The Sick Dog Blog

Is My Dog Sick?

What Does it Mean if My Dog’s Gums Are Pale?

February 26, 2009 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Dog Illnesses and Diseases, Dog Symptoms, General Dog Health

Check a dog's gums to determine if your pet has symptoms of illness. (Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo Photo)

This article will answer questions like, “Why are my dog’s gums pale?” ”What does it mean if a dog’s gums are discolored or pale?” ”Why does my dog have dark patches on his lips and tongue?” and “Why are my dog’s gums dry and sticky?”

For the dog owner who is wondering, “Is my dog sick?” it’s best to start by checking the dog’s gums.

When you check a dog’s gums, you’ll want to check the gum color and appearance/feel of the dog’s gums. Here’s a guide to what it means if a dog’s gums are pale or discolored.

A dog with abnormal gums may be suffering from one of many health problems.

What Does it Mean if My Dog’s Gums Are Pale?

Pale gums can indicate two basic problems. Pale gums in a dog can occur due to a lack of red blood cells from anemia. Anemia can occur in dogs as a  symptom of a larger problem.

A dog with low blood pressure will also have pale gums. A dog may have low blood pressure from internal bleeding, cardiac problems, and a wide array of illnesses and diseases.

What Does it Mean if My Dog’s Gums are Brick Red?

Brick red gums in a dog suggests an abundance of red blood cells and increased circulation. A dog with brick red gums is often suffering from heat stroke or another condition that causes the dog’s blood to circulate near the surface of the skin.

What Does it Mean if My Dog’s Gums are Blue or Grey?

A dog with greyish or blue gums is suffering from a lack of oxygen in the blood, a condition called cyanosis.  This means the dog is not getting enough oxygen into his blood stream. This improper oxygenation of the dog’s blood is called hypoxia.

A cyanotic dog may be suffering from a lung disease or condition that creates hypoxia. A dog who is choking or who has an object obstructing his airway will  become cyanotic, with blue gums. A dog suffering from a lung infection can become hypoxic, because fluid in the lungs will prevent the lungs from transferring oxygen into the dog’s blood stream.

Why Are My Dog’s Gums Yellow?

Yellow gums in a dog indicate jaundice, a condition that occurs when an excess of bilirubin accumulates in the dog’s blood. The whites of the dog’s eyes also turn yellow in a dog with jaundice. Jaundice in dogs is most often the result of liver failure or a bile duct blockage.

Why Are My Dog’s Gums Dry and Sticky?

A dog’s gums should normally be slick and wet to the touch. If the dog’s gums are dry and sticky, this indicates dehydration. A dog with dehydration is suffering from a lack of fluids in the body.

For more information on dehydration in dogs, read Causes and Cures for Dehydration in Dogs.

To learn more about how to check a dog’s gums, read The Sick Dog Blog’s article How Do I Check My Dog’s Gums?

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