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Why does my dog have a blue tongue? How do I react?

Some dogs have naturally blue tongue because of an important pigmentation of the mucous membranes. It is the case of the Chow-Chow, of certain Shar-Peï and of dogs resulting from crossings. In these animals, this phenomenon is of genetic origin. On the other hand, in the other cases, this coloring of the tongue is not normal. This symptom is very worrying and requires a consultation with the veterinarian, sometimes even a call to the emergency room. The blue tongue in dogs can make suspect a serious health problem. Explanations.

Blue tongue in dogs: the causes

When a dog's tongue starts to turn blue, it is usually because the blood is poorly oxygenated. This can be due to a dysfunction of the respiratory system or to a heart problem.

When the mucous membranes turn purplish blue, it can be the tongue but also the lips and the palate of the animal. If it is a cyanosis of the dog, it is a vital emergency because its blood is not sufficiently oxygenated, and the more it lacks oxygen the more the mucous membranes are blue.

Cyanosis is peripheral when small vessels do not oxygenate the animal's paws properly. When it is cold, they become icy and bluish. Central cyanosis is when the organs affected by the lack of blood oxygenation are the heart and/or the lungs. A blue tongue is a sign of this.

It can also happen that the blue coloring of the tongue appears within a few minutes. This may be due to respiratory distress caused by:
  • Obstruction of the trachea by an object or food,
  • Strangulation (e.g., a too-tight collar),
  • Stale ambient air or air not adapted to the animal.
You must adopt the right attitude without wasting time and keep your cool.

Blue tongue in dogs: actions that can save the animal

In the event of a sudden blue tongue in a dog, the owner must first call an emergency veterinary service and then try to identify the cause of this symptom if it occurs within a few minutes. It is imperative to:
  • Remove the collar,
  • Carry the dog out to a breathable environment,
  • Keep the dog in a lateral safety position, i.e., the dog must be lying on its side,
  • Open the dog's mouth to see if anything is stuck and preventing it from breathing,
  • Do not give him anything to drink.
Do not give the dog water. Respiratory distress is life-threatening. It is preferable to have the emergency service come to your home. If this is not possible, the owner must transport the dog to the nearest veterinary clinic or office, making sure that the animal does not get up. The dog should remain in the side-lying position.

Apart from imminent emergency situations, if the dog's tongue is blue and its health seems to have deteriorated in the last few days, it is imperative to consult the veterinarian without delay.

In the event of discoloration of the tongue and more generally of the mucous membranes of the dog, the owner should not postpone taking care of his little companion. If no care is taken, the dog is doomed to certain death if it is the victim of a respiratory problem of any origin whatsoever.