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Tongue Swelling View In Cats




Condition Overview

A swollen tongue is most often caused by an allergic reaction. Bee stings, injections, drug reactions, or food allergies can all cause a dog or cat to have trouble breathing, drool, and refuse to eat when his tongue swells.


Difficulty breathing, drooling, and refusal to eat are all common signs of tongue swelling.


If a small, sharp plant seed like a grass awn or a nettle, burr, or thorn gets caught in your pets coat, he may try to remove it by licking, and the irritant may embed in his tongue and cause swelling. If the cause is not removed, the sore can ulcerate and become infected. In other situations, curious pets lick something caustic, hot, or poisonous, which burns the tongue and prompts swelling. Less commonly, thread or even a rubber band (from a string of salami) gets wrapped around the tongue and cuts off the circulation causing it to swell.


Diagnosis can be made by examining the current state of the tongue.


Tongue swelling can be very serious because it may point to other problems, such as a mouth burn from electrocution. Medical treatment is important, and you cat or dog should be seen immediately after you notice the problem. In the meantime, first aid can reduce trauma and may even save your pet's life.

  1. Offer ice or ice water - When the tongue is dramatically swollen, the best and most effective treatment is to offer your pet ice water to drink, ice cubes to lick, or crushed ice to eat. Ice works wonders to bring down swelling by restricting bloodflow to the area. It also numbs the pain. Encourage your pet to take the cold water or ice, but don't force anything into his mouth, or you may risk making him choke.
  2. Check for a foreign object in the mouth - You dog or cat may not like you messing with his sore mouth, and he may need to be sedated by your vet before the object can be removed. If he will let you, open his mouth and shine a flashlight over the surface of the tongue. The underside often hides a grass awn, and strings can wrap around the very back of the tongue.
  3. Don't remove string-type material - You can severely injure a squirmy pet with scissors by trying to cut string free from the tongue. Worse yet, if even part of the thread has been swallowed, it could be anchored deep inside to a needle or a fishhook, which requires medical attention for removal. When a grass seed or thorn can be reached easily, you can grasp it with blunt tipped tweezers and pull it out, just like a splinter.

    You will need 2 people to try to remove something stuck in your pet's tongue. Have one person hold him securely and grasp the top of his muzzle. then you can gently grasp your pet's tongue, using a gauze or cloth to get a better grip. Gently hold the tongue, and don't pull too hard. Use the tweezers with your other hand. If your pet resists or becomes agitated, you will need to take him to the vet.
If the swelling is from contact with a caustic or toxic substance - It is important to dilute the effects of these substances. It is dangerous to try to pour water into your pet's mouth because you could drown him if he inhales and it goes down into the lungs. Instead, use a squirt bottle with plain water or sterile saline contact lens solution so that you can control the direction of the flow all around his mouth. Be careful not to direct the spray toward the throat so that you don't choke him, Flush the sore tongue for at least 10 minutes, or as long as your pet will allow.

If the swelling is from an allergic reaction - If your pet is having an allergic reaction to something like a bee sting, you can give him an antihistamine like Benadryl to help reduce the swelling. The liquid form of Benadryl usually comes in a dose of 12.5mg per teaspoon and the pills are 25mg each. Pets will need 1mg per pound of body weight (up to your veterinarians recommended max) every 6 - 8 hours. A swollen tongue can make giving a pill more difficult, so you may want to try crushing the pill, mixing it with a little water, and squirting it into his cheek with a needle-less syringe.


There is no prevention for this condition.


When the swelling is caused by an infection, you must give antibiotics to help heal the wound and get rid of the problem. A liquid medicine is usually prescribed when the mouth is painful. You can tip your pet's head up, squirt the medicine into his cheek with an eyedropper or needle-less syringe, and watch to be sure that he swallows. You may need to give antibiotics for a few weeks.

Any sore left behind by a foreign object may need to be flushed with an antiseptic solution like Chlorhexidine, which can help prevent infection. Purchase the solution from the vet. The flushing not only helps heal the wound and prevent infection, but the antiseptic has some numbing properties that can help relieve pain. You can put the solution in a squirt bottle or even a squirt gun to give you some extra directional control. Treat only the affected areas.

Continue to offer ice for you pet to lick. Ice is soothing to inflamed tissues, and it helps ensure that your dog or cat gets enough fluid. A pet with a swollen tongue is often reluctant to eat or drink and can become dehydrated very easily.

Soften food by running it through a blender or food processor with low-fat, no-salt chicken broth, beef broth, or bouillon to turn it into a gruel. These add a strong flavor to the food that makes it more appealing. Feed a soft diet for at least the first 2 - 3 day, or until your pet's tongue has lost its tenderness and he can easily eat his regular diet once again.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

1 Comment For "Tongue Swelling"



cats pallet in his mouth is swollen not sure what it is does anyone know? or can suggest anything plz?

July 7, 2011 at 6:20AM  Sign In or Join to Comment

Bill Krom

Bill Krom

You have to sign in in order for us to know who we are talking to and also to receive notifications when replies come in. Stomatitis is an inflamed, sore mouth (in cats) and should be suspected when you see drooling, refusal to eat, difficulty chewing, head shaking, pawing at the face, and reluctance to allow a mouth examination. There are various causes for this condition and you may want to have you cat examined by a vet. Information on Stomatitis in cats is coming soon to the cat health section! Hope that helps

July 7, 2011 at 7:12AM  Sign In or Join to Comment