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Why Is My Dog’s Tongue White?

Is your Westie dog’s tongue white? Are you not sure what color it should be?

Our dogs are our best friends. We would do anything for our little furry companions. This is why it can be so stressful when we are unsure what is wrong with them, or when they seem to need medical help.

If you have noticed that something looks off or different about your dog’s tongue and mouth, then it is a good idea to seek the help of a veterinarian. If you’re unsure of what your dog’s tongue should look like, then we can help in this guide.


Why is my dogs tongue white. Westie with white tongue


A dog’s tongue is made up of a structure of muscles, nerves, glands, and blood vessels. If there are changes in the tongue’s texture, color, shape or coating, then this could indicate that your dog has some health problems that need your attention.

Why Is My Dog’s Tongue White?

If your dog’s tongue appears more white or pale in nature, then this is a sign that there is a problem. In most cases, a white tongue indicates

  • anemia
  • blood loss
  • poisoning
  • infection
  • or parasites

If your dog’s tongue is white, then this is a big red flag that something is wrong with your dog.

This could be a sign of poor circulation, blood deficiency or blood loss, or toxic chemicals within your dog’s system. The most common cause is anemia. If your dog produces low levels of blood cells or hemoglobin, then the tongue can become white.

If this is the case, then you will need to take your pet to the vet to receive treatment. Other causes include parasites such as ticks, worms or fleas. These parasites feed on the blood and can cause anemia and other threatening diseases, which can result in the whitening of the tongue and the dog’s gums and mouth.

In the worst cases, if your dog has ingested a poisonous or toxic substance such as rat poison, then this can impact the body and how it clots blood. This can cause blood loss such as internal bleeding, which will also cause the tongue to turn white.

If your dog is suffering from internal bleeding, then they may have bloody stools, bloody urine, or they may vomit some blood. This requires immediate medical attention. Some viruses can also cause a white tongue such as fungi and bacteria.

This can result in a white coating on the tongue or white lumps. Other signs of a virus include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, and unresponsiveness. If you notice these white bumps and streaks on the tongue, go to a veterinarian immediately for advice and guidance.

As you can see from the above examples, a white tongue is definitely a sign that your dog is suffering from a health problem, and it is best in these cases to speak to a veterinarian so that you can find the root of the problem, and treat your dog.

Signs Of Anemia In Dogs

Westie looking sad

The most common cause of a white tongue in dogs is anemia. This is not often life threatening, and can be treated with medication. The first sign of anemia in dogs is the loss of the bright pink color on the tongue and the dog’s gums.

The tongue and gums will appear pale in appearance, and nearly white in color. Anemic dogs also have very little energy, and can be very lethargic. They may have little to no stamina, and can tire easily.

Weight loss is also a sign of anemia in dogs, along with loss of appetite, raised heart rate, blood loss (like bloody stool or nose) and labored breathing.

>> What Food Are Westies Allergic To?

What Color Should My Dog’s Tongue Be?

When your dog is healthy, the tongue should be a deep pink color.

Westie with a pink tongue

That being said, some dog breeds can have darker tongues, or even ones that appear black. Some dogs that are mixed with breeds like the Chow Chow or Shar Pei breeds, who are known for black tongues can have black spots on their tongues too.

Some dogs even have black spots on their tongues without being mixed with these breeds. This is more common in Westies, Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and some hound breeds. This is simply pigmentation, and many dogs are either born with them, or it develops over time.

Black spots are generally harmless, as long as the tongue is overall pink in appearance. Other colors can indicate various different things. For instance, a bright pink tongue demonstrates that the dog is healthy. A very red tongue can show that the dog is overheated, or there is some inflammation or infection in the body.

A yellow or orange tongue can convey liver, pancreas, and autoimmune problems or even jaundice, whereas a blue or purple tongue can indicate poor respiratory or oxygenation problems.

What To Do If Your Dog’s Tongue Is White?

If your dog’s tongue is white in appearance, then this is a sign that there is a medical issue that could need emergency treatment. Waiting to see what happens is not advised, and you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible to get an appointment.

The veterinarian will be able to provide tests and diagnose what the cause is, to reduce the risk of any further problems and complications. It is a good idea to take fresh stool samples or urine samples if possible to the vet, in order for them to rule out other health complications.

If you are worried that your dog may have ingested something that could be toxic or life threatening, then try to induce vomiting and see a veterinarian immediately. When traveling to the vet, keep your dog stress and anxiety free to help them remain calm.


To summarize, a dog’s tongue should be bright pink in color. If the tongue is white, then this indicates that there is a health issue with your pet. A white tongue is most often caused by anemia, which can be treated by medication.

However, a white tongue can also be caused by blood loss, ingesting toxic or poisonous substances, parasites, viruses and more. Therefore, if your dog has a white tongue, it is paramount that you take them to the vet to find the cause.

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