Why is my dog’s tongue blue?

Our question this week was:

Dear Dr. Debra,

My name is Tyler and I want to be a vet, but I am only 12-years-old. I have a German shepherd named Shilo and his tongue turned blue on 11/13/08. I became very worried after I did some research on cyanosis and what it can do. But I really became worried when he bit me the other day almost in the eye. The reason why I am so worried is that he never ever bit me before he is a guard dog and a pretty darn good one at that! When I was doing research on the German Shepherd’s characteristics and their most common diseases (I did a new dog every week).

I read that a German Shepherd will never turn on it’s owner, unless it had a problem. And I really need to know how much money it will take to treat cyanosis. Shilo is my best friend we do everything together watch baseball (shilo and mine favorite sport) basketball, football and the country music channel. We even share the same bed!!! So please if you will please, please help a little boy try to make his best friend better and contact me immediately.


Hi – thanks for your email. I’m sorry to hear about Shilo. There are several causes for cyanosis and none of them are “good” causes for the most part. Most of the possible causes are serious and even life-threatening. Cyanosis is a symptom of many different diseases – primarily problems that involve the heart or lungs.

The best thing to do for Shilo is to have your mom or dad schedule an appointment at your veterinarian and have him evaluated. He may need some tests such as x-rays (radiographs) and/or blood work to help find out why he is having problems.

As far as what it could be – there are many causes. There is nothing you can do at home – the best thing is to have him examined by a veterinarian. In the meantime, keep him quiet with minimal activity.

I don’t know how much it will cost – not until they know what is wrong. The vet that examines him should be able to give you an estimate of the cost.

Sometimes dogs will bite if they don’t feel good. Be very careful – don’t trust him as if he doesn’t feel good – he could bite again.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are Cyanosis (Blue Coloration) in Dogs and Dyspnea (Trouble Breathing) in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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