Getting to the bottom of tongue injuries in dogs
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Getting to the bottom of tongue injuries in dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Dogs are animals that tend to act first and think later, and it is certainly fair to say that dogs as a whole are fairly good at injuring themselves in all manner of weird and wonderful ways. Tongue injuries are one example of this – and there are a great number of ways in which dogs can manage to hurt their own tongues, surprisingly enough!

Because damage to your dog’s tongue might not be immediately obvious to us as the dog’s owner, it is first of all important to understand that this type of injury is actually fairly common, and to know how to spot that something is amiss in your dog’s mouth.

In this article, we will share advice on how to identify a tongue injury in your dog, and run through some of the most common causes of such injuries occurring. Read on to learn more.

Biting the tongue

Few of us are lucky enough to have reached adulthood without experiencing the pain that comes from biting our own tongues, and however long ago the last time you managed to do this was, you can probably still recall the pain and discomfort very well.

Dogs can also bite their own tongues, and given that the dog’s tongue is both larger and more mobile than our own, this is a fairly common occurrence. Most of the time you probably won’t even know if your dog has bitten their tongue, as this will usually clear up quickly on its own.

However, the tongue is a large organ served with lots of capillaries and blood vessels, and may bleed a lot if your dog manages to break the skin, and a nip to the tongue may also cause swelling and discomfort and make it harder for your dog to eat for a while, and you may want to ask your vet to check out the wound and monitor for signs of infection.

Injuries during play

Pretty much everyone who ever owned a dog will know the heart-stopping feeling of watching their dog playing happily with others only to hear a sudden yelp and see one of the dogs retreating because things went a little too far – and because canine play and communication tends to involve a lot of close contact and mouthing, it is possible that another dog may nip your dog’s tongue by accident, or that they might nick their tongue on a sharp collar tag or something else.

Again, such injuries are normally minor, but if your dog’s tongue bleeds heavily, has a puncture in it or is split or torn, this may not resolve itself – and of course, comes with the added risk of infection. Get your vet to check your dog out if you have any concerns.

Scald injuries

Burning or scalding one’s tongue is an unpleasant sensation that can remain painful for a couple of days, and dogs are usually very keen on the “eat first, regret later” school of thought when it comes to scavenging and begging.

If you drop a piece of hot food from a pan and your dog wolfs it down or it your dog otherwise ends up eating a food or liquid that is very hot, they may burn the inside of their mouth and/or tongue, which is likely to lead to some distress and indications that something isn’t right in their mouth. As with humans, this will usually resolve itself within a couple of days – although whether or not your dog will learn their lesson is another thing!

Licking sharp or rough objects

Dogs explore the world with their mouths, and will often lick things to get a feel for them, or because they smell or taste interesting. Of course, licking something sharp, jagged or very abrasive will potentially cause an injury to your dog’s tongue, such as a graze or cut. Minor injuries will again usually correct themselves in a day or so, but if you are in any doubt, take them to the vet.

Stings and bites

Flying bugs and insects like bees, horse flies and flying ants are very annoying to both dogs and people, but dogs are of course highly likely to snap at such irritating insects, who don’t usually respond well to such treatment! If your dog snaps at a biting or stinging insect like a bee, they run a high risk of being bitten or stung – and if the bug in question stings your dog’s tongue, they are apt to make quite a fuss because it is likely to be fairly painful.

Keep a close eye on the injury to make sure that it is does not become more serious, and if you have concerns or if your dog reacts very badly, speak to your vet.

Allergic reactions

A small number of dogs will suffer from a very acute allergic reaction to a bite or sting, which can lead to localised swelling, systemic symptoms and potentially, breathing difficulties. If the bite or sting occurs on your dog’s tongue and your dog is allergic to it, their tongue may swell up and occlude the airways, which is a veterinary emergency.

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