Dr. Elliott: What the Tongue Can Tell Us

The appearance of the tongue can signal various health conditions.

The mouth is the doorway of the body, leading to the main organ of the oral cavity-the tongue. The tongue has a large population of blood vessels, small arteries and veins and is very sensitive to degraded health conditions in the animal which will reflect in a color variation from normal. Blood is actively circulating through out the tongue.

The tongue is a muscular organ, with striated muscles covered with a layer of specific mucosa. The tongue is an extremely well developed network of glands, papillae (needed for sense of taste), lymphatic tissues and movement.

The Art of Tongue Diagnosis

The appearance of the tongue can illustrate various health conditions. Tongue colorization can be sectioned into various colors including: White/Pale, Deep Red, Blue-Purple, White and Yellow/Orange.

The following are indications of the various problems associated with the different tongue colors:

  • Pink - is the normal color of the tongue, except for naturally black-tongued dogs.
  • Yellow/Orange - may indicate gastritis, gallbladder, or liver malfunction.
  • Red - may indicate bacterial infection, fever, gallbladder, kidney, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, cancer, toxin buildup, dehydration, or a possible vitamin deficiency.
  • White/Pale - leukemia, anemia, very sick, loss of blood, edema, weakness, immune function degraded, malnutrition, or lethargy.
  • Purple/Blue - heart disease, circulatory problems, respiratory problems, liver disease, a toxic system, organ distress, pain, hepatitis, liver cancer, or lupus.

Some Conditions of the Tongue

Stiff rigid tongue - loss of texture can be linked to the spleen or kidney. “Eroded tongue” is in this category. Animal may have developed sarcoma.

White tongue coating - fever, poor oral hygiene, gastric system malfunction, lung weakness.

Yellow tongue coating - system is not producing enzymatic activity and probiotic activity, poor pet food, lack of essential nutrients. Food stagnation causing internal toxic buildup-can cause other intestinal problems from stones to pancreatitis, poor appetite.

Black Tongue - common in some breeds. Antibiotic usage, kidney problem, organ problems, inflammatory infections, IBS.

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