Purple tongue in dogs

Purple tongue in dogs: symptoms, causes and treatment

Does your dog turn purple or blue? Never overlook this and go to your vet as quickly as possible because your dog could be choking. Keep in mind that some dogs have bluish, purple and even black tongues by nature, but if your furry does not have this color of the tongue normally and you suddenly see this color change, you must think that something is happening that needs the attention of veterinary as soon as possible.

In this article, we focus on the purple tongue in dogs, its symptoms, causes and treatment, so read on if you want to know this topic well and take even better care of your dog’s health.

Why does my dog ​​have a purple tongue?

It must be taken into account that there are certain breeds of dogs that by genetics have blue, purple or even black tongues, whole or with spots. They are already born with this type of coloration on the tongue. There are dogs either cigars of one of these races or have a cross of any of these, which may have the tongue of these tones and not the typical pink color. Thus, it is natural in these cases and does not indicate any problem in the animal’s body. You will be able to see the purple or blue tongue or, even, the black tongue in dogs of these breeds:

Chow chow
Akita Inu
Border collie
Tibetan mastiff
German shepherd

It should be noted that the only breeds of dogs with blue or purple tongues in which all or practically all individuals have this characteristic color are the chow and shar-pei. In the other races mentioned, only some specimens have this characteristic, Although, in some, it is not presented completely. This coloration may appear in some parts of the tongue and not completely, which is why spots can be observed on dogs’ tongues.

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Symptoms of purple tongue in dogs

If your dog does not belong to the breeds described above and his normal tongue color is pinkish and has changed to a bluish or purple hue, it is usually due to a lack of oxygen in his body. The most frequent problems that cause this are respiratory problems, heart problems and obstructions in the larynx.

Certain symptoms accompany the purple tongue in dogs, which are the following:

Shortness of breath.

Why does my dog ​​have a purple tongue?

If your furry is not one of the cases of blue tongue in dogs, or of a purple hue, and you wonder why a dog’s tongue turns purple, the causes why the color of your furry’s tongue has changed they can vary a lot, as we have already mentioned before. However, the most frequent are the following:

Cardiovascular inefficiencies

Heart failure is the circulatory system’s inability to supply the tissues with the amount of blood they need at all times. This disability may depend on heart failure or that the heart does not receive enough blood. This problem can be caused by pathologies, such as the following:

Dilated cardiomyopathy: This happens when the heart has trouble contracting properly, making systole and diastole difficult. It causes the muscular walls of the heart to thin and the atria and ventricles to enlarge. This causes an enlarged heart that cannot provide the body with enough oxygen, consequently producing periods of fatigue and suffocation. It is usually treated with diuretics, pimobendan and IEAS, all to reduce edema, improve the heart’s contractility and as vasodilators.

Valvular degeneration: this problem falls on the heart valves, which do not work properly, causing a backward flow of blood into the atria. Consequently, as in dilated cardiomyopathy, it causes the heart to enlarge. It is treated using ACE inhibitors and diuretics. Any type of heart failure can cause the dog to drown due to the lack of oxygen that this produces.


Faced with this problem, the lung structures are inflamed, so the dog may have breathing difficulties and show a purple tongue because of it. The veterinarian will assess its severity by performing good auscultation, to hear the sound that the lungs make, X-rays of this area and will check if the dog has a fever to apply the treatment that best suits his condition, depending on the cause.

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Heatstroke happens when your dog is exposed to high temperatures for a long period. This consequently produces an increase in the temperature of your dog’s body and can cause problems such as lack of oxygen and consequently a bluish discoloration on the tongue.

Foreign object in the airways

Suppose your dog has ingested a foreign object such as a ball and it has become stuck in his respiratory system, most often in the larynx. In that case, you will notice that your dog keeps his head stretched to breathe better and may also cough to try to eject the stuck object. If you are aware that you are facing this problem, you can try to perform the Heimlich maneuver.


When a pneumothorax occurs, such as when a blow or injury damages the chest. Faced with this, the dog can drown and it is because of this, it presents its purple tongue.

Pleural effusion

This problem can be caused by respiratory, heart, kidney, liver problems, pneumonia … It happens when there is an accumulation of blood or serum in the chest, preventing the dog from breathing normally.


If your question is “why does my dog vomit and have a purple tongue?” You should know that when faced with poisoning, the dog may also have a lack of oxygen due to the substance that it has ingested and that is now in its body causing damage. Given this, you can also observe tremors, vomiting, sometimes bloody diarrhea, weakness and even respiratory arrest …

If your dog has a purple tongue and does not want to eat, vomits or has any of the symptoms mentioned above that is warning you of a problem, go to the vet quickly since you probably cannot do much about it to help him fully recover.

Treatment of purple tongue in dogs

If you have detected that your dog has suffered a change in color on the tongue, depending on the cause that has produced this problem, the vet will apply one treatment or another. The possible treatment of purple tongue in dogs are the following.

Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: the specialist will make the diagnosis based on ultrasound, X-rays and electrocardiograms and will assess the severity of the case. In this way, you can apply the treatment, which is usually with diuretics to reduce edema, drugs to improve contractility and also ACE inhibitors to promote vasodilation. In the event that there are also arrhythmias, they will be treated with lidocaine or another similar drug.

Pneumonia: requires special treatment depending on the microorganism causing the problem. In most cases, the veterinarian chooses to prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic. If there is no improvement, perform a culture to find out the microorganism to destroy and the tests he considers to determine the appropriate antibiotic. Corticosteroids and theophylline are often used to reduce inflammation and dilate the bronchi to improve the condition.

Heatstroke: if your dog is having a heat stroke, the first thing to do is protect it from high temperatures. When he is in a shady place, apply cold water to his neck, head, armpits and his pads and try to make him drink cool water so that he does not dehydrate, you can try to give it to him with a syringe without a needle, but never force it. Check her temperature frequently until it is normal (between 38 and 39). In case it does not improve in a few minutes or you notice that your dog has lost consciousness or is drowning, see the vet as soon as possible. He can lower his temperature as soon as possible and prevent problems secondary to heat stroke from appearing.

Obstruction of the airways: if you can see and remove the object from his mouth, try it, but if the object is sharp or is too deep, go to the vet so that he can remove it properly.

Pneumothorax: the veterinarian will be in charge of sucking the liquid or air from the chest to eliminate it and that the dog can breathe correctly. In open type pneumothorax, the choice is usually surgical.

Pleural effusion: the veterinarian will apply the appropriate treatment depending on the cause of this problem, which can only be found out by this specialist.

Poisoning: if you notice that your dog has been poisoned, go to the vet soon, so he can act to prevent the harmful substance he has ingested from invading his body before it ends his life. In case you have seen how your dog has been intoxicated and have seen what substance he has ingested, you can try to make him vomit as long as the substance is not corrosive and less than 3 hours have passed. To do this, take some hydrogen peroxide and make him drink it.

Roman Cyrus
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