Is Your Dog’s Gum Color Bad?

Is Your Dog’s Gum Color Bad?

A close-up of a healthy dog's gums.A close-up of a healthy dog's gums.
A close-up of a healthy dog's gums.A close-up of a healthy dog's gums.

What Healthy Dog Gums Look Like

Gum tissue, also known as the oral mucosa or mucous membranes, is the soft tissue lining in a dog’s mouth between the teeth and lips. This gum tissue is connected to the underlying bone tissue.

Gum color often provides insight into the wellbeing of a dog. The pink color in gums, similar to the pink tones found in human skin, is a result of blood flow to the gum tissues. Blood flow can be altered by conditions as a result of shock, blood loss, anemia, or other bleeding abnormalities. Dental issues can result in a deeper, red, and inflamed appearance to the gums, most commonly found right around the teeth.

Normal dog gum color can be either pink or pigmented, depending on the breed and pigmentation of the dog. It is easier to assess healthy gum color in dogs that are not pigmented. Popular breeds that are known for black pigmented gums include the Chow and the Chinese Shar-Pei.

In a canine with unpigmented gums, the normal dog gum color is a light shade of pink, sometimes referred to as “bubblegum pink.” The gums should be smooth, moist, and shiny with no evidence of excessive redness, discharge, or odor.

Some dogs will have both unpigmented and pigmented gums. In these cases, to assess the gum color, look at the unpigmented sections.

It is ideal to look in your dog’s mouth periodically providing that you can do so safely. Daily monitoring is easiest to do when you brush your dog’s teeth. These articles may be of interest to you:

What Unhealthy Dog Gums Look Like

As mentioned above, unhealthy gums can vary depending on your dog’s natural pigmentation.

Unhealthy gums can look like any of the following:

  • Pale. Pale gums or mucous membranes can indicate blood loss. The possible causes for blood loss can be life-threatening and should be evaluated immediately.
  • Bleeding. Bleeding gums can be caused by local or systemic problems. Local problems may include trauma to the mouth, infections or a foreign material being lodged in the tissue.
    Bleeding can also occur from systemic diseases, such as bleeding abnormalities from immune-mediated problems or toxins. Bleeding can appear as fresh blood or as small, pinpoint hemorrhages, also known as petechiae. All signs of bleeding are abnormal.
  • Inflamed. Inflamed gums are a common sign of dental disease, most commonly periodontal disease, which is also frequently referred to as “the silent killer.” Infected gum tissue is often red, swollen and inflamed. Other causes of inflammation can be from local infections, chemical burns, trauma, and infectious diseases.
  • Infected. Gum infections can result from underlying systemic disease or from local infections from bad teeth. Healthy gum color in dogs will be inconsistent with the presence of an infection.
  • Ulcered. Some dogs will have ulcers on the gums due to chemical burns, trauma, or infections. An ulcer will look like a raw, open abrasion with an uneven red surface. It may also have an odor.

How To Keep Gums Healthy

The best way to keep your dog’s gum tissue healthy is to feed them a high-quality dog food formulated to meet American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards. Provide consistent dental care that consists of daily brushing, and periodic dental cleanings by your veterinarian. There are also some dental treats, such as the OraVet chew, that can help prevent dental tartar.

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