Gum Problems in Dogs: 4 Issues and What They Mean

Have you ever wondered what the colour of your dog’s gums means? What do healthy gums look like and how can you pick up gum problems in dogs? We find out everything you need to know.

As paw parents, the health and wellbeing of our precious pets is something we take very seriously. Your dog’s gums can tell you a lot about their health. Gums are mucous membranes that surround the teeth. The gums act as a barrier of protection for the teeth, they produce mucus and contain blood which is what gives them their pink appearance.

When your dog’s gums change in colour, then this might be indicative of an underlying health issue.

What do healthy gums look like?

Healthy gums will have a light pink appearance. When you press on the gums, they should typically change to a pale pink or white colour and then return to pink when you release the pressure.

Did you know what the period of time it takes for the gums to return to the pink colour after pressing on them is known as the capillary fill time (CRT)? The gums should be wet or slippery and smooth when running your finger along them, not dry or sticky.

Discover: 10 Warning Signs You Need to Take Your Pet to the Vet (and How to Afford It Too!)

Gum Problems in Dogs

Blue or purple gums

Blue gums could mean that your dog is not receiving enough oxygen in her body. Blue or purple gums might be a sign of cyanosis (when certain body parts turn blue due to a lack of oxygen).

Cyanosis may be caused by a number of health concerns that affect your dog’s respiratory system. Congestive heart failure, pneumonia and other airway issues can lead to blue discolouration of the gums. All of these conditions are very serious and will require immediate medical attention.

White or pale pink gums

If there is a lack of blood or low levels of haemoglobin (the protein found in red blood cells) are present, then this may cause the gums to appear white or pale pink in colour. This can be a result of blood loss or anaemia.

There are a variety of health concerns that can lead to anaemia. The typical cause of blood loss is from trauma or a serious accident. Both of these conditions are serious and you should take your dog to the vet if this is the case.

Bright red or bright pink gums

Bright red or bright pink gums may be a sign that your dog is overheating (heatstroke), has gingivitis (gum disease), or stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth). If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke or gum disease (which can cause swollen and painful gums), then phone your vet and ask him or her what you should do next.

Related: How Do I Know My Dog is in Pain? 8 Signs

Bleeding gums

Bleeding gums can be a result of periodontal disease such as gingivitis (gum disease), stomatitis or growths on the gums. If your dog’s gums are bleeding, it is essential to take them to the vet.

Growths on the gums

Warts and oral tumours are commonly seen on a dog’s gums. In some cases, these growths are benign (not harmful) and might disappear on their own. And in other cases, they might be contagious or cancerous.

An example of a contagious viral disease is papillomatosis, this can easily spread from one dog to another and causes fleshy, pink warts along the gums and other areas of your dog’s body. However, these warts are not as serious as other types of tumours or growths on the gums. If you notice any growths in your dog’s mouth, it is best to get them examined by a vet.

How to treat gum problems in dogs

The treatment for gum problems in dogs will depend on the underlying health concern. If the problem is linked to a breathing condition (respiratory), such as blue gums, then this will require oxygen therapy and possibly medications too.

If the gums are white or pale pink, then your dog may need a blood transfusion as a result of blood loss or anaemia. If there is a growth on the gums, then your dog may need surgery to remove it.

How to prevent gum issues in my dog

Dental care and health are so important for our precious pooches. We need to ensure we look after our dog’s teeth and their health by brushing their teeth, giving them chewy treats that help fight plaque and making sure they eat the right food.

Make sure you book regular check-ups with your vet (pet insurance can help cover the costs of routine care) so that he or she can clean your dog’s teeth and detect any underlying health issues before they become a bigger problem.

Read next: Is Your Dog Acting Strange? Here Are 8 Reasons Why

Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,

The Team