Some parts of a dog’s anatomy work in a similar way to the human body, while other elements of a dog’s biology are very different. An interesting part of a dog’s body is its tongue, as it differs from human tongues in many ways, it serves multiple purposes and can tell you a lot about your dog and its general health. Some of the facts about dog’s tongues may surprise you, so here are 10 things you didn’t know about a dog’s tongue.
1. Dogs Regulate Their Body Temperature with Their Tongues
According to Pet First, a dog’s tongue plays a crucial role in its survival. While humans have sweat glands at various points around their body so that they can regulate their body temperature, dogs do not regulate their temperature in the same way. Instead, they pant so that they can regulate their body temperature using their tongue. By panting, a dog draws in cool air, which helps warm moisture from the tongue to evaporate.
2. Not All Dog Tongues are Pink
The most common color for a dog’s tongue is pink, although not all dog breeds have a pink tongue. Breeds such as the Shar-Pei and the Chow-Chow have a tongue that is blue, dark, or spotted with blue or purple. It is essential that you know the normal color for your dog’s tongue, as differences in the regular coloring is sometimes an indication of a health problem.
3. Tongue Color is an Indicator of Health Problems
A tongue that differs from its normal color is a symptom of some health conditions. A tongue that becomes paler than usual is potentially a sign of malnutrition, anemia, or some blood conditions. Yellow tongues are a sign of gallbladder or liver problems. A tongue that becomes dark red, blue, or purple is potentially a sign of cancer, diabetes, or toxification unless that is your dog’s tongue’s normal coloring.
4. Tongues Play an Important Part in Grooming
For humans, the tongue’s primary purposes are eating and tasting food and formulating different speech sounds. Dogs use their tongues for additional purposes, such as grooming. When you see your dog licking itself, this is not because it feels nice, but because they are cleaning themselves. Not only do dogs clean themselves with their tongue, but they also clean their puppies.
5. Dogs Use Their Tongues to Show Love
Dogs use their tongues as a way of expressing their emotions. Every dog owner will have experience of their dog greeting them when they return home. These greetings come in different forms, depending on the dog’s personality. Commons signs of their pleasure at seeing their human include barking, wagging their tail, and rolling over to have their tummies tickled. It is also common for them to cover their owner in kisses by licking them.
6. A Dog’s bark is Influenced by Its Tongue
Many factors influence the way a dog barks, including its size and breed. Many people do not realize that their tongue’s size and shape can also affect the sound that a dog’s bark makes. Just like humans, the mouth and tongue of a dog influence how they communicate and the sounds that they make. However, a dog’s tongue differs in how it moves as they do not make the same range of sounds as humans in their communication. Due to a dog not needing the same range of motion, a dog’s tongue is longer and narrower than human tongues.
7. They Have Fewer Taste Buds Than Humans
For both dogs and humans, the tongue plays a vital role in tasting food. However, there is a significant difference between the number of taste buds on a dog’s tongue compared to a human tongue. According to My Pet Needs That, the average human has around 10,000 taste buds, compared to only 1,700 taste buds on a dog’s tongue. One reason for this is that smell plays as much of a role in tasting food for dogs as the tastes in their mouths. Dogs have a much more acute sense of smell than humans.
8. They Taste the Same Range of Flavors as Humans
Despite having fewer taste buds than humans, dogs can taste the same range of flavors as humans. These include sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and meaty. However, although they can taste the same variety of flavors, the intensity of these flavors are not as strong for dogs as their sense of smell is also used. Dogs differ from cats, as cats cannot taste the same range of flavors as dogs and humans. Cats cannot taste the sweet flavors in food, so they do not particularly like sweet foods.
9. Dogs Use a Lapping Motion with Their Tongues to Drink Water
Another way that dogs differ from cats is the way that they use their tongues for drinking water. A cat only uses the tip of its tongue to suck up water and then closes its jaw to trap the water in its mouth before swallowing. Unlike a cat, a dog uses a lapping motion with its tongue to drink its water. To lap up the water, a dog slightly curls its tongue’s edges to create a spoon-like shape.
10. A Dog’s Tongue Carries a Lot of Bacteria
It is a myth that dogs’ tongues are cleaner than those of humans, says Pet MD. There is an old saying about licking your wounds clean, and many people believe that if they allow their dog to lick their wounds clean, it will help them heal quickly. However, that is not the case, and people should not allow their dogs ever to lick an open wound. A dog’s mouth and tongue are full of bacteria, so allowing a dog to do this puts you at risk of developing an infection in the wound.