Your dog’s doing a weird thing — sleeping with their tongue out. Is it weird, though? And what does it mean? Let’s take a deep look below.
A dog can stick its tongue out while sleeping for many reasons. The most common one is that your dog is relaxed. This is called a “tongue blep” by animal lovers everywhere.
Other reasons for sleeping with their tongue out could be temperature regulation, anxiety, side effects from medication, dental concerns, or just a case of hanging tongue syndrome.
Why does my dog’s tongue hang out when he’s sleeping?
If you notice that your dog is only sticking its tongue out when they are asleep, it means that they’re in the deep cycles of sleep and are enjoying their slumber. Many refer to this as REM sleep since it is a deeper sleep where the brain goes wild. This could result in the tongue sticking out (similar to how humans drool when they “sleep well.”)
Top reasons dogs let their tongues hang out
If you’ve realized that your dog sticks his tongue out while asleep but also other times when conscious, too, you might be curious as to why. Some of the most common reasons from one dog breed to another include:
- Temperature regulation
- Extreme stress/anxiety
- Medication side effects
- Dental concerns
- Hanging tongue syndrome
Dogs pant to control their temperature, of course. If your dog’s tongue is simply hanging out, they might just be cooling off and don’t need to pant. Their entire tongue could be out, or it could just be the tip of it. It depends on the dog and their need to adjust their temperature!
For many dogs, the cute tongue blep is just a sign of relaxation. Maybe they’re sitting, staring out the window, or perhaps they’re fast asleep on your bed. Regardless, they’re happy dogs and are showing that to you by sticking their tongue out! Often, they aren’t even aware of it, which is a massive part of what makes it so cute and funny!
On the other hand, some dogs may stick their tongue out when really stressed and anxious. The keyword here is “really.” As in, stressed out to the maximum. Their panic leads to overheating, and this can lead to their tongue sticking out. Keep in mind that dogs will pair this kind of tongue behavior with other apparent signs of distress and panic, so you don’t need to suddenly start scoping out your dog for signs of extreme stress that they otherwise hid!
Medication side effects
Sometimes, dogs will have side effects to medications. These side effects can cause them either temperature issues or discomfort that can show up as stress. If you notice that our dog is panting a lot or just has his tongue out constantly (out of the ordinary), then you might be dealing with side effects to a medication! This is especially likely if the medication is new, of course.
If your dog is having dental discomfort, they may be sticking their tongue out just to, essentially, get it out of the way. This forces them to mouth-breathe, and they’ll most likely enjoy the colder air that will help deal with dental decay or an infection, etc. This could be a likely scenario if you notice that this new behavior is paired with a foul odor!
Hanging tongue syndrome
This is pretty self-explanatory as far as its actual description. However, the cause is often really interesting. Some dog breeds have tongues that are too large for their mouths. For example, flat-faced breeds. In these cases, a dog may have its tongue out because it just doesn’t fit comfortably in its mouth! They are tired of “tripping over it,” so they stick it out instead so that they can enjoy more comfort.
What to do about your dog sleeping with its tongue out
If you’re feeling concerned about it, then you can take them to the vet to see what’s going on. This is a great idea if you notice that this is a new behavior and want to make sure that everything’s okay. A vet will be able to check for anything underlying that you might not see otherwise.
If you are confident that your dog is just sticking their tongue out for a normal reason, however, there’s not much that you can do! This is just a behavior that dogs have that is a part of their personality.
Why do senior dogs sleep with their tongues out?
If you notice that your senior dog has started sleeping with their tongue sticking out, they most likely have a dental issue! Or, they could be tired more than they would have been in earlier years, which allows them to drift off into peaceful sleep.
Again, a trip to the vet is an excellent idea if you are concerned, but otherwise, it’s not something to worry about too much.
My dog is sticking their tongue out and shaking while sleeping: should I worry?
It’s common for many to be fearful when they see their dog shaking with their tongue out. It must be a seizure, right?
Epilepsy is not all that common in dogs, but it can be an option. You’ll know it’s a seizure if your dog has its eyes wide open, is shaking/trembling with its tongue out, and doesn’t wake up/respond when you call their name.
If this isn’t the case, it just means that your dog has ad ream of some sort and is moving/talking in its sleep — just as humans do!
Is there a cure for hanging tongue syndrome?
There is no known cure for hanging tongue syndrome. If it bothers you, this is a detail to keep in mind when researching dog breeds. Flat-faced breeds and particularly small/designer breeds are more likely to have these issues than classic breeds. That being said, any dog can have hanging tongue syndrome, and it can “pop out” — see what we did there? — at any age.
If you are concerned about it, you can talk to your vet to see if they can recommend exercises or obedience training commands that you can teach your dog to help minimize their tongue bleps.
Please remember to never chastise your dog for sticking its tongue out. They are doing it for an essential reason to their health (physical or mental/emotional), or they are unaware that they are even doing it. Punishing your dog in either situation won’t help anything.
Do I need to worry about my dog’s tongue hanging out?
For the most part, no. You don’t need to worry about your dog sticking their tongue out or sleeping with their tongue sticking out. It’s just an adorable characteristic. However, sometimes this behavior — especially if its’ a common one — can lead to some mouth issues.
You’ll need to prioritize dental hygiene even more so with a dog who has hanging tongue syndrome. Since he’ll be mouth-breathing, this makes him more likely to deal with dental issues.
You’ll also want to make sure that your dog has plenty of access to water since their tongue will be drier. If they have a dry and cracked tongue, you can consider olive oil or a vet-approved product to help keep their tongue moist.
On a final note
The most common reason for a dog to stick his tongue out while sleeping or awake is relaxation.
Other options include temperature regulation, anxiety, side effects from medication, dental concerns, and hanging tongue syndrome. It can mean that they need medical attention in rare cases, so make sure you know how to separate a harmless blep from a harmful one!
As weird as it may look, a dog with their tongue sticking out when they sleep is pretty standard and a sign of good things, for the most part.
Know someone who’s feeling perturbed? Consider sharing this with them to show them just how adorable tongue bleps are!