Many dog owners have noticed that their pet’s tongue is a deep purple color. This can be alarming and confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the reason behind it. In this blog post, we will explore the possible causes of purple tongues in dogs and how to treat them.
Why Is My Dog’s Tongue Purple?
The most acute reason for a purple tongue is cyanosis. Cyanosis is when the body is not receiving enough oxygen and the skin and mucous membranes take on a bluish tint. This happens when there is something blocking the airway or preventing oxygen from being properly absorbed into the bloodstream.
What Are the Causes of Cyanosis in Dogs?
There are many possible causes of cyanosis in dogs, including:
A Foreign Body Obstructing the Airway
If your dog has something lodged in its throat or airway, it will prevent oxygen from reaching its lungs. This can cause cyanosis and is a life-threatening emergency.
Anemia is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. This can be caused by blood loss, bone marrow disease, or other underlying health conditions.
Any condition that affects the lungs can cause cyanosis. This includes pneumonia, lung cancer, and heartworm disease.
Blood Clotting Disorders
If your dog has a disorder that prevents its blood from clotting properly, it can cause cyanosis. This is because the blood is not able to circulate properly and oxygen cannot be delivered to the tissues.
There are many different types of heart disease that can cause cyanosis in dogs. This includes valve disorders, congenital heart defects, and arrhythmias.
How Is Cyanosis Treated?
The treatment for cyanosis will vary depending on the underlying cause. If your dog has a foreign body obstructing its airway, it will need to be taken to the vet for emergency surgery or removed by the owner if possible.
If they have anemia, they may require blood transfusions or medication. Lung disease will be treated with antibiotics, while heart disease may require surgery or medication. Blood clotting disorders will often require lifelong treatment with blood thinners.
Cyanosis can be a serious condition, so it is important to keep an eye out for symptoms of cyanosis. These include:
Bluish or purple mucous membranes
- Difficulty breathing
- Exercise intolerance
- Excessive panting
- Yelping or coughing
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Cyanosis can be a life-threatening condition, so prompt treatment is essential.
Some Additional Causes of Purple Tongue
As far as other dangerous causes of a purple tongue, here are a few:
An Indicator of Cancer
While it’s not the only symptom, a purple tongue can be an early indicator of cancer. If your dog is displaying other concerning symptoms like weight loss, lethargy, or appetite changes, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.
A Symptom of Low Blood Sugar
If your dog’s tongue looks purple and feels tacky, it could be a sign of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This is especially common in small breeds of dogs. If your dog’s tongue is purple and it is also displaying symptoms like weakness, trembling, or seizures, take them to the vet immediately as this is a medical emergency.
A Sign of Diabetes
A purple tongue can also be a symptom of diabetes. If your dog is drinking a lot of water, urinating frequently, and has lost weight despite having a good appetite, it’s important to have it checked out by a vet as they may have diabetes.
Gastro Intestinal Torsion
Finally, a purple tongue can also be a symptom of gastric dilatation-volvulus, more commonly known as bloat. This can be a life-threatening condition and requires immediate veterinary treatment. If your dog’s tongue is purple and it is also bloated, has a rapid heart rate, and is having difficulty breathing, get them to the vet right away.
If your dog has ingested something toxic, it can cause its tongue to turn purple. If you suspect your dog has ingested something poisonous, call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
While a purple tongue can be alarming, in most cases it is not serious and will go away on
Is It Normal for a Dog’s Tongue to Be Purple?
If your dog is experiencing cyanosis, it is not normal for its tongue to be purple. This is a sign of a serious medical condition and you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
If your dog’s tongue is purple and it is not showing any other signs of illness, it may be because of other, less serious causes. These include:
Eating Purple Foods
If your dog has been eating purple foods, such as blueberries or grapes, its tongue may turn purple. This is not harmful and will go away once they stop eating the food.
If your dog is mildly dehydrated, its tongue may turn a slightly darker color. This is because the mucous membranes are not as moist and can appear darker.
In cold weather, your dog’s tongue may turn a slightly bluish or purplish color. This is due to the vessels in the mucous membranes constricting to conserve heat.
The Breed of Dog
Some breeds of dogs, such as Chow Chows and Shar-Peis, have naturally purple tongues. This is due to a pigment in the mucous membranes called melanin.
Black Hairy Tongue
One possible reason for your dog’s purple tongue is a condition called “black hairy tongue”. This is a harmless condition that is caused by the overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria produce a dark pigment that stains the tongue black or purple. Black hairy tongue is more common in dogs with long tongues because the bacteria can accumulate in the folds of the tongue.
As dogs age, their mucous membranes can become thinner and more fragile. This can cause them to appear darker in color and take on a purple hue.
What to Do if My Dog’s Tongue Is Turning Purple?
If your dog’s tongue is turning purple and it is showing other signs of illness, such as weight loss, lethargy, or appetite changes, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. Try to see your vet within the week.
If your dog’s tongue is purple and it is displaying symptoms like weakness, trembling, or seizures, take them to an animal emergency center right away. If possible, you or someone else in the household should call ahead to let them know you are on your way and ask if you can do anything to prepare for your arrival.
If you think your dog has ingested something poisonous, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or your veterinarian right away.
Stay calm and supportive of your pup. The less stress that’s involved, the better off they’ll be. Gently talk to your dog and provide it with light petting on your way to the emergency center or vet.
If your dog has a purple tongue due to a less serious cause, such as eating purple foods, there is no need to take it to the vet. The purple color will go away on its own once they stop eating the food. If you are concerned about your dog’s dehydration levels, make sure they have access to fresh water and try adding a little chicken broth (with no seasonings) to their water to encourage them to drink.
If your dog’s tongue is purple due to cold weather, make sure they are not left outside for extended periods of time and bring them inside if they seem cold. You can also try using a humidifier in your home to help keep the air moist.