Why Is My Dogs Tongue White?

If you have ever noticed that your dog’s tongue is white, it could be a sign that something is wrong with their health.

While a white tongue may seem alarming at first sight, there are many reasons why this occurs.

For example, if your dog has a bacterial infection, the tongue will turn white because of the bacteria.

This is especially true if your dog is also displaying any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea

Causes of a White Tongue in Dogs

There are several causes of a white tongue in dogs including dehydration and bacterial infections.

Other common causes include an allergy or irritation from food, medication, environmental pollutants, or a foreign object stuck in the dog’s mouth.

Regardless, if your dog’s tongue is white, it is important to see the vet immediately.

The following are some of the most common causes of a white tongue in dogs.

1. Dehydration

The most likely cause of a white tongue in dogs is dehydration.

While this condition often goes unnoticed by pet owners, a dog’s ability to maintain proper hydration depends on how much water they consume throughout the day.

In addition, dogs that do not receive enough fluids during exercise can experience heatstroke.

Heatstroke is a potentially fatal medical emergency that can occur when your dog’s body overheats due to inadequate fluid intake.

Therefore, if your dog’s tongue is white, it is very important that you have them drink plenty of water.

2. Bacterial Infection

Another possible explanation for a white tongue in dogs is a bacterial infection.

Bacteria usually enter your dog’s body through open wounds or cuts.

However, certain types of bacteria can spread through the air without being caught.

One of these types of bacteria is Pasteurella multocida.

This type of bacteria lives naturally on the skin of mammals and can easily infect dogs.

If your dog’s tongue is white, it is very important to contact your veterinarian because this type of infection can quickly become life threatening.

Fortunately, pasteurellosis is treatable.

3. Allergies

A third possibility for a white tongue in dogs is an allergic reaction.

Similar to allergies, irritants can lead to swelling around the mouth area which makes it difficult for your dog to eat.

In fact, this condition is known as salivary gland hypertrophy (also called “swollen parotid glands”).

To help prevent this condition from occurring, it is recommended that you keep your dog away from foods that contain strong smells like garlic, onions, and chocolate.

It is also important to make sure that your dog does not chew on their own fur.

Fur chewing can create lumps under the skin which can eventually cause abscesses in the mouth.

4. Foreign Object

Finally, it is possible that your dog swallowed a foreign object.

These objects can come into contact with the tongue causing it to turn white.

You should never force your dog to swallow something that is not meant to go down their throat.

Instead, take the time to look for anything that might be lodged in your dog’s mouth.

When to See the Vet

A white tongue is not necessarily an emergency situation, but it could be a symptom of more severe problems.

A vet should always be contacted when a dog displays any signs of illness.

The most common condition that causes a white tongue in dogs is dehydration.

Dehydration can occur in several ways, including:

  • Excessive drinking or urinating
  • Poor access to water
  • Frequent trips outside without sufficient time to drink
  • Not allowing enough time for your dog to eat before going out
  • Inadequate hydration during exercise

If you notice that your dog’s tongue is white, contact your vet immediately.

The sooner you get them into the care of a professional, the better chance they have of recovering from their condition.

Another possible cause of a white tongue is a bacterial infection.

Bacteria can enter through cuts on the mouth or nose, so it is important to keep your dog clean by brushing their teeth regularly and keeping them away from areas where they might pick up germs.

It is also very important to clean your dog’s ears regularly with a cotton ball soaked in warm water.

Keep track of how often you do these things and make sure that you follow them closely.

If you need help with cleaning your dog’s ears, try asking a friend or family member for assistance.

Finally, if your dog’s tongue turns white after eating, this could indicate that they ate something poisonous.

Contact your vet right away to find out what caused the problem.

If you think that your dog is suffering from dehydration, call your vet immediately.

They can give your dog fluids and medications that will help them recover quickly.

Treating a Dog’s White Tongue

If your dog’s tongue is white, then it is important to get them to the vet right away so that they can evaluate what is going on in their body.

A veterinarian can perform several tests to determine whether or not your dog has an underlying illness.

When looking at a white tongue, a veterinarian will usually do one of two things:

1. Biopsy

This involves taking a small sample from the white part of the tongue and examining it under a microscope.

The results of this test will help to identify whether or not your dog has a bacterial infection.

2. Culture

This is similar to a biopsy but does not require surgery.

Instead, a swab is taken from the white part of the tongue and placed into culture medium.

These cultures are examined to see which bacteria are present.

Another test that veterinarians use to check for a bacterial infection is called a Gram stain.

This test involves placing a small amount of bacteria onto a slide and examining it under a microscope.

If the bacteria appear red, then it indicates that the bacteria are gram-positive.

If the bacteria appear blue then they are gram-negative.

If both types of bacteria appear, then the bacteria are gram-variable.

Once the veterinarian knows what type of bacteria is causing the problem, they can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

Some of the most common infections that cause a white tongue include:

  • Bacterial Infection – This can occur when your dog ingests something contaminated by bacteria.
  • Fungal Infection – This can occur when your dog ingests something contaminated by fungi.
  • Parasitic Infection – This can occur when your dog ingests something contaminated by parasites.

How to Treat a White Tongue

There are several different ways that you can treat your dog’s white tongue.

The first thing that you should do is contact your veterinarian immediately.

They will be able to tell you more about how to treat the white tongue so that you don’t end up making a mistake.

Keeping Your Dog’s Tongue Healthy

So what causes a dog’s tongue to become white?

The most common reason is dehydration.

When a dog is dehydrated, their tongue will often become white or yellowish-white in color.

They may appear to be drinking water but never feel full after eating.

In fact, once a dog begins to drink too much water, their tongue will eventually start to look like a sponge when wet.

Another common cause of a white tongue is an actual bacterial infection.

