Why Your Dog’s Tongue is White & What to Do About it

A dog with a white tongue is definitely a warning sign that something is wrong. When this happens, you should take it seriously because it could be an indicator of an infection or possible injury. Here are some of the most common reasons that your dog may have a white tongue and why it’s such an important warning sign.

1. Your Dog May Have Anemia

Anemia in dogs is a very serious issue and it could lead to life-threatening situations if you don’t get this treated quickly. Anemia has a number of causes associated with it with the most common being trauma, a gastrointestinal bleed, immune-system disorder, tick-borne diseases, infectious diseases, and cancer.

A dog that has anemia will display many different symptoms including having a white tongue and pale gums. Most dogs will have pink gums, but if the dog is anemic these gums will look very pale or a pinkish-white color. Beyond that, anemia is also going to cause your dog to be more lethargic than normal.

He may not be running around playing like normal and he might be sleeping a lot more. There are several other indicators of anemia, such as finding blood in the urine, stool, or in the vomit. You may not notice too much at first, but there will be enough blood that you will be able to see it with your own eyes.

2. Your Dog Has an Infection or Injury

An infection or injury could cause the tongue to appear white as well, and the tongue is often the first place you’ll notice injury or infection. Anemia, shock, severe allergic reactions, and many other types of situations will cause the tongue to turn white.

If there is an infection or injury to the lungs or heart, the tongue is the first location where signs of these situations will happen. Any injury that concerns the circulatory system or the respiratory system will cause the tongue to turn a white color.

3. White Pale Tongue May Indicate Shock

As briefly mentioned above, shock could be the cause of the white tongue. A white tongue can happen due to shock because shock will lower the blood pressure. Respiration and heart issues related to shock can occur for a number of reasons. One issue that can happen is septic shock, which could be the result of a chronic or acute bacterial infection.

Recurring bacterial infections also could cause shock and one of the main bacterial infections include endocarditis. Endocarditis is when there’s inflammation of the lining of the heart and this is a very serious medical situation.

Urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and infections from surgery are common conditions that affect dogs. Other issues include diabetes, cancer, gastrointestinal tract issues, and adrenal disease.

Other Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs

There are several different symptoms that you will notice if your dog is anemic. The first thing you will notice is that the gums will be pale and the tongue often will be pale or white as well. Dogs with anemia also are going to have a much lower energy level. They may not be playing nearly as often as before and will be sleeping more than anything else.

Your dog also might get tired much easier too, and often will have labored breathing as a result. A quicker heart rate and loss of appetite are symptoms you may notice, especially as the anemia progresses. Due to the lack of appetite, your dog also will begin to lose weight. Lastly, blood might be present in the vomit, urine, or stool and this is often times noticeable to the naked eye.

Stories from Dog Owners

Here are some stories shared with us by other dog owners who went through the same concerning experience of seeing their dog’s tongue turn white.

Story #1 – White Bump on Dog’s Tongue

My dog has a white bump on her tongue and it has been there for about two months. It doesn’t seem to hurt her or bother her that much. She eats, drinks water, and uses the bathroom as she normally would. She also isn’t lethargic or anything. I haven’t had a chance to take her to the vet yet. Anyone experienced something similar with their pets?

Story #2 – Tongue Too Pale?

Not sure if this is worth further investigation but my dog’s tongue seems a bit more pale than normal. I am not too sure about his gums but there is definitely a change in color with his tongue. My dog also seems to pant a bit more than usual after going for his usual walks.

Story #3 – White Lumps Under Tongue

Took my dog for a walk today and noticed there was a bump underneath his tongue (similar to a canker sore). I am wondering if this is some kind of splinter that got infected or if the white bump was caused by a bug. We will be taking him to the vet but wanted to check if someone had similar experiences.

Book an online vet appointment if your dog has an emergency but your local vet isn't available. Vetster is available 24/7 for video chat appointments.

Disclaimer: The content on MyPetChild.com is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian when in doubt.

Leave a Reply