Dogs are very expressive creatures, and their facial expressions are one common way they communicate what they are feeling or thinking. Sometimes, you may catch your dog sticking his tongue out. It’s not uncommon to see your dog using his tongue to groom himself or when eating or drinking. But what does it mean when your dog sticks his tongue out when he is fast asleep?
What is Blepping?
Believe it or not, the internet has bestowed a name upon the phenomenon of a dog or cat that sticks its tongue out when sitting or sleeping: blepping. Blepping is a behavior that is seen not only in dogs and cats but also in other animals such as rabbits and cows.
It is important to note that blepping and panting are two entirely different actions. On the whole, dogs do not pant very often. When your dog is enjoying some playtime, is hot, or has been out for a run, your dog may pant to help cool himself down. Since dogs don’t possess the ability to sweat, they pant to help their skin return to a cooler state.
Some dogs will also pant when under extreme stress of experiencing anxiety. When this happens, there are typically other signs that accompany the panting such as:
- Repeated yawning
- Licking of the lips
In rarer circumstances, some dogs have unusually large tongues, making them difficult for their mouths to contain. As a result, their tongues naturally protrude from their mouths all the time. This is most commonly seen in breeds like the Boxer.
Some brachycephalic breeds like the Pug and French Bulldog also become overheated very easily and may struggle with breathing issues in extremes of temperature. As a result, they can be seen with their tongues hanging out of their mouths in an attempt to cool themselves more rapidly.
What Is Hanging Tongue Syndrome?
When a dog’s tongue continually hangs out of its mouth, some people refer to it as hanging tongue syndrome. Some dogs are born with tongues too large for their mouths. Because of this, their tongue always at the very least peeks out from its mouth whether awake or asleep. Some dogs just prefer this position for their tongue and naturally allow their tongues to dangle from their mouths.
In some cases, dogs that are struggling with dental issues may allow their tongues to hang out of their mouths regularly. This could be the result of dental disease, mouth sores, or other oral health problems.
Can Hanging Tongue Syndrome Be Cured?
Unfortunately, unless hanging tongue syndrome is caused by a dental problem, it is not a curable condition. However, you can help your pup with this by ensuring he always has access to a plentiful supply of water to prevent him from becoming dehydrated.
Hanging tongue syndrome can lead to your dog’s tongue becoming chapped or cracked. This is why ready access to water is so important.
What Does It Mean If My Dog’s Tongue Sticks Out While He is Sleeping?
Most often, if your dog’s tongue is poking out of his mouth while he is at rest, it simply indicates that your dog is feeling very relaxed. As your dog nestles deeper into slumber, the position of his tongue will change.
Sometimes, dogs stick their tongues out of their mouths when they are dehydrated. Though this may seem contrary to what a dog should do if dehydrated, your dog does this to help cool down his body temperature and prevent further dehydration. If your dog is dehydrated, there will be other accompanying signs to let you know this is the problem. They include:
- Poor appetite
- Stickiness of the gums and mouth
- Dry mouth
Are There Other Reasons Why Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out of Their Mouths?
There are many different reasons why dogs stick their tongues out of their mouths. These include:
They are too hot and trying to cool themselves down.
Dogs that are overheated will pant to help restore their body to a normal temperature.
They are feeling relaxed and contented.
When feeling at ease, it is quite common for dogs to allow their tongues to droop from their mouths.
They are responding to a medication, and the hanging tongue is a side effect.
Some medications cause a deep state of relaxation or loss of muscle control that may result in the tongue hanging from your dog’s mouth. This may remedy in time. If not and the condition seems to bother your dog, a trip to your veterinarian can help to set your mind at ease.
They are stressed or highly anxious.
When dogs are stressed or anxious, they often pant.
They are suffering with oral health issues that need addressing.
Dental issues arise with our dogs from time to time particularly as they age. It is well worth having your dog’s teeth checked by your veterinarian once yearly to ensure they are in tip top condition. If your dog’s tongue is hanging out because of an oral health problem, your veterinarian may be able to get to the bottom of the issue and resolve it for you.
Should I Be Worried if My Dog Sticks His Tongue Out When Sleeping?
No, it is not a cause for concern if your dog sticks his tongue out when sleeping. Some dogs do this, and others don’t. It is largely an unconscious habit and can be unique to each individual dog.
If your dog suddenly starts sticking his tongue out regularly when awake, a trip to your veterinarian may be in order. Your vet can examine your dog to determine if there is an underlying issue that requires treatment. Most often, it is a dental problem that can be resolved with the appropriate veterinary care.
Why does my dog sleep with his tongue out? Most often, this simply means that your dog is very relaxed. Much like the expression directed at people “letting it all hang out,” so too sometimes do our dogs follow in our footsteps and let their tongues hang out.