Isn’t it adorable seeing Chihuahuas with their tongue out?
Most of us probably have a photo of their Chi doing this.
But what if they stick their tongue out all the time?
While it may look harmless, it could be a sign of underlying health issues.
Don’t be quick to worry though.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- How to distinguish if your Chi has hanging tongue syndrome.
- 13 weird reasons why your Chihuahua sticks their tongue out.
- If sticking their tongue out is a sign of any underlying health issues.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- Why does my Chihuahua’s tongue stick out?
- 13 reasons why your Chihuahua’s tongue is sticking out
- #1: Your Chi is feeling hot
- #2: Dehydration
- #3: Your Chi is excited
- #4: Your Chi is feeling relaxed
- #5: They’re reacting to a new medication
- #6: Hanging tongue syndrome
- #7: Mouth injury
- #8: Dental problems
- #9: Mouth deformities
- #10: Neurological problems
- #11: Oral cancer
- #12: Old age
- #13: They’re tasting the air
Why does my Chihuahua’s tongue stick out?
Chihuahuas stick their tongue out because they’re feeling hot, relaxed, or excited. It can also be a sign of health issues such as dehydration, hanging tongue syndrome, mouth injury, missing teeth, or mouth deformities. Or they might be suffering from neurological problems or oral cancer.
13 reasons why your Chihuahua’s tongue is sticking out
#1: Your Chi is feeling hot
A common reason Chihuahuas stick their tongue out is that they’re panting.
It’s typical dog behavior. And they often do this when they feel hot.
Dogs are more sensitive to heat than humans. This is because they don’t sweat like us.
So for them to cool down, they use their mouths instead.
Panting allows dogs to release heat from their mouth and keep their tongue cool. This helps them regulate their body temperature.
However, there are times when your Chi might not be able to handle the heat.
When the temperature is too hot, they could experience heat exhaustion.
In the worst cases, it could lead to heatstroke.
But there’s good news. A recent study says we can prevent the risk of heatstroke we detect the signs early.
Here’s what to watch out for:
- Excessive drooling.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Dark or bright red gums.
It may also progress to worse symptoms such as:
- Rapid heartbeat.
Once you notice any of these signs, take immediate action.
And do the following to cool them down:
- Bring them to a cooler place (in front of a fan or an airconditioned room).
- Place a wet cloth in your Chi’s neck, armpits, and hind legs. (Don’t use cold water!)
- Provide them small amounts of cool or lukewarm water to drink.
- Take them to the vet for additional monitoring.
Caution: Heat exhaustion could make your pooch lose consciousness. If this happens, immediately take them to a veterinary hospital.
To further prevent this, you can also do the following tips:
- Never leave them alone inside a car.
- Limit outdoor activity during humid days.
- Provide them with shady areas to rest while outside.
- Avoid taking them for a walk during warmer hours of the day.
Providing your Chi with access to plenty of water can also prevent heat exhaustion.
This is necessary as being overheated could lead to…
Do you make sure that your Chi is hydrated?
Dehydration could be the reason why they’re sticking their tongue out.
And it can be life-threatening to your pooch.
According to AKC, it can even lead to kidney and other organ failures.
This is why as responsible pet parents, we should be vigilant. And watch out for the following warning signs:
- Dry nose.
- Thick saliva.
- Sunken eyes.
- Loss of appetite.
- Sticky, dry gums.
Further reading: Why does my dog drink so much water at night?
The good news is… there’s a way to test dogs for dehydration.
You can check using any of these simple tests:
- Locate your Chi’s scruff (loose skin on the shoulder or back of the neck).
- Lift the skin and release. It should spring back when released.
- If the skin takes more than 2 seconds to spring back, it’s a sign of dehydration.
- Gently press on your Chi’s gums until the area turns white.
- When released, it should turn back to its normal color.
- If it takes longer, your Chi is dehydrated.
“But, what can I do to prevent dehydration?”
