Dog's tongue is damaged - turned black & can't eat
Our dog's tongue has a 2 inch blackish area and he can't manage to eat food or drink water. We are hand feeding him and giving him water through a syringe. The vet said that part of his tongue has necropsy and may fall off. He gave him an antibiotic and is coming to the house every day to check on him for the next five days.
What happened: Our dog was out in the garden two days ago. When he came in, his tongue was bright red, swollen and hanging out. I noticed a small black area that looked like a bruise. He was slobbering. We called our vet who came immediately. He said it looked like he'd eaten a poisonous plant or gotten a bug bite. He gave him antihistamines and told us not to let him eat or drink and try to keep him from biting his tongue for the next 24 hours. He rechecked him a couple of hours later. Our dog kept slobbering and it was mixed with blood which we think was from biting his tongue. The next morning, the swelling went down but he wouldn't eat any food. He just slept for most of the 24 hours after the incident and then began to walk around a little.
This morning, he wanted to go for a walk and had more energy. It was this afternoon that the vet gave his diagnosis which he said is very rare. He still thinks it was from an insect or poisonous plant and we did find a mushroom patch which was looked like it has a bite out of it. Also, our dog's breath is horrible. You can smell him from a few feet away. We took him to the vet who gave him an IV and antibiotic and showed us how to feed him.
I googled and couldn't find anything that resembles what is happening to our dog. Has anyone heard of anything like this? The vet says if part of the tongue falls off he still should be able to drink water and manage normally. We will be hand feeding him for however long it is necessary (sticking our hand way in the back of his mouth with soft canned dog food).
I am so sorry about your poor dog! It sounds as if your vet is doing a great job. A poisonous spider or other insect bite could cause a problem as you have described. Dogs will bite all kinds of things to eat and as defense and occasionally get stung or bitten on the tongue. Necrosis of the tongue surrounding the bite or sting occurs when the area actually dies off. This does not mean that the entire tongue will fall off or that your dog will do badly from this. The necrotic part of the tongue may have to be removed surgically to expidite healing. Please ask your vet about this. In the mean time continue to feed and care for your dog as you have been.
Dear Dr. Cheng, Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. You are right, our vet has been wonderful, checking on our dog and giving him antibiotics every day. After several days it became clear that our dog was going to lose a part of his tongue. His tongue actually split in front so he looked like he had a viper tongue as the healthy tissue separated from the dead (wish I'd taken a picture now but it was too traumatic at the time!). At that point our vet injected him with a spider poison that sped up the process of losing that part of his tongue (he told us they also use this venom for breast cancer treatment!).
The next day, the dead part dropped off and the horrible smell went away. He told us to keep a close eye on our dog to make sure there wasn't much blood loss when the tongue did drop. Thankfully, there was hardly any blood at all. By that night, he was able to eat soft food on his own and now he is learning to lap up water too. It's been quite an episode but we are very grateful that our dog is going to be alright and for the excellent care he received.
All in all, there were six vet visits to our home, one visit to the vet's office where he administered an IV, about 14 injections (mostly antibiotics, initially an anti-inflammatory), 4 cans of soft food (Science Diet), and a medicine to put on his tongue. Total cost for everything was approximately $215. Yes, you read that correctly. He's also given us great advice for dog training. So, we thank God and our vet for a happy outcome. Thanks to you as well for the reassurance that this was handled well.
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