White Gums In Dogs – Everything To Know

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 12/25/21 •  6 min read
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White Gums In Dogs

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Have you ever taken a look at your dog’s gums? That may seem like a strange question; however, this is something a pet parent should do on a regular basis. That’s because the color of your dog’s gums can indicate whether or not he has a health problem.

Did you know a dog’s gums can become white or pale? What does it mean if a dog’s gums turn white? If you’re not sure or don’t know, then read on to learn more about what white gums in a dog may be!

What Does a Healthy Dog’s Gums Look Like?

When dogs are healthy, their gums have a nice pink or salmon color. The gums have a pink color due to all the small blood vessels that lie just under the surface. A healthy dog’s gums will also be moist and shiny, which indicate your dog is staying hydrated and his circulation is good (blood flow is good).

Some dogs do have mottled gums, which means they have dark spots on their gums. This isn’t anything to worry about and can be completely normal for some dogs (especially in certain dog breeds).

How Should You Check Your Dog’s Gums?

It’s best to start checking your dog’s gums when he is young. They soon become used to the process. However, it’s not impossible to begin checking an older dog’s gums.

All you need to do is gently lift your dog’s upper lip and then pull down the lower lip to check his gums. They should be nice and pink.

After checking the color, then touch your dog’s gums to see if they are moist. They should be moist and shiny, not tacky or sticky. If his gums are tacky or sticky, this means your dog is hydrated.

It’s a good idea to check your dog’s gums about twice a month or when you brush his teeth. Dogs do well to have their teeth brushed at least a few times a week. This is the perfect time to check your dog’s gums, too.

If you find your dog has pale or white gums, then it’s time to call the vet. This could be caused if your dog doesn’t drink enough water or if his circulation is off for some reason. No matter what you believe the cause to be, it’s best to have white or pale gums in dogs evaluated by a vet.

What Causes White or Pale Gums in Dogs?

Pale or white gums can be an indication of several different medical problems, including:

Internal bleeding: if a dog is bleeding internally, he may develop bloody stools and develop white or pale gums. The internal bleeding may be caused by trauma or injury, ulcers, or a hemorrhage.

Chemicals or toxins: some toxins and poisons can cause white gums in dogs. These toxins and poisons can include rodenticides, which contain an anticoagulant. When ingested, the poison leads to internal bleeding.

Autoimmune disease: dogs, just like us, can develop autoimmune diseases. A disease called hemolytic anemia can cause a loss of red blood cells in the dog’s body. Dogs with this health issue may have an abnormal immune system that attacks their own body. This particular condition works to destroy healthy red blood cells, leading the dog to become anemic.

Tumors: whether a tumor is benign or malignant, it may cause bleeding. As the tumor grows, it can lead to worsened bleeding. This may cause internal bleeding that leads a dog to develop pale or white gums.

Blood clotting problems: dogs can also develop blood clotting diseases, such as hemophilia, coagulopathy, protein deficiencies, and more. Each of these conditions causes anemia, which leads to pale or white gums in dogs.

Kidney disease: when the kidneys develop a problem, it can lead to anemia and pale/white gums in dogs. When kidneys are not functioning as they should, they stop producing a substance called erythropoietin. This is a hormone, which works to make the bone marrow create red blood cells. When the number of red blood cells falls, the dog may develop anemia.

Parasites: are always a bad thing for dogs. They can feed off a dog’s blood, which keeps your dog from getting the oxygen and nutrients his body needs to stay healthy. For instance, a bad flea or tick problem can cause white or pale gums in dogs. This is because the pests are taking blood out of your dog’s body, leading to anemia. Other types of parasites, such as roundworms (and other types of worms), can also cause anemia in dogs.

Heart disease: dogs who have heart disease may have white or pale gums. This is because their heart is not able to pump blood properly around their body.

Cancer: is another disease that can affect the dog’s bone marrow and lead to anemia.  

What Should I Do About My Dog’s Pale or White Gums?

The first thing to do is call the vet. If your dog has developed pale or white gums, this is an indication that he’s developed a health issue. Only the vet can provide the right diagnosis and treat this type of symptom.

If your dog has developed pale or white gums, don’t wait to see if this condition will improve. In most cases, pale or white gums will not improve. In the meantime, your dog’s condition could deteriorate very quickly.

Let your veterinarian determine what’s causing the pale or white gums in your dog. It may not be a serious condition, but it will still need to be diagnosed and treated by the vet.

Treatment of pale or white gums in your dog will depend on the vet’s diagnosis. Once the vet has determined the cause, it’s important to follow all the vet’s instructions on how to help your dog feel better. This means ensuring your dog receives the necessary prescription medications and/or supplements and anything else the vet says is necessary to help your dog.

If your dog has white or pale gums, then don’t delay calling the vet. You may save your dog’s life!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.