Aside from making sure they always have access to clean water, you can also do the following:
- Clean their water bowl and replace water daily.
- Place several bowls of water around the house.
- Make drinking fun by providing water fountains or automatic water bowls.
- Bring water bottles with you during walks or any outdoor activities with your Chi.
Important: If your Chi refuses to drink water for extended periods of time, check with your vet immediately.
#3: Your Chi is excited
How do you know if your Chi is excited?
I’m sure you’re thinking of the most obvious sign… A wagging tail.
You might not know this. But sticking their tongue out is also a sign of excitement.
Maybe they stick it out when they’re about to go for a walk. Or when they greet you when you come home from work.
This gives their face a vibrant, happy look.
In this case, there’s nothing to be worried about.
It’s pretty normal for them to stick their tongue when excited.
We know that Chihuahuas are such balls of energy. They enjoy playing and having fun.
Sometimes, they can even become too excited. And could make it hard for them to calm down.
Did you know that some Chis are prone to being hyper due to their high levels of energy?
Common factors that may cause this are the following:
- Pent up energy.
- Lack of simulation.
At times when your Chi seems unusually hyperactive, here’s what you can do:
- Provide them with an area to rest.
- Make their exercises more challenging.
- Occupy their mind with mental exercises.
Check out also: Why do Chihuahuas shake?
#4: Your Chi is feeling relaxed
Does your Chi stick their tongue out when you’re cuddling? Or when you’re giving them a belly rub?
Lucky you! This is a sign that your pup is at ease and comfortable with you.
So when they stick their tongue out, it could just be a sign that they feel relaxed.
Sometimes, they would even do it while sleeping. This is also a normal thing for dogs to do.
As their muscles relax while asleep, so do their jaws. Which makes their tongue peek out.
Either way, it’s your Chi’s way of showing contentment that they’re in a safe and cozy environment.
#5: They’re reacting to a new medication
There are cases when Chihuahuas stick out their tongue due to a new medication.
When a dog’s body adjusts to the medicine, it can sometimes have temporary side effects.
But this may also be a sign that your Chi is having a bad reaction to the prescribed drug.
So be attentive and immediately let your vet know when this happens.
According to AVMA, here are things you can do to keep your pet safe from medications:
- Always follow label directions.
- Keep medication bottles out of reach.
- Talk to your vet about signs or side effects to look out for.
- Contact your vet if you missed giving a dose or overdose.
- Ask questions to understand the medication being prescribed to your Chi.
- Always finish your Chi’s medication unless instructed otherwise by the vet.
#6: Hanging tongue syndrome
“I notice my Chi sticking out their tongue all the time. Should I be worried?”
If this is what you have in mind, then your Chi might have the Hanging tongue syndrome.
As the name suggests, there are cases when the tongue may not retreat back into the mouth.
And not being able to let the tongue rest back in the mouth could be painful to your Chi.
When this happens, the tongue can dry out and crack. In the long term, this could be problematic and cause health problems.
Just imagine not being able to pull your tongue back… You may have a hard time swallowing and eating.
This can also happen to your Chi. Keeping the tongue exposed could lead to the following:
- Risk of infections.
Some may also experience several symptoms that need immediate attention. So watch out for the following:
- Bad breath.
- Swollen tongue.
- Bleeding tongue.
- Changes in tongue color.
Note: Once you notice your Chi’s tongue hanging out all the time, it’s best to consult with a vet.
Fortunately, there are also things you can do to care for your Chi with this condition.
- Switch your Chi’s diet to softer foods.
- Encourage them to drink water regularly.
- Put a small amount of olive oil all over their tongue.
- Apply a few drops of water to their tongue throughout the day.
“But what causes the Hanging Tongue Syndrome?”
Chihuahuas and most toy dog breeds are prone to this condition. Which may be due to having a tongue that’s too large for their mouth.
In other cases, your pooch may also develop this as they age.
