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Pale Gums in Dogs: What You Need to Know

By Jacquelyn Kennedy
Updated on

Did you know that the color of your dog’s gums could tell you a lot about your dog’s health?

I’m not kidding!

It’s easy to tell when a human’s sick; there are so many signs, like pale skin, tired eyes, etc.

In the same way, you can tell that your doggy is sick just by looking at some areas, like their gums!

In fact, a dog’s gums change color when he’s going through some illness.

They could turn various colors like reddish, yellow, blue, etc.

Today, we’ll talk about what pale gums in dogs mean, the causes of pale gums in dogs, etc.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

How To Examine Your Dog’s Gums The Right Way!

Before you panic about your dog’s pale gums and wonder about the pale gums in dogs’ symptoms, let’s talk about how we should examine your dog’s gums the right way!

This’ll surely save you a lot of worries!

Step 1: Check Your Doggy Friend’s Gums When He’s Healthy

Catch a hold of that furry ball of yours and lift up your doggy’s upper lip to reveal the gums.

Now, the ‘normal’ color of the gums depends on your dog’s breed, but usually, the normal color is between salmon pink to bubblegum in color.

In fact, some breeds will also have doggie black gums. It just depends!

Step 2: Make A Note of Your Dog’s Actual Gum Color

So, you’ve got your fingers in your dog’s mouth while he’s looking at you like you’re crazy…

You must be thinking about why you’re doing it!

Well, I’ll tell you.

You’re doing it so that you can ‘click’ a mental picture of your doggy’s healthy gum color so that you know there’s something wrong with your friend when the time comes.

Step 3: Hold Routine Checks

This ‘assessment’ shouldn’t be a one-time thing!

You should check your gums routinely, maybe about once or twice a month, to make sure that all is a-okay with your doggy friend!

After all, prevention is better than cure.

Blue, Red, Yellow, or Pale Gums In Dogs and What They Mean!

So, as I mentioned before, a dog’s gums can say a lot about the dog’s health.

Let’s go over what they all indicate, shall we?

Note that several things affect the color of your doggy friend’s gums, so make a point to see the veterinarian if you feel something is seriously wrong with your dog’s gums.

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Let’s talk reasons!

Color of GumsPossible Reasons
Cherry RedHeat stroke, exposure to toxins, carbon monoxide poisoning, high blood pressure
Slightly RedGingivitis, topical irritation (from chewing wood or a new toy), infection
Blue or PurpleTrouble breathing, lack of oxygen, pneumonia, choking, asthma, heart disease, low blood pressure, hypothermia
YellowLiver problems, destruction of red blood cells, anemia
PaleHeart problems, anemia, blood clotting disorder, kidney disease, internal bleeding, shock, rat poison, bloat, heavy metal poison, hypothermia, cancer

There’s an important thing to note.

If you see any abnormalities in your dog’s gums, visit the vet immediately, and they’ll know what to do.

Don’t procrastinate! This could be very harmful to your little doggy friend…

What Causes Pale Gums In Dogs?

Now that we know that pale gums in dogs are a red flag let’s talk about the things that can cause pale gums in dogs.

Let’s jump right in!

Pale gums in dogs

1. Kidney Disease / Chronic Renal Failure

You must be wondering what the kidney has to do with pale gums…

I’ll explain.

It could get a little technical, but bear with me!

So, kidneys produce a hormone in your doggy’s body called erythropoietin which basically tells the bone marrow to cook up some red blood cells.

This means that when the function of the kidney gets impaired somehow, lesser amounts of erythropoietin are made.

This makes your doggy anemic and develops those pale gums.

2. Internal Bleeding

This is a tricky one as it can be caused due to several factors.

Let’s go through a few of them, shall we?

  • Your dog could have been internally injured after a traumatic event, like getting hit by a car.
  • Stomach ulcers can also trigger internal bleeding. In this case, keep an eye out for your dog’s black, tarry stools.
  • Damage to the dog’s kidney, liver, or spleen.
  • Splenic mass could have ruptured and bled. In this case, look out for lethargy, collapse, and belly fluid.

3. Shock

If your dog’s body has been in shock, the blood could be concentrated in specific parts of your furry friend’s body.

What does this mean?

This means that blood flows to the important organs, like the heart, and not to extremities like your doggy’s gums.

