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Home > Dogs > Why Is My Dog’s Tongue Hot? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Why Is My Dog’s Tongue Hot? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Ugly Dog with his tongue out

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A dog’s tongue plays a vital role in how they interact with their environment, from licking your face in greeting, to panting after a run through the woods. If you’ve noticed it feels hot, you might wonder why and if it’s something to be concerned about. Thankfully, a hot tongue is generally nothing to worry about, but on some occasions, it might warrant a trip to the veterinarian. So, let’s examine why your dog’s tongue might be hot and what you should do about it.


The 4 Reasons That Your Dog’s Tongue Is Hot

1. Naturally Warmer Than Us

Dogs run hotter than we do; their average is around 101 to 102.5°F, compared with our 98.6°F. This means it might feel warm when they lick you on the face, but actually, it’s at a completely normal temperature.

A dog’s mouth is not the best way to determine their temperature, which is why you’ll have noticed the veterinarian sticking a thermometer up your dog’s bottom instead of in their mouth. This, and the fact that if they were to put a thermometer in your dog’s mouth, they might not get it back!

vizsla pitbull mix puppy dog with tongue out
Image Credit: Michael J Magee, Shutterstock

2. Cooling Down

Dogs don’t sweat like we do to cool down. Instead, their tongue helps lower their body temperature. Panting works much like sweat in the sense that as the water on their tongues evaporates, it cools them down, much in the same way sweat evaporates off our skin and cools us down. As your dog does this, you might notice that their tongue feels warmer than usual.

3. Heatstroke

If your dog’s temperature reaches above 106°F without previous signs of being unwell, and they’ve been exposed to excessive environmental heat or humidity, it is safe to assume they are suffering from heatstroke.

Other signs of heatstroke include:
  • Abnormal gum color
  • Bruising of the gums
  • Dry or sticky gums
  • Elevated breathing rates
  • Lethargy or disorientation
  • Seizures

If their temperature reaches about 107°F to 109°F, multiple organ failure and death can occur, so you must act swiftly. You must reduce your dog’s temperature in a controlled, safe manner. Pour cool (but not cold) water over the stomach, head, feet, and armpits, or apply cool cloths to these areas and replace them continuously. If possible, make sure air flows across their body to increase water evaporation.

Contact your vet as soon as possible and follow their advice. Generally, if a dog’s temperature hasn’t become extremely high, they will be fine and recover quickly. However, heatstroke can result in organ damage, and dogs have been known to die later from complications.

Because panting relies on water evaporation to cool your dog down, they can suffer from heat stroke at much lower temperatures if the conditions are humid.

cute pug dog suffering from heat stroke near bowl of water on floor at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

4. Fever

Fever can cause your dog’s tongue to become hot. If your dog’s temperature is above the normal range of 102.5°F, and they haven’t just come in from running around, they are considered to have a fever. Signs of a fever can vary from mild to severe and include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, shivering, and loss of appetite. Identifying if your dog has a fever can be tricky, as they run naturally hotter than humans. So, generally, it’s caught by the vet.

There are a variety of causes of fevers in dogs, such as:
  • Cancer
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Immune-mediated

A dog’s ears are a more reliable way to tell if your dog has a high temperature. If your dog feels warmer than usual, take them to the vet. It’s considered an emergency if they have blood in their vomit or stool, stop eating, become lethargic, or their fever reaches 104.5°F. Never try to treat your dog’s fever at home; there could be something seriously wrong, and most human medications can be harmful, even toxic, for your pet.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Does a Healthy Tongue Look Like?

You might assume that a healthy dog’s tongue is bright pink, and that is true for many, but not all dogs have pink tongues. Shar-Peis and Chow Chows, for example, have blue-black or blue tongues. Some mixes even have spots of color on their tongues.

It’s essential to be familiar with what your dog’s tongue looks like; that way, you will notice when or if it changes. A change to a dog’s tongue can indicate a medical emergency, for example:

  • Dark red or blue tongues can indicate heart/lung disease, toxin exposure, electrical shock, or heatstroke.
  • Pale pink or white tongues can indicate internal bleeding or anemia.

If you notice any changes to your dog’s tongue, contact your vet immediately.

hokkaido dog smiling with tongue
Image Credit: Happy monkey, Shutterstock

How Can You Tell if Your Dog Is Unwell?

Identifying if you should be worried about your dog is sometimes tricky because they can’t tell us what’s happening. That’s why it’s crucial to be familiar with what subtle signs your dog might show to hint they aren’t feeling like themselves.

So, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for:
  • Aggression
  • Changes in water and food intake
  • Confusion
  • Excessive licking (you, themselves, or objects)
  • Excessive panting
  • Eye changes
  • Hiding
  • Lethargy
  • Problems urinating
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in voice



If your dog’s tongue feels hot but they haven’t shown any signs of being unwell, they’re likely fine. Dogs run hotter than humans, and their temperature might rise slightly when they’re running around and enjoying themselves.

However, if you notice other signs accompanying a warmer-than-usual tongue, such as lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea, contact your vet for an examination.

Featured Image Credit: John Carnemolla, Shutterstock

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