And it can also be caused by several issues which we’ll tackle more in detail below…
#7: Mouth injury
Have your Chi recently chewed on a stick? Or a hard chewing toy?
Have they also suddenly been sticking their tongue out?
If you’ve answered these with yes, then you might want to check for any signs of mouth injury.
Due to their small size, Chihuahuas have fragile mouths.
And if not mindful about what they chew, foreign objects can easily cause trauma in their mouths.
They might be sticking out their tongue to tell you there’s something lodged inside their mouth.
Mouth injuries can sometimes be hard to detect. You won’t realize it until your Chi starts to behave differently.
That’s why it’s good to be watchful of the following signs:
- Drooling excessively.
- Clawing at the mouth.
- Crying when chewing.
- Refusing to eat or drink.
- Swelling of lips or tongue.
If you notice any of the signs, make sure to gently examine their mouth.
Cleaning the area and removing any pieces of splinters can also be helpful.
It’s also advisable to check with your vet for further examination.
On another note, did you know that there are risks in letting your Chi chew on sticks?
I know this might be hard to be taken seriously since dogs love sticks so much.
But it can have serious consequences on your pooch. Especially to small breeds like Chihuahuas.
Some potential dangers include:
- Teeth damage.
- Mouth abscesses.
- Stomach irritation.
- Soft tissue damage.
- Splinters in the throat.
- Gastrointestinal obstruction.
If you still don’t believe in the dangers of sticks… Let me enlighten you with a story…
It was just another day of fetch for this pet parent and his Chi.
The pet parent would always use a stick for the pooch to catch.
Unfortunately, the stick punctured the Chihuahua’s mouth.
At first, the pet parent didn’t know there was something wrong until his pooch stopped eating.
Once the Chi was brought to the vet, they had to remove pieces of the stick from the mouth.
On a brighter note, the Chi survived. But this is an unfortunate reminder that using sticks can be harmful to your Chi.
In fact, AKC shares that most people would bring their dogs to the emergency clinic because of the same reason.
These pet parents were innocently playing with their dogs. Not knowing that a stick could impale them.
“But my Chi loves to chew sticks, is there any alternative I can use?”
If this is something you’re concerned about, I have good news.
There are safer and less expensive alternatives such as the following:
- Bully sticks.
- Edible dental chews.
- Ears (beef, pig, lamb).
#8: Dental problems
Compared to other dogs, Chihuahuas are more likely to have problems with their teeth.
Dental problems often start with tartar build-up. And then leads to infections of the gums and teeth.
If this is not prevented, your Chi might lose their teeth. Which could cause them to hang their tongue out.
PetsMD says that dogs rarely show signs of dental pain. However, certain symptoms will show when the dental problem becomes worse.
- Bad breath.
- Loose teeth.
- Weight loss.
- Visible tartar.
- Difficulty eating.
- Discolored teeth.
- Nasal discharge.
- Bleeding or swollen gums.
When it comes to dental problems, prevention is key. As long as your Chi’s teeth are regularly cleaned, the gums will stay healthy.
In fact, MSD says that gum disease is the most common dental problem in small dogs.
This is why having healthy dental hygiene is especially important for your Chi.
Other ways you can help to prevent dental problems are the following:
- Brush their teeth regularly.
- Feed them quality dog food.
- Avoid hard bones as chew toys.
- Provide suitable toys and treats for daily chewing.
- Take your Chi for annual oral exams and cleanings.
#9: Mouth deformities
Mouth deformities could cause your Chi to stick their tongue out. This includes underbite, overbite, and long tongues.
Did you know that it’s common for Chihuahuas to have underbites?
This is a condition when the bottom teeth are extended outward farther than the upper front teeth.
Fortunately, most Chis who have underbite don’t necessarily require any treatment.
This is as long as it’s not causing any damage to your pup’s mouth.
When the underbite becomes problematic, treatment might be needed.
On the other hand, overbites are rare in Chihuahuas. This is more common in dog breeds with narrow and pointed muzzles.
