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Dog Gum Colors and Associated Health Problems

Picture of a dogs mouth

The visible mucous membranes of pets and farm animals can be used by vets to tell whether they might be suffering from a medical problem or not. In dogs, this is even truer if they suffer from anemia or have blood oxygenation issues, whether caused by toxic substances or cardiac problems. 

But how can you tell when something might be wrong merely based on the color of your dog’s gums? That’s the topic of today’s article, so keep on reading to find out the answer to this question. 

What color should your dog’s gums be?

Any dog’s gums should be a rosy pink, but in some breeds, the color can be difficult to assess as their gums are naturally mottled. However, even in these cases, you can see the color of the gums on the inside of the mouth. For example, you can take advantage of the moment when your dog yawns if you don’t want to open his or her mouth with your hands. 

When the color and other attributes of your pooch’s gums change, they can indicate several health problems. Gums are also used to assess capillary refill time, which can be important when trying to tell whether your dog has problems with blood perfusion or not.

Moreover, normal gums are wet and slick. In a dog that is dehydrated, they can be dry to the point that you can’t feel any moisture on their surface. 

Some dogs’ gums can be shrimp-pink across their whole surface, but bright red toward the teeth. If you notice this in your dog, it’s quite likely that he or she is suffering from some kind of dental disease whose outcome is gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can affect the entirety of the gums, and in some cases, it can cause severe repercussions on the dog’s general health status

What could pale gums mean?

If your dog’s gums are unusually pale or almost white, this could be a sign that your pet is either suffering from severe anemia or there could be blood loss somewhere in their body. This type of color is common in dogs that have sustained injuries as a result of getting into a car accident. 

Naturally, there are cases of anemia that develop over time, and if you pay enough attention, you’ll see the color of your pooch’s gums progress toward pale pink or white as time goes by. Take your dog to the vet if you notice this symptom as immediate treatment is necessary. 

What do yellow gums mean?

Yellow gums don’t show up as often as pale or even blue gums. In most cases, they are an indication that your canine friend is suffering from a health problem related to his or her liver. 

There is, however, the possibility of an enormous number of red cells having been destroyed, and this mucous membrane color shows up in spleen injuries, too, although pale gums are more typical for such cases.  

What about blue gums?

Blue gums are always something to worry about, so get to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible. This color shows up in dogs that have accidentally swallowed and choked on something or dogs that have ingested a potentially toxic substance, one that has caused them to have less oxygen in their blood flow. 

Additionally, blue gums can be an indication of hypothermia, heart problems, low blood pressure, or respiratory problems such as asthma or pneumonia, in some cases. As you could tell by now, this type of color is no joke, so seeking out medical assistance right after noticing it is mandatory and can make a difference when it comes to your canine companion’s life. 

Can my dog’s gums be bright red?

Bright red gums can be common in dogs that have suffered a heat stroke or have high blood pressure, but it also occurs in dogs that have a dental or gum infection or have just irritated their gums with a substance, a toy, a piece of wood, or anything else. 

If a local irritation is at the root of the problem, the gums aren’t going to be bloody red, but they are going to be significantly redder than usual. 

Treatment

There isn’t a universal type of therapy for all of the health problems that we have mentioned and that could be the cause of the color change in your dog’s gums. However, the veterinarian will do their best to diagnose the medical condition and intervene as soon as possible. 

For example, if your dog is suspected of having ingested a toxic substance, your pet will receive transfusions and IV fluids, along with several anti-toxic (but general) medications. Once the exact cause of the symptoms is discovered, the appropriate treatment will be administered. 

Of all of the conditions that we have mentioned, anemia can be the most challenging to treat, especially if its cause is represented by auto-immune disease, a blood clotting disorder, chronic renal failure, or severe parasite infestation. Cases of shock, heart disease, bloat, and other such conditions are easier to diagnose, and in some situations, they’re easier to treat if you get to the vet very fast. 

Anemia can also show up in cases of spleen cancer (particularly hemangiosarcoma), which can lead to severe internal bleeding inside the abdominal cavity, but it can also be a symptom of bone marrow cancer since it leads to a decrease in the production of red blood cells. Properly diagnosing a dog with this type of cancer can take some time (even several weeks, if additional tests are required), and the treatment can be quite expensive, especially if you have no pet insurance. 

In the end, preventing severe medical health problems can sometimes be done by checking your dog gum color on a regular basis. You have the opportunity to notice any changes since you interact with your dog every day, so it doesn’t hurt to pay a little more attention to this detail. Sometimes, it can even prevent some conditions from getting worse and being more difficult to treat. 

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