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How to Check a Dog’s Gums – Checking a Dog’s Capillary Refill Time (CRT)

January 27, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Capillary Refill Time in Dogs, Dog Symptoms, General Dog Health, How to Check a Dog's Capillary Refill Time, How to Check a Dog's Gums

Wondering how to tell if a dog is sick? Check the dog's capillary refill time. Pet owners can do this while checking dog's gum color. (Philip MacKenzie Photo)

Wondering, “Is my dog sick?” Checking the dog’s capillary refill time (CRT) is one way to tell if a dog is sick. Pet owners can check a pet’s capillary refill time when checking the dog’s gum color.

Capillaries are tiny blood vessels situated near the skin’s surface. When you press on the skin, the capillaries momentarily empty; measuring a dog’s capillary refill time can be used to determine if a dog is sick.

A dog with a slow capillary refill time may have low blood pressure, a low heart rate and this can be indicative of a dog’s heart problem and illnesses/conditions affecting the dog’s circulatory system. Slow capillary refill time may also be observed in a dog who’s going into shock.



How to Check a Dog’s Capillary Refill Time

Here’s how to check capillary refill time on a dog’s gums:

  1. Press your finger onto the dog’s gums with a good amount of pressure for 5 seconds.
  2. Release your finger – the spot where you applied pressure should be significantly paler than the surrounding skin. If it’s not, then this indicates very pale gums and low blood pressure – this is a veterinary emergency and the dog will need to be transported to the veterinary clinic immediately.
  3. If the spot where you applied pressure is paler than the surrounding skin, this is a good sign. Repeat step 1.
  4. Release your finger after applying pressure for 5 seconds and immediately start counting (one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, and so on). Count until the the spot has returned to normal color; the same color as the surrounding skin.
  5. Normal capillary refill time in a dog or cat is 1.5 seconds. If it takes longer, this indicates a serious medical problem like shock. The longer it takes for the capillaries to refill (and the skin to returns to its normal color) the more serious the pet’s condition.

How to Check a Dog’s Gums, Photos of Pale Dog Gums and Photos of Healthy Dog Gums

Pet owners should also assess the check the dog’s gum color. To learn more, see The Sick Dog Blog’s related articles, including  how to check a dog’s gums, how to check a dog’s gums if he has black gums, and what it means if a dog’s gums are pale, brick red, blue, etc.

Dog owners may also want to check out The Sick Dog Blog’s article with photos of normal dog gums and photos of pale dog gums.

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Black Dog Gums – Photos of Pale Dog Gums and Normal Dog Gums Photos

January 26, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Dog Symptoms, General Dog Health, How to Check a Dog's Gums, Pale Gums in a Dog

Wondering how to check a dog's gums? What does it mean if a dog has black gums? Read on to learn more and see pale dog gums photos and photos of healthy dog gums. This dog's gums look pink and normal. (Mkadri Photo

Does your dog have black gums? Some dogs have patches of black pigmented skin, including on their gums. This can be shocking for a dog owner who’s trying to check a dog’s gums. (This is why it’s important to check a dog’s gums when he’s healthy, so you know what the dog’s healthy gums look like.)

Why Are My Dog’s Gums Black?

Black skin pigmentation is totally normal in dogs; it’s just a variation of pigment, just like a freckle on a human.

When discussing a wound, black skin can indicate necrosis — tissue death — which is a potentially deadly problem associated with a serious infection. So if your dog has black skin around a wound, this is cause for concern. But in healthy skin, black spots are not a cause for concern.

Black gums can make it difficult to check a dog’s gums. To check the dog’s gums, you’ll need to look for a pink patch of skin. Here is a photo of pale gums in a dog with black skin pigmentation.

That is a great photo example of pale gums in a dog with black gums; according to the website where this photo is posted, the dog ate rat poison and exhibited serious life-threatening symptoms due to that incident, including shock.

Compare that image to photo of healthy dog gums. Here is a photo of healthy gums in a dog with patches of black skin pigmentation.



How to Check a Dog’s Gums – Black Gums

In a few dogs, there will not be any areas of pink gum to examine. This can be due to spontaneous black skin pigmentation or it may be due to the dog’s breed. For instance, a Chow Chow’s gums and tongue will be blue-black color.

For these dogs, there is no effective way to check the dog’s gum color. Instead, you will need to rely on other symptoms of illness like the dog’s temperature, the presence of shivering, or a dog’s refusal to eat. An owner knows his dog better than anyone, so if he suspects that the dog is sick, he’s usually right!

What Does it Mean if a Dog Has Pale Gums?

If a dog has pale gums, this is a sign of a medical emergency. Pale gums can be a sign of low blood pressure, a lack of red blood cells, poor oxygenation of the blood and other serious medical problems like shock.

Check out The Sick Dog Blog’s related articles to see more photos of dog gums, including pale dog gums and normal dog gums photos. Pet owners can also learn more about how to check a dog’s gums and what it means if a dog’s gums are pale, brick red, blue, etc.

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