Dog Tongue Hanging Out

Not everyone knows that a dog tongue also acts as a thermostat, regulating a dog’s body heat. A dog’s tongue is very versatile since a dog uses his tongue for eating, licking, cleaning, greeting and for heat regulating. Heat regulation is done by the tongue hanging out of the owner’s mouth and cooling down through water evaporation.

Dog Tongue Is An Organ

A dog’s tongue contains taste buds on different regions that react to sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The reaction of these different regions to food combine to make foods taste as it does. The tongue also moves food around within the mouth as the dog is chewing so that food is placed between the teeth and ground down into smaller bits that are more easily swallowed and then more easily digested. The tongue must dodge the teeth to prevent from being bitten. A dog’s tongue also “scoops” up liquids by forming a “trough-like” shape. In this way, the tongue brings water (or any other liquid) into the mouth to be swallowed.

A dog uses his tongue for other jobs as well. Licking away debris or food scraps on his paws is another important job done by a dog’s tongue. A dog uses his tongue for cleaning and for greeting other animals or owner(s) by licking. However, the most important job a dog’s tongue performs is that of regulating body heat.

Tongue Acts As A Thermostat

People sweat because water on the skin evaporates, thereby cooling the surface of the skin. Since dogs do not have sweat glands and because their skin is covered by fur, they must “sweat” using another method. Dogs lower their body temperature by panting.

When a dog’s body temperature rises, the tongue will hang outside of the mouth. In fact, a dog’s tongue actually increases in size during exercise due to the increased blood flow within the tongue. As the tongue gets larger, the dog will pant. These shallow, quick breaths cause the dog’s wet tongue to evaporate moisture, thereby cooling the dog’s tongue. Since blood flows through the tongue, it is cooled off, which in turn is circulated throughout the body, decreasing the body’s temperature.

This is why it is so dangerous to leave a dog in a hot unventilated car. A dog inside a car cannot cool off his tongue because he has no access to cool air. Because he cannot cool off his tongue, he is unable to decrease his body’s temperature, resulting in heat exhaustion or worse.

Tongue’s Importance and Variety of Jobs

The tongue is one of the more important parts of a dog’s body. It performs a number of different yet important jobs.

The following is a list of some of the jobs a dog’s tongue performs:

  • Tasting
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Cleaning away debris
  • Keeping puppies clean
  • Stimulating puppies by licking them
  • Cleaning wounds
  • Greeting other animals or human owners
  • Regulating body heat through panting and water evaporation