My sister’s dog occasionally loses her breath and her tongue turns blue. What can this be?

Question: 

My sister’s apple-head Chihuahua lost her breath, her jaw turned sideways, and her tongue turned blue. It looked like a stroke to us. She got her color back to pink, but every once in a while it happens again, where her jaw is crooked and she can’t breathe. What could it have been?

Answer: 

Based on the very limited information provided, it could be anything from an intracranial issue to a cardiac or even respiratory/reverse sneeze issue. Since we do not know the dog’s age or any other specifics (i.e., is the dog missing any teeth?), it is recommended that your sister make an initial appointment with a veterinary specialist in internal medicine for some testing/evaluations as well as an oral exam. Going from your question, the event appears to be episodic, which leads one to think it is probably not a neurologic issue. The specialist you see will want to know if the dog is “normal” between episodes and whether the episodes correlate with general excitement. We recommend that your sister try to video an episode and take it with her to the specialist. All in all, we do not have enough clinical information to make a highly educated guess as to what the dog’s exact issue truly is. The dog does need to be evaluated, however, as not being able to effectively breathe is something that will not improve on its own over time. Please contact an internal medicine specialist in your area. You may need a referral from your primary care veterinarian.