Dogs are rather cute when they sleep. The way they lay there. The twitches. The sounds. Adorable.
One thing you may have noticed them do is stick their tongue out. Just the tip.
Not the whole thing, but the end.
Why do they do this? Is it something to be concerned about? Well, today, you are going to find out.
So, why does my dog stick the tip of his tongue out while sleeping? Dogs will often stick the tip of their tongue out while sleeping due to relaxation (and their muscles relaxing) or as a means to cool down. It can also occur if they’re dehydrated or even as a result of dreaming.
There’s not one individual or standalone cause.
Which is why it’s essential to become familiar with all of them.
From there, you may be able to understand the cause of your dog.
So let’s keep going!
Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out While Sleeping?
Muscles Relaxing During Sleep
First off, the typical reason for this particular display is simple physiology.
You see, when dogs sleep, their muscles relax, and this relaxation extends to the muscles in their mouths too.
This often results in their tongues slipping out of their mouths, and it’s completely normal – something akin to our human tendency to snore when we’re in a deep sleep.
A Quirk of The Breed
If you own a breed with a shorter snout, like Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, or Pugs, you might find that your dog does this more often.
This is due to their brachycephalic nature.
Their shorter noses and flatter faces can cause them to stick their tongues out while they sleep.
To Cool Down
Our dogs use panting as a way to regulate their body temperature, and this can sometimes carry on into their sleep.
This means you might see their tongues moving in and out as they continue their cooling down process, even when snoozing.
As They Are Dehydrated
If your dog isn’t getting enough water, they might stick their tongue out in an attempt to cool down or because their mouth is dry.
This is often more likely toward the end of a sleep cycle when a dog has spent even longer since their last drink.
Be sure to check their water bowl regularly and ensure they’re drinking enough, especially in warmer weather.
As A Result Of Dreaming
I can’t help but wonder what my dog dreams about.
Running through fields?
Whatever it is, these dreams can sometimes cause them to mimic the behaviors they would exhibit while awake, including sticking their tongues out.
So, perhaps your dog’s tongue movement during sleep could be a sign of an exciting dream!
When To Worry About A Dog Sticking Their Tongue Out While Sleeping
While this behavior is usually nothing to worry about, there are a few situations where you may need to consider consulting a vet.
It’s A Recent Change
Sometimes, it might just be a new quirk your dog has picked up.
Dogs, like humans, change and evolve over time, and they can develop new behaviors as they grow older.
However, it could also potentially be a symptom of an underlying health issue.
For instance, neurological disorders, dental diseases, or even certain types of trauma can cause a dog to stick their tongue out more than usual.
These conditions might be causing your dog discomfort or pain, which they may not be able to communicate directly.
In such cases, the sudden change in sleep behavior becomes a non-verbal cue for us owners to pick up on.
It’s important to observe if there are any other accompanying signs, such as changes in eating habits, lethargy, abnormal behaviors, or physical symptoms like weight loss.
If you notice this new behavior, and especially if it’s coupled with other changes, I’d recommend scheduling a check-up with your vet.
They can do a thorough examination and run any necessary tests to rule out potential health problems.
They Are On Medication
Medications, especially those for conditions such as allergies, pain management, or thyroid issues, can sometimes cause changes in your dog’s regular behavior.
Excessive panting or increased salivation are common side effects of certain drugs, leading your dog to stick their tongue out more often.
Medications can also cause dry mouth in dogs, which might result in your dog sticking their tongue out to maintain moisture.
While these side effects are generally not harmful, it’s important to monitor your dog for any distress or discomfort.
If the panting seems excessive or if your dog appears restless, or if there are other behavioral or physical changes, it could be a sign that the medication dosage needs adjustment or that the medication is not suiting your dog.
Always remember, your vet is your best resource for understanding how a medication might impact your dog’s behavior and wellbeing.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to them with any concerns you might have.
They Are Showing Other Signs Of Dental Injury/Oral Issues
If your dog has a dental injury, an abscess, or gum disease, sticking out the tongue can be a sign of discomfort or pain.
They might be trying to avoid putting pressure on a sore tooth or area of their mouth.
Watch out for other signs of oral issues along with their tongue sticking out.
These could include bad breath, reluctance to eat or drink, tough foods, pawing at the mouth, or visible signs of discomfort like swollen, red, or bleeding gums.
It’s important to inspect your dog’s mouth regularly for any abnormalities, mainly if they are sticking their tongue out more than usual.
Oral issues can escalate quickly, leading to more severe health problems if left untreated.
Just remember that preventative care, such as regular teeth brushing and dental check-ups, can help avoid many of these issues.
Ultimately, there are several reasons why your dogs might be stiking the tip of their tongue out while they sleep.
Or it could be a combination of multiple, altogether.
Most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about – especially in the context of muscle relaxation during sleep or for some breeds.
In those instances, there’s no need to worry.
However, that isn’t always the case.
Thus, you must remain attentive to your dogs behaviors particularly when there are changes or if there are other signs of potential health issues.
Related guides you may want to read:
- Why Does My Dog Stick The Tip Of His Tongue Out When I Pet Him?
- Why Does My Dog Stick His Tongue In And Out Like A Snake?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.