Gum colours explained

Your dog might appear to be as happy as can be – smiling at you and wagging his tail – and you would never guess that anything is wrong. However, animals have a natural instinct to hide any weakness or illness, so it is our responsibility to regularly do health checks and make sure that our furkids are in good health. One of the vital checks is your dog’s gums – the colour of his gums can tell you a lot about his wellbeing.

Regular checks

Get your dog used to his mouth being touched from an early age, so that it’s less stressful and uncomfortable for him. And, if you brush his teeth regularly, he should happily allow you to check his gums and teeth.

Healthy gums

If you check your dog’s gums regularly, you should notice immediately if the colour of his gums has changed. Healthy gums are usually a bubble-gum pink and shouldn’t be swollen. To check that they are not swollen, press on his gums – if they turn white but, within about two seconds, return to the normal colour, they are fine. If your dog is used to your touch, he won’t flinch when you press his gums – another indicator that his gums are healthy.

Swollen gums

Your dog’s gums may swell from time to time, just like a human’s – this is normal. Harmless swelling usually only occurs in one section of the gum, and not the entire gum. However, if the swelling lasts for more than a day or two and the gums are a different colour, or if your dog shows other symptoms, it is best to take him to the vet to have it checked out.

Blue or purple gums

Gums that have turned blue or purple are a sign that your dog has a lack of oxygen in his blood. He might be having trouble breathing. This could be indicative of heart disease, asthma or low blood pressure, or he might be choking. Take your dog to the vet immediately, especially if he is struggling to breath.

Light red gums

If your dog’s gums are slightly red, it could be due to gingivitis or an infection. It could also be because your dog chewed a hard object, like a certain toy, which caused the gums to become inflamed. A visit to the vet is recommended, to prevent any further damage to your dog’s gums or teeth.

Bright red gums

Gums that are bright red could be an indication of heatstroke, carbon monoxide poisoning or high blood pressure. Take your dog to the vet immediately.

Pale or white gums

If your dog’s gums are very pale and almost white, it could be a sign of a serious health issue. He could be suffering from heart problems, kidney disease or hypothermia. Pale gums could also indicate anaemia, internal bleeding, shock or poisoning (for example, having ingested rat poison or due to heavy metal poisoning). Don’t wait to see if your dog’s gums turn red again – take him to the vet as soon as possible!

Yellowish gums

Yellow gums could be a sign that your dog is suffering from jaundice or has a liver problem. You need to take your dog to the vet for treatment as soon as possible.

In conclusion

Never take chances with your dog’s health and, if you see a discolouration of his gums, rather take him to the vet as soon as possible. It could be something minor, but it could also be a symptom indicating a serious problem. Remember to give your vet as much information as possible, as this will help him to diagnose your dog.

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