Are my dog's gums healthy?
What color are dogs' gums supposed to be?
Before you can tell if your dog's gums look a little strange, you need to know what they should look like. If you're wondering "what color dog gums are supposed to be", you should know that depending on your dog and his breed, healthy gums are usually pink; ranging from soft pink to bright pink. It is also important to note that they should be moist.
In some dogs, the gums are pigmented, giving them a black color. If they have naturally darker gums, to make sure your dog's good gum health isn't compromised, check the lighter areas of their gums for that all-important pink shade, or check the area under their tongue, which should be the same color. If you press on the pink gum, it should turn white. When your finger leaves the gum, it should turn pink again almost immediately, the same way a human gum does. If you notice that your dog's gums are a little pale or white, you need to do something about it...
Why are my dog's gums pale?
A dog's oral health is critical to his overall health, and the color of his gums is often a good indicator of his health. If your dog's gums are pale, it may be a sign of an underlying problem!
1/ Blood loss
If your dog is losing blood due to an external or internal injury (or due to certain diseases), there may not be enough blood in the body to circulate. Decreased blood flow to the gums and membranes may be the cause of this pale shade.
If there is obvious external bleeding, or blood in his vomit or feces (which may appear black or tar-colored, once digested), take him to a veterinarian immediately, as this could be a sign of an ulcer!
If your dog goes into shock (usually caused by trauma or certain illnesses), it can cause a sudden drop in blood flow throughout the body, which can lead to tissue damage and organ failure. Pale gums may be a sign of this. Shock is an emergency condition and you should take your puppy to your veterinarian immediately if you see any strange behavior in your pooch.
Most often, pale gums are an indicator of anemia. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red blood cells circulating in the blood. A good level of red blood cells is essential to carry the right amount of oxygen to all tissues in the body. If the body is deprived of oxygen, it can be life-threatening for your dog.
Anemia is usually a symptom of a disease, rather than a disease itself. For example, diseases that cause anemia include kidney disease, parasitic infections and infectious diseases. Certain medications used to treat certain medical conditions can also cause a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body. In addition, malnutrition or nutritional imbalances can cause anemia.
There is also a condition called hemolysis, which causes the destruction of red blood cells, resulting in acute anemia. Hemolysis is usually triggered by autoimmune disease, cancer, babesiosis (caused by blood parasites) or exposure to chemicals or toxins.
If your dog's gums are a little pale, but are also sticky and/or have lost their shiny appearance, it may be because they lack moisture and your dog needs water. Always make sure your dog has easy access to fresh, clean water in a regularly cleaned bowl.
My dog has pale gums - what should I do?
If you have noticed that your dog has pale gums, you will usually see the following symptoms:
- Pale mucous membranes on the eyelids
- Pale tongue
- Appearance of lethargy
- Collapse and weakness
First, check the above symptoms and examine his body for injuries that cause him to bleed. If he has pale gums and any of these other symptoms, you need to make an urgent trip to the vet. If he has pale gums, but otherwise appears normal, you should contact your veterinarian to make an appointment to better understand the cause and get professional advice.
The treatment of pale gums in dogs depends entirely on the underlying cause. Your veterinarian will examine them, discuss the symptoms with you and most likely order a blood test to check your dog's red blood cell count.
It's important for pet parents to regularly check their dog's gums and dental hygiene, as it directly impacts your dog's condition!