It’s a condition where the lower jaw is significantly shorter than the upper jaw.
An overbite can be problematic as it can make it hard for your Chi to pick up food.
It may also give them a hard time chewing food. When this happens, the best thing to do is check with your vet for advice.
If your Chi has a long tongue, it’s more likely for them to let it hang.
This is because it could be difficult to keep their tongue inside their tiny mouths.
Fun fact: The world record for the longest tongue in a dog is 17 in (43 cm). It belongs to a Boxer breed named Brandy.
A long tongue isn’t harmful but may develop into Hanging Tongue Syndrome.
As previously mentioned, we should always be attentive to warning signs.
And consulting a vet is important in managing this condition.
If you don’t believe that there are Chihuahuas who have long tongues, check out this video below:
#10: Neurological problems
Sadly, several neurological problems can affect Chihuahuas.
Which could be the reason they’re letting their tongue stick out.
I know how scary this sounds.
But it can happen, and as a responsible paw parent, it’s critical to notice early warning signs such as:
- Mobility issues.
- Balance issues
- Neck or back pain.
- Abnormal eye movements.
Warning: If your Chi shows one or more of these warning signs, contact your vet as soon as possible!
It’s also worth noting the following causes of neurological disorders.
Knowing what caused it will help your vet in developing an effective treatment plan.
According to ANIC, here are possible causes:
- Congenital conditions.
- Inherited susceptibility.
- Autoimmune disorders.
- Underlying systemic disease.
You may also wonder: 11 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Walls + How To Stop It
#11: Oral cancer
I know what you’re thinking. This is a terrible reason for your Chi to stick their tongue out.
But there are cases when tumors could grow in their mouth.
And as of the moment, there’s no specific cause for oral cancer in dogs.
Little-known fact: A study found that the gums are the most affected part of a dog’s mouth with oral cancer.
The most helpful thing we can do is to detect early signs. So watch out for a combination of the following:
- Bad breath.
- Mouth pain.
- Loose teeth.
- Weight loss.
- Excessive drooling.
- Visible mass in the mouth.
- Swollen areas of the face.
- Difficulty chewing or drinking.
- Large lymph nodes in the neck.
Cancer in dogs can feel disheartening. But there’s still good news.
According to PetMD, if a tumor is caught early, surgery may be curative.
#12: Old age
Do you have a senior Chi? If so, the reason they could be sticking their tongue out is due to old age.
According to one pet parent, her 13-year old Chi has been recently hanging their tongue out.
When she asked if this was normal, most agreed that it was indeed common to older Chis.
If you’ve been with a senior dog for a while, you’ll probably know how fulfilling it feels.
And it even feels more rewarding when caring for a senior Chihuahua. This is because they need extra care.
As Chihuahuas grow older, the more brittle their bodies become. And that makes them susceptible to disease and injuries.
Here are a few tips you can do to take care of your senior Chi:
- Increase visits to the vet.
- Provide them with an appropriate diet.
- Keep them mentally and physically active.
- Take extra caution in handling their bodies.
- Ensure that their dental problems are addressed.
#13: They’re tasting the air
This is probably one of the weirdest reasons your Chi is letting their tongue out.
They’re simply tasting the air! Your first thought might be… “Huh?”
But yes, dogs can literally taste the air. They can even do this without sticking their tongue out.
Do you notice them flicking their tongue in and out for no reason?
They might just be doing this to take in a particularly strong smell.
If you’re wondering how they can do that. They’re able to detect the taste of air thanks to Jacobson’s organ.
“What’s a Jacobson’s organ?”
A study mentions that it’s an olfactory sense organ. It’s also necessary for the detection of pheromones.
When your dog’s nose comes into contact with certain smells, they may put their tongue out to take in more of that scent.
According to PetsMD, there may also be other reasons your Chi is doing this.
The following are the possible reasons:
- Skin issue.
- Stressed out.
- Gastrointestinal disorder.
- A foreign object is stuck in their mouth.