While these infections are relatively rare, they are easily treatable if caught early on.

A white tongue is one of the first signs of an infection.

It is important to keep your dog hydrated by offering them water frequently throughout the day.

By doing so, they will not only feel more comfortable, but they will also be less likely to develop a bacterial infection.

If you suspect that your dog has a bacterial infection, it is best to take them to a veterinarian immediately.

There are many different types of bacterial infections that can affect your dog’s body.

Some examples include:

  • Anaerobic Bacteria Infection
  • Oral Bacterial Infection
  • Gram Negative Bacteria Infection
  • Gram Positive Bacteria Infection
  • Fungal Bacteria Infection
  • Salmonella Infection

Possible Complications of a White Tongue in Dogs

A white tongue can indicate dehydration or even an illness.

It is important to get your dog checked out by a veterinarian right away if you notice these symptoms.

A dog who is suffering from dehydration may not be able to breathe normally, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).

The RDS affects the lower parts of the lungs and can lead to death if left untreated.

Another possible complication that can occur when a dog’s tongue turns white is a fungal infection known as candidiasis.

This type of infection causes the body to produce too much acid that can eat away at the tissues on the tongue and mouth.

It is important to note that not all cases of a white tongue mean that your dog has a bacterial infection.

In fact, it is likely that your dog has a viral infection that is causing the white tongue rather than a bacterial one.

However, if your dog does have a bacterial infection, then they should see a vet immediately.

The good news is that most cases of a white tongue do not require immediate medical attention.

However, it is still essential to consult a vet if your dog’s tongue turns white.

There are several ways to treat a white tongue, including medication and oral hygiene products.

You should speak to your vet about treating your dog’s tongue before taking matters into your own hands.

Treatment Options for a White Tongue

There are several ways to treat a white tongue.

If you suspect that your dog has a bacterial infection, your vet may recommend antibiotic treatment.

Some antibiotics that work well against bacterial infections that can affect your dog’s tongue include amoxicillin, erythromycin, penicillin, and tetracycline.

Your vet may also prescribe an antifungal cream for your dog to use on their tongue.

These creams contain ingredients like clotrimazole, miconazole, and nystatin.

They can help prevent infections caused by fungi that grow on the skin around the mouth.

If your dog has a viral infection, your vet may recommend using an over-the-counter product to clean their teeth.

Many over-the-counter toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which helps break down plaque and remove stains on the tongue.

Over-the-counter mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine gluconate can also help fight off viruses.

FAQs About a Dog’s White Tongue

Some owners think that their dog’s tongue is white because they are thirsty or because they ate something bad, but these are not the only causes of a white tongue.

The most common reason a dog’s tongue turns white is dehydration.

Dehydration can occur when your dog doesn’t drink enough water.

When a dog’s body lacks enough water, the tongue becomes pale and dry, which makes it look white.

In some cases, a dog’s tongue can become white even though they are drinking plenty of water.

In these situations, the tongue can become white because of an underlying medical condition.

It’s important to note that this type of white tongue isn’t always caused by dehydration.

The next section discusses other possible causes of a white tongue.

It’s also important to remember that a white tongue can sometimes just be a temporary condition.

A white tongue can last from a few hours to a couple weeks, depending on the severity of the condition.

As long as a dog’s tongue returns to normal after a few days, it’s likely that the white tongue isn’t dangerous or life-threatening.

1. What Causes a Dog’s Tongue to Turn White?

There are several reasons why a dog’s tongue might turn white.

One of the most common reasons is dehydration.

If your dog doesn’t drink enough water, the tongue will start to turn white.

This happens because the tongue absorbs water from the mouth while it’s moving through the air.

If a dog’s body lacks sufficient water, the tongue won’t absorb enough water, so it starts to dry out.

Another common reason that a dog’s tongue can turn white is that the tongue contains a lot of mucous that provides a protective barrier against harmful bacteria.

If the mucous layer gets too thin, it can make the tongue vulnerable to infection.

If a dog’s body begins to produce more mucous than usual, it can lead to a white tongue.

A dog’s tongue can also turn white if they eat something poisonous or toxic.

Some plants, including poison ivy, contain chemicals that irritate the skin and cause inflammation.

These chemicals can enter the mouth and travel up the esophagus into the throat, where they eventually reach the stomach.

Once there, the chemicals can damage the lining of the stomach and intestines.

Because of the resulting inflammation, the dog’s tongue can begin to turn white.

Other types of toxins can also affect the dog’s tongue.

If a dog ingests a chemical called dioxin, it can affect their liver, kidneys, and spleen.

Dioxins can then pass through the digestive tract and into the bloodstream, causing a number of adverse effects on the dog’s internal organs.

These include damage to the liver, kidney, lungs, heart, and reproductive system.

2. How Long Does a White Tongue Last?

A white tongue can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks.

The duration of the condition depends on how severe the problem is.

If the tongue is extremely dry, it can take longer for it to return to its regular color.

As long as a dog’s tongue returns to its normal color within a few days, it’s unlikely that the condition is dangerous or life-threatening.

However, if the tongue continues to remain white for more than a few days, it’s worth taking your dog to the vet to get checked out.

Are There Any Symptoms That Can Help You Identify a White Tongue?

If you notice that your dog’s tongue is white, it’s best to contact your veterinarian right away.

While a white tongue is usually harmless, it can be a symptom of a serious illness such as a
bacterial infection.

Your dog’s doctor will be able to determine whether the condition is dangerous or not based on the
symptoms that are present.

Here are some signs that a dog’s tongue might be turning white:

Your dog is coughing

They are having difficulty breathing

They vomit frequently

They appear weak or lethargic

Their temperature is elevated

Their eyes are sunken in

Their gums are swollen and red

Megan Turner
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