If you've spent considerable time on the internet, you might have come across this funny little word: blep. Though the term sounds more like an onomatopoeia (like "pop"), rest assured, this IS an animal phenomena that you can see rather than hear.
What is a Blep?
Even if you've never heard the word blep, we're fairly certain that you're aware of a recent trend on the internet of sharing pictures of pets with their tongues hanging out of their mouths—either slightly or entirely on full display. This unleashing of a pet's tongue is a blep! Now, some blep fanatics insist that only cats can blep. We like to be a little more inclusive. In our estimation, a blep can be achieved by all pets. Well, all pets with tongues that is!
Why Does a Pet Blep?
For some pets, blepping is normal. For other pets, it isn't. Knowing the typical, at-rest state of your pet's tongue is the key to identifying whether or not a blep is normal or calls for medical attention. Bleps can occur for many different reasons. Sometimes, a pet's tongue is just too big for their mouth and their tongue pops out just a bit to give their tongue enough room to be comfortable. In other cases, a pet might have had damage to their jaw, teeth, or face in a way that makes their mouth unable to support their tongue staying put and so their tongue just naturally slides out.
Hanging Tongue Syndrome
In dogs, a blep might actually be a case of Hanging Tongue Syndrome. If your dog is suffering from Hanging Tongue Syndrome, their tongue can become cracked, dry, and painful, similar to chapped lips. Although Hanging Tongue Syndrome might not be life threatening by itself, it calls for a visit to the vet to determine if it's a sign of something more serious.
Next time you see a pet sticking it's tongue out at you, you'll know what to call it! But it's not always a pet trying to show you how cute he or she is, some pets with bleps could be sick or injured. Keeping an eye on your pet's tongue is a great way to keep tabs on their health.
By Sara Stuart
About the Author
Sara Stuart is a lifelong animal lover with a passion for rescue pets. Sara lives in Los Angeles, California with her family, including the head of her house–an adopted corgi mix, Buddy Cruiser.