Your dog relies on his tongue to eat, drink, clean himself and shed excess heat on a hot summer day. Injuries to this long muscle can be painful and debilitating for your pup. Signs of tongue trauma aren't always obvious, so owners should check their pet's mouth for signs of health issues at least once a week.
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Punctures and Laceration
When it comes to eating strange plants and fighting with other animals, your dog's tongue is on the front line. The teeth of an unfriendly canine can easily pierce your dog's tongue during a confrontation, and your pet could easily bite himself by accident. Your pup can also do some serious damage to his tongue by mouthing sharp plant stems and seeds with spines or burrs. Open injuries in the mouth can become infected, especially bite wounds from other animals.
Modern homes are filled with electrical appliances, heat sources and toxic chemicals that can scald your dog's tongue. While some burns cause only minor damage, serious injury can leave permanent deformities in the muscle, according to the Merck Manual for Pet Health. Burns from electrical cords may leave scars or even destroy some of your pup's gum tissue or teeth. Your pet can also scorch his tongue by licking a grill, oven or other hot surface, killing the upper layers of his skin in the process. Corrosive chemicals, like drain cleaners and bleach, destroy the lining of your dog's mouth cavity, tongue and throat after ingestion.
Even a minor tongue injury can have big consequences if contagious bacteria or viruses colonize the wound. Inflammation of the tongue can result from physical trauma, burns and any other kind of injury. Dental infections of the teeth and gums can also spread to the tongue muscle if left untreated. Stings from bees, porcupines and other poisonous creatures may lead to sudden inflammation and swelling. Allergic reactions to toxins can close your dog's throat in a matter of minutes, so seek medical attention immediately. Synthetic string, plant matter and foreign objects can get stuck deep beneath your dog's tongue, causing pain and discoloration across the entire muscle.
Signs of Injury
Tongue injuries are common in puppies and adult dogs alike. It's tough for owners to figure out how serious the problem is based on symptoms alone, so it's important to seek medical attention when you spot signs of oral distress in your pet. Dogs with damaged tongues tend to avoid the food and water bowls, so they may become dehydrated or malnourished. Tongue wounds and inflammation may also give your dog particularly bad breath or make him drool uncontrollably. He may also paw at the side of his face persistently or whimper when he tries to groom himself or eat.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.