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NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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My dog gets a very pale tongue at times - not white ...

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My dog gets a very pale tongue at times - not white but pale. My understanding is a white tongue in a dog indicates shock. Does the pale tongue mean he may go into shock? How pale can it go before I need to go to the emergency?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
If the tongue gets pale it can indicate shock or it can indicate a circulation problem, low blood sugar, a problem with internal bleeding anything that might drop blood pressure or reduce the volume of circulating oxygen which is what makes the blood red color in the tongue area.
Extreme cold can do this too.
You should probably consult with your regular vet to check and see if there are any heart or pulmonary issues. Maybe checking bloodwork to make sure all internal organs are running properly too.
One thing you can check is to push on the tongue and see if color comes back rapidly or if its really slow to return as that indicates there is a problem in circulation.
If your dog seems really ill, lethargic, has trouble breathing along with the pale tongue the emergency vet is a good idea.
Hope this helps you!
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to nholmes's Post: This problem has been going on for several years. His mouth/tongue fluctuates between normal looking and through various shades of pink. At times it can look very pale pale pink. He has had all types of blood tests, x-rays etc. Last set of tests found no problems.

Only health issues seem to be thyroid (has meds)
and a growth had to be removed (non-cancer).

The items you stated that could cause the problem seems to be ruled out - correct? Can cancer create this type of problem?
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
That would have been nice information to share up front that this wasn't a new issue and that tests had been done. I can only work from what you give me. So thanks for the added info!
You didn't mention what kind of dog he is. Some breeds have issues with intermittent heart malfunctions where the heart beat goes off for a few moments and then goes back to normal. Cardiomyopathy is a disease where there is an electrical conduction problem which causes the heart to beat erratically (called an arrhythmia) some of the time. Typically this is found using a Holter Monitor over a period of time. You can read about this disease here on a site about the Boxer version of this problem
Other breeds can have this problem too.
A cancer might cause a problem if it was say a chest wall or spleen area cancer that caused a blood pressure drop from bleeding intermittently.
But bloodwork should show the typical changes found when cancer is present in the body.
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