Did you know that your dog’s tongue is actually an amazing, hardworking organ? It is one of the most important parts of his body. He uses it to eat, lap water, swallow, cool himself down and show love and affection.
Here are some cool facts about a dog’s tongue:
The tongue is essentially an elongated muscular organ. It is controlled by 5 pairs of nerves, coming directly from the brain, and no less than 8 pairs of muscles. It is also longer and narrower that a human’s tongue.
The tongue is held in place by the frenulum – the band of tissue directly under the tongue. You have one too, it is just not as well developed as your dog’s.
Most dogs have pink tongues, but breeds like the Chow Chow and Shar Pei both have blue or dark tongues. No one knows exactly why.
Dark pigments in patches on your dog’s tongue, gums and inner lips are common and of no medical significance. However, if these dark patches look like a bump or is raised above the surrounding tissue, have your veterinarian examine it.
Dogs have about one sixth the number of taste buds on their tongues than humans. Their sense of taste is actually poorly developed and will eat almost anything without much discrimination.
When drinking water dogs use a simple lapping action with their tongue curled slightly backwards to form a “spoon” or “cup” that collects as much water as possible and quickly puts it back in their mouths. Watch this video see how a dogs drinks water in slow motion.
Like cats, dogs also groom themselves by licking their fur, but because they have a smooth tongue they are not as effective at getting the job done.
To cool themselves down, dogs pant. This action allows air to move quickly over the their tongue, mouth and upper respiratory tract allowing moisture to evaporate and cool them down.
Image: photo of Dixie Bezuidenhout