In this case, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

4. Blood Clotting Disorders

Well, in some cases, the doggy’s blood doesn’t normally coagulate.

This means that your dog is predisposed to excessive or abnormal bleeding.

Thrombocytopathy and thrombocytopenia are some blood clotting disorders that cause pale gums in dogs.

5. Auto-immune Disease

This is a tricky one.

In this condition, your doggy’s immune system basically attacks itself.

Similar to Hemolytic anemia, where the immune system destroys the dog’s red blood cells, which can cause pale gums and anemia.

But get this diagnosed by your vet!

6. Bloating

If your dog has a distended and swollen abdomen and is stressed and vomiting, then this may be a case of bloating!

In this, your doggy friend may have white gums.

But why!?

Well, the pale gums appear in this case just because the stomach torsion basically stops the blood from returning to the heart from the lower body.

7. Heart Disease

Pale gums in dogs could be because of a heart problem.

This causes a drop in the doggy’s blood pressure and causes a variety of symptoms like:

  • coughing
  • rapid breathing
  • tiredness
  • pale gums
  • poor appetite
  • enlarged abdomen
  • weak pulse

Do get your doggy friend checked out by your vet to find the right course of treatment!

8. Parasite Infestation

Parasites can be found in doggies with many intestinal worms like hookworms.

But there’s a catch!

These can also be found in dogs that have severe flea infestation! Fleas can consume up to 15 times more of their own body weights!

This could cause parasitic anemia, and tick-borne diseases could also cause anemia.

9. Metal Toxicity

Heavy metal toxicity, like Zinc toxicity, could cause pale gums in dogs.

This is because Zinc basically interferes with iron absorption, which produces red blood cells. This triggers anemia.

The doggies affected can develop pale or yellow-colored gums. This also comes with the yellowing of the skin turning brown and an orangish tint to the urine.

This is a serious condition, as some doggies can even show early signs of acute kidney failure.

Go to your vet!

10. Rat poison

Did you know that rat poison could cause pale gums in dogs?

That’s because rat poison is known to contain warfarin, which is an anticoagulant. This anticoagulant causes the doggy to bleed profusely.

Keep the rat poison away!

11. Cancer

Some forms of cancer can cause a decrease in the production of red blood cells, which causes pale gums in dogs.

Pale gums in dogs

These are usually found in cancers that affect the spleen and the liver.

They also lead to internal bleeding in the abdomen.

Preventative Measures

Many serious medical issues require professional care. But as the old saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and this holds the same for your dog. Not literally, of course!

Simple items like routine exercise, keeping the floors and furniture clean, and avoiding food scraps can go a long way in helping prevent illnesses.

Even watching your pup’s food intake and maintaining a balanced diet can prevent iron deficiency, leading to anemia.

Other than that, keep your pup happy!

Pale Gums In Dogs: Key Takeaways

Your doggy’s gums can tell much about your friend’s health.

So, you should make a point to check them regularly to know that everything’s a-okay with your furry bundle of joy!

Gums can be of many colors, like red, yellow, purple, or pale, when your dog is sick. They all mean different things.

If you feel that your dog has pale gums, stop reading this article and call the vet to know what’s wrong!

I hope this article helped you figure out everything you need to know about pale gums in dogs.

If you still have any questions, my contact information is below. Please reach out, and I’ll be happy to answer!

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About the author

Jacquelyn Kennedy

PetDT was founded by Jacquelyn Kennedy, a dog lover and pet admirer. She built the website to provide pet owners with information, experiences, and opinions on breeds, temperament, personalities, health, nutrition, products, and care.

3 thoughts on “Pale Gums in Dogs: What You Need to Know”

  1. This definitely is something to worry about! Thank you for describing the colors and what they mean. I am sure to start looking at my dog’s gums differently from now.

    I knew about this from before but never have I found such a detailed guide. Loved the graphic too! 🙂

  2. Can pale gums be from low blood sugar. Her heart has checked out ok and she has normal bowls she had low sugar levels as a pup I have raised three miniature Aussie from 2 days old and had to watch there sugar level two have grown out of it. But one still at different dimes her gums turn more white are light pinkest white. I check them several times a day could she have sugar issues and needs to be on a certain type of food are meds. What levels should I ask a vet to trim to see

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