Gums are easy to overlook, but healthy dog gums are just as important for your dog’s oral health as healthy teeth. Moreover, your dog’s gums are an important indicator of its overall health status.
Gum diseases can not only cause pain and discomfort to your dog but may also indicate more serious conditions which need to be checked out by a vet.
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Healthy vs. Unhealthy Dog Gums
A dog’s gum health may provide valuable information about the dog’s health. You can tell a lot about your dog’s health by just having a peek at its gums. But what color should dogs gums be if your dog is perfectly healthy?
Healthy dog gum tissue looks like the seafood platter at your local supermarket. This means that if your dog is healthy its gums may appear a lighter shade of pink. A common analogy used is that healthy dog gums look like cooked shrimp.
But healthy dog gums can have a range of colors. For example, your dog’s gums may appear light bubble gum pink, slightly darker pink, or even concentrated pink throughout.
However, unhealthy gums appear much more different than healthy gums.
Gum inflammation, which can occur in multiple gum and systemic diseases, can lead to a change in color which can help identify the underlying problem as well.
If your dog is suffering from dental disease, its gums may appear red, purple, yellow, or even black. Sick dog gums can also be accompanied by other symptoms if they are caused by an underlying infection or a disease.
What Do Normal Dog Gums Look Like?
Apart from the color, both the texture and the smell of a dog’s gums provide valuable information about their health. But it is important to know what these parameters look like normally before you can make any assumptions based on your dog’s gums.
Normally, dogs’ gums are light pink/pale pink. It has a soft texture and they are always wet.
Unhealthy dog gums, i.e in case of gum disease, have a rough texture and are mostly dry. Moreover, they can have a multitude of different colors, as mentioned before, based on the underlying cause.
For example, little pale pink gum in dogs might mean nothing, but pale, almost white, gums can also be caused by anemia.
Red gums can indicate bleeding gums and blue or purple gums might mean that your dog has a bleeding disorder that is causing blood loss leading to poor circulation.
Here is a list of dog gum colors which individual explanations for each of them. You might want to read up on these explanations to correlate your dog’s gum health with its gum color to rule out any health concerns.
White or Pale Gums
Light bubble gum pink or pale pink is the normal color of your dog’s gums. If it looks just a little pale pink (not almost white) gums are indicative of normal, healthy gums in dogs. They are soft and wet and have a textured look.
But pale gums (white looking) may also indicate anemia, a disease that is caused by the decreased oxygen-carrying capacity of the red blood cells. Red blood cells are cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
If your dog has anemia, its gums may appear pale pink, lighter, or even white than normal dog gums.
Red gums or cherry red gums, unlike pale gums, are not normal and definitely indicate something sinister.
Your dog’s gum can be tinged red if your pup is suffering from bleeding gums. Red gums in dogs may indicate a bleeding disorder that is causing small amounts of blood loss from the gum tissue leaking onto the teeth.
Stomatitis, gingivitis, and vitamin C deficiency are some of the common causes of gum bleeding in dogs.
Bright Red or Dark Spots or Splotches
If your dog’s gum is bright red it either indicates inflammation or heat exhaustion.
Dogs suffering from heat stroke often have bright red gums. Gums turn bright red in heat stroke because the blood vessels dilate and try to lose as much heat as possible in an attempt to cool down the body.
If your dog is constantly panting, looks lethargic, and has bright red gums, it may be suffering from heat stroke.
Dark red gums or splotches on gums may be a sign of an active bleed from the gums.
Blue gums or Purple Gums
Blue gums or purple gums are a sign of low oxygen in the blood. The bluish hue that appears on the gums is also called cyanosis, which is a common feature in acute blood loss.
Blue or purple gums can be caused by acute blood loss, which can lead to an overall decreased quantity of hemoglobin, the compound in red blood cells which carries oxygen.
Blue gums may also appear in any disease which can impede a dog’s blood supply.
For example, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and even thrombolytic disorders are all very serious health conditions characterized by poor circulation and blood flow. All of these conditions may be accompanied by blue gums in dogs.
Unhealthy dog gums may also appear yellow.
Yellow gums are almost always indicative of an infection, either acute or chronic.
Sometimes, plaque formation in teeth may also cause discoloration of the gums leading them to appear yellow.
Yellow gums may also indicate Leptospirosis, an infection that leads to liver problems and jaundice.
How to Examine Your Dog’s Gums?
Now that you know what different gum colors in a dog mean, here’s how to examine your dog’s gums properly.
- Gently lift the upper lip of your dog to take a look at the pup’s gums.
- Focus on where the gums meet the teeth and move your way up.
- Hold your dog’s mouth firm while examining the color of its gums.
- You can also keep a dog gum color chart with you as a reference guide.
- A normal dog gum color chart will help you pinpoint signs of disease easily
- Examine both the gums and your dog’s teeth for signs of disease.
- Gently press your dog’s gums with your index finger to feel the texture.
Preventing Gum Problems in Dogs
Gum problems in dogs can be problematic, not only for the gums but for the overall health of your dog as well. Fortunately, gum diseases can be easily prevented if you take the time to properly care for your dog’s gums.
If your dog has gingivitis or other dental problems, its gums may be prone to bleeding causing a red tinge all over the gums. It can also lead to frequent gum infections, which can cause bad breath and chewing difficulty for your dog.
You can prevent these infections by simply brushing your dog’s teeth every day. Make sure that your dog drinks enough water as well throughout the day so that their oral cavity remains fresh and free from infection-causing agents.
Blue gums in dogs are caused by diseases that may cause cyanosis. Red gums indicate heat stroke or active bleeding. Black gums may mean severe infections. All of these are serious conditions that warrant immediate emergency care.
If your dog has any of these problems, make sure to take your dog to the vet immediately for emergency veterinary treatment. In severe cases, these problems may even cause serious threats to your dog’s life.
Healthy dogs have light pink gums. They have a smooth texture and a wet feel to them.
Unhealthy dog gums, on the other hand, can feel rough, have a bad smell, and have a variety of colors depending upon the underlying cause. You can tell a lot about a dog’s overall health just by looking at the dog’s gum colors.
Unhealthy dog gums not only indicate gum disease but also a variety of underlying problems that may be serious.
Some gum problems can be easily prevented at home by taking better oral care of your dog. Provide your dog with healthy food to keep your dog’s gums healthy. However, gum problems caused by underlying diseases can only be managed by a professional healthcare provider for your dog.
If your dog has red, blue, or even black gums, take him to the vet immediately for urgent care.
What color are a sick dog’s gums?
Dog’s gums can assume different colors depending on the underlying cause. Generally, unhealthy dog gums are often yellow, pale, bright red, blue, or even black.
What do unhealthy gums look like in a dog?
Unhealthy dog gums are often discolored, have a rough texture, and carry a bad smell.
Should my dog’s gums be black?
If your dog has black gums it might mean that an underlying disease is causing cyanosis or necrosis of the gums. Black gums can also mean fungal infections in dogs.