Your dog licks you and you recoil.
Why is your dog’s tongue so cold?
A dog’s tongue can be impacted by a lot of things — some environmental and some more serious. But usually it’s dangerous if your dog’s tongue is hot. If your dog’s tongue is cold, it’s probably just fine.
Why is my dog’s tongue so cold?
Dogs use their mouths to interact with the world. Much like a human will feel things, dogs will touch things with their tongue.
If your dog has been licking something cold, your dog’s tongue will be cold. That includes lapping up water from their bowl, licking a cold surface (like the refrigerator or a windowpane), or even licking a cold drinking glass.
Because dogs can’t sweat, they lower their body temperature by panting. This explains why a tongue is often warm. But if a dog’s tongue is cold and there isn’t anything major wrong with your dog, it’s just that your dog has “touched” something cold.
If your dog has been out in the elements, it is possible your dog’s internal temperature has dropped. This is very dangerous; it’s an indicator of hypothermia. Another thing that could drop a dog’s temperature deceptively quickly is swimming around in cold water.
But it’s likely that if that’s the issue you’re experiencing, you’ll know.
Is my dog’s tongue supposed to be cold?
If your dog’s tongue has been in its mouth, its tongue should reflect its internal temperature, which will be about 99.5 degrees to 102.5 degrees. Dogs run hotter than people, which is why their tongues usually feel warm to us.
But that doesn’t mean your dog’s tongue will always be hot. If your dog has been panting, its tongue will feel cold. Because dogs pant to reduce their temperature, they may keep it hanging out of their mouth; that naturally reduces the temperature of their tongue.
So, while your dog’s tongue “should” be warm, there are reasons for it being cold. Your dog’s tongue could be cold for a number of other reasons too; your dog could have just drunk water or could have licked a cold surface.
You should be aware that a hot tongue, on the other hand, is often a symptom of fever. If your dog’s tongue is hot, you should take your dog to the vet. Having a dry tongue can also be a sign that something is wrong with your dog. Frequently dry tongues could mean that your dog is dehydrated.
In short, your dog’s tongue shouldn’t be cold, but it’s not a major cause of any particular illness.
What to do about my dog having a cold tongue?
Any change in your dog could indicate that something’s wrong. If your dog has a cold tongue and blue-ish gums, for instance, your dog might be experiencing something serious, such as difficulty breathing or internal bleeding. But if your dog just has a cold tongue and nothing else is happening, then it’s probably just that your dog just ate, drank, or otherwise licked something cold.
If your dog’s tongue isn’t strictly cold, but just colder than it usually is, it could be that your dog has been panting in an effort to cool down.
If your dog’s tongue remains cold without any visible reason, it may be just cause to take your dog to the vet. Because that means that your dog is experiencing some sort of temperature regulation issue. But apart from that, there’s really nothing you can do about your dog’s tongue issue. If the rest of your dog seems fine, then it’s probably an environmental cause.
You can ask your vet about your dog having a cold tongue. But commonly, the best thing you can do about your dog having a cold tongue is just wait. Wait an hour and see if your dog’s tongue is still cold. If your dog’s tongue isn’t still cold, then it was probably just a one-off incident. If your dog’s tongue is still cold for no reason, you should go to the vet.
While you’re checking your dog’s tongue, you might want to check your dog’s nose, too. Your dog’s nose should usually be a little wet and cold to the touch. If it’s dry, your dog may be dehydrated.
What temperature should a dog’s tongue be?
Dogs are usually a few degrees hotter than people. A person’s average temperature is 96.5 degrees. A dog is usually at least 99.5 degrees. But there’s a reason why a dog’s temperature isn’t usually taken from their mouth (beyond the practical ones).
When people are hot, they sweat. When the sweat evaporates, it cools them.
But dogs can’t sweat. They try to cool down through a combination of panting and their paws.
Your dog’s tongue should feel warm. But it can feel cold if it’s been panting because it’s doing its job — saliva is evaporating, cooling the tongue, and therefore cooling your dog. Your dog’s tongue should never be far off from your dog’s internal body temperature, however.
There are a lot of things that can happen that will temporarily cool your dog’s tongue. Notably, drinking some cold water is going to make your dog’s tongue feel a lot cooler. And because you, a human, are 96.5 degrees, a dog’s tongue doesn’t have to be that cold to feel cool to you.
There aren’t many known issues that would make a dog’s tongue cold, so you shouldn’t think your dog is sick unless your dog is exhibiting other symptoms. If your dog’s tongue is cold and also you’re experiencing other problems (like, for instance, your dog is panting very heavily, and your dog appears to be lethargic), then it’s a sign of a bigger problem.
You can always call your vet and ask your vet if you should bring your dog in. Keep in mind certain important signs, such as whether your dog is eating, if your dog has been more lethargic than normal, and if your dog is dehydrated.