes Your Dog to Sleep With Its Tongue Out?

Learn the causes of your dog sleeping with its tongue out, from being happy and comfortable to genetics and illnesses. While it's usually harmless, discover the risks that could be involved with this behavior and what to do if you notice any unusual symptoms.

What Really Causes Your Dog to Sleep With Its Tongue Out?

Learn the causes of your dog sleeping with its tongue out, from being happy and comfortable to genetics and illnesses. While it's usually harmless, discover the risks that could be involved with this behavior and what to do if you notice any unusual symptoms.

A happy dog sleeping with his tongue out in the grass

Photo by Willian Santos

Have you ever noticed your dog sleeping with its tongue out? This is a common behavior among dogs, and while it may seem odd, there are actually several explanations as to why they do it. From simply being happy and comfortable to genetic factors and medical conditions, there are a variety of reasons why your pup may be sleeping with its tongue out. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common reasons and explore potential risks associated with this behavior.

Why Does a Dog Sleep With Its Tongue Out?

A dog sleeping with its tongue out is a behavior that stems from a variety of reasons. Most of them are harmless, but it’s always wise to watch for any other symptoms and consult a vet if you suspect there may be an underlying medical problem. Below are the most common reasons why dogs sleep with their tongues hanging out:

1. They are Comfortable

Dogs often sleep with their tongues out simply because they're feeling comfortable and relaxed. It's a clear sign of pure bliss and contentment. A dog is more likely to snooze with their tongue out if they are extremely relaxed, such as when they are lying on a plush dog bed. Every muscle, including the tongue, relaxes while they sleep. Because of this, the tongue may just loosen up and fall out.

Along with their tongue sticking out, a relaxed posture that is not tense or stiff indicates that your dog is content and at ease while dozing. Your dog may exhibit several telltale signs of extreme relaxation, such as slackened shoulders, soft eyes without a fixed glare, and a generally mellow appearance.

In addition, if your dog is exhausted after running around, playing games, or chewing on bones, they may be more likely to stick their tongue out as they drift off to sleep.

2. Temperature Control

It’s no secret that dogs use their tongues to keep cool. While the tongue itself doesn’t produce sweat, it does help regulate body temperature. Dogs sweat from their paw pads and nose, but the tongue is essential to regulating a dog’s body temperature.

When your dog sticks his tongue out while sleeping, it comes into contact with cool air and allows saliva to evaporate, releasing heat. This is known as thermoregulation and can help keep them at a comfortable temperature.

Note that there's a difference between your dog passively sleeping with its tongue out and actually panting. Panting at night could be a sign of something more concerning, especially if your pet is not doing it to regulate its temperature.

Dogs may pant at nighttime due to fear, anxiety, stress, or other emotional issues. If you're worried about your pet panting at night, it's always prudent to contact your veterinarian for advice.

3. Genetic Factors

Genetic factors are an extremely significant factor to consider when it comes to why a dog might sleep with its tongue out. This can be due to a number of different things, but the main ones are:

  1. the size of the tongue is too large for the oral cavity
  2. there is an abnormal jaw bone shape that does not support the tongue well
  3. there are missing teeth that allow the tongue to slip out through the gap

For example, certain breeds of dogs, such as brachycephalic breeds, have a “smooshed” face with a larger tongue than their oral cavity can contain. This makes it more likely that they will stick their tongues out while sleeping due to a lack of support.

Brachycephalic breeds, like bulldogs, are more likely to sleep with their tongues out.

Photo by Rebecca Campbell on Unsplash

4. Underlying Health Issues

When a dog sleeps with its tongue out it can be an indication of an underlying medical condition. These conditions can range from congenital defects, injuries, dental disease, and neurological damage.

Additionally, some dogs may have missing teeth which make it more difficult to keep their tongue in their mouth while they sleep. In these cases, the only solution is to get them to the vet and have the necessary treatments done to address the underlying issue.

Keep an eye out for any symptoms that might indicate a potential underlying medical condition, as this might cause your dog to sleep with its tongue out.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Uncontrolled tongue that hangs out of the mouth on a consistent basis
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Drooling
  • Swollen tongue
  • Sores or bleeding gums
  • Malfunctioning jaw
  • Shyness or reluctance to have their mouth examined
  • Signs of gum disease, cracked teeth or other oral defects
  • Panting while sleeping
  • Snoring while sleeping
  • Obstructed airway or nasal obstruction
  • Allergic reactions

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog it is critical to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be able to correct the problem which involves cutting the band of tissue that tethers the dog's tongue. Keeping an eye out for these symptoms can help ensure that your dog's health and well-being is taken care of.

What to Do When Your Dog Sleeps With Its Tongue Out

If your dog has been sleeping with its tongue out and there don't appear to be any other symptoms, then the chances are it's completely harmless. However, some breeds are more prone to sticking their tongues out than others, including brachycephalic dogs such as pugs and bulldogs. The most helpful thing you can do is take a photo of your pet when they're in this position. You can then show it to your vet just to be on the safe side.

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Adorable dog soundly sleeping with its tongue sticking out

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, a dog sleeping with its tongue out is a common behavior that can stem from a variety of reasons ranging from genetic factors to simply being comfortable. While most of the time it's harmless, if you're worried about your pup, it's always smart to consult your veterinarian. If your dog is panting at night, it could be a sign of anxiety and should be addressed. If you think your pup may be struggling with anxiety, contact your vet and explore potential solutions.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek


(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)