If you have a pet, you probably worry about their well-being all the time. Most dog owners are aware of the common things to look out for if their dog seems not to be feeling well, like a loss of appetite, stopping drinking, or even just lying around too much.
Another key sign that something is wrong with your dog’s health can be pale gums. Not every owner knows to look for this symptom or what it might mean. Plus, how do you know what color your dog’s gums should be or assess if they are paler than they should be? This is important information to know because pale gums in dogs can be a sign that your pet is sick and needs to see the vet right away.
What Color Should My Dog’s Gums Be?
Your dog’s gums should be light pink in color. You should also be able to see a good capillary refill if you press gently on the gums. The little white spot from your finger should flush pink again within a second or so if your dog is healthy.
Pale gums might look grey or even light blue. Your dog will also have a poor capillary response if their gums are pale like this. You might not even be able to tell that you have made a fingerprint in their gums if their gums are very pale.
This is a sign of serious problems, and you should not hesitate to take your dog right to the veterinarian if they have pale gums. Usually, this is not going to be the only sign that something is wrong with your dog’s health, but it is always worth it to check on this part of your dog’s symptoms more closely. Your vet will want to know that your dog is showing this symptom since this can indicate a life-threatening condition.
What Causes Pale Gums in Dogs?
Your dog’s gums might be pale for a variety of reasons. This is often a very serious symptom and an indication that something very serious is wrong with your pet. Even if your dog is acting otherwise normal, if you notice that their gums are pale, you should rush them right to the vet.
1. Heart Problems
When dogs have heart problems, this can cause them to have a lack of circulation throughout their body. This can lead to pale gums and a loss of energy, as well as breathing hard and panting all the time. Heart problems can run the gamut from not that serious to very serious. Your vet will need to see your dog right away if you see any combination of these symptoms.
If your dog does not have a visible wound, but their gums are very pale, it might be suffering from internal bleeding. It is not uncommon for dogs to run off and come back with pale gums and weakness or loss of coordination due to an injury. Sometimes a fall or a fight with another animal can lead to internal bleeding. Your pet will need to see the vet right away for emergency surgery in most of these cases.
If your dog has been vomiting or has had severe diarrhea, it might also have pale gums. This can be a sign that your dog has gotten into something toxic. You will need to take your dog to the vet right away to be sure that you address their possible poisoning right away. Severe dehydration related to vomiting and diarrhea can also cause pale gums, but your vet will need to be involved to be sure that your dog has not started feeling sick due to a toxin.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition, and if your dog has been playing outside in the heat or has been out running with you when it is hot, they could be at risk for this health concern. Dogs that have been left outside without enough water in the heat can also suffer from heatstroke. Heatstroke can cause pale, sticky gums, excessive drooling, vomiting, and even collapse. Make sure that you get your overheated dog to the vet right away. Many dogs only have about a half hour to get to the vet before their heatstroke might take their life.
What if My Dog Won’t Let Me Look at Their Mouth?
Some dogs are not fans of having their mouth played with. You will want to be sure that you teach your dog to allow this, however. There are many reasons that you might need to be able to access your dog’s mouth when they need your help. From looking at their gums to retrieving something that is stuck in their mouth to being able to provide them with dental care, you need to be sure that you can access your dog’s mouth when you need to.
Pale Gums Are Often a Sign of Serious Health Issues
If your dog has pale gums, there are lots of reasons that this could be the case, but all of them are serious. You will want to be sure that you call your vet and ask them if you can get your dog in right away if they have pale gums. Many of the conditions that are associated with pale gums require immediate treatment at the emergency vet.
Be sure that you take the time to teach your dog to have their mouth handled so that they do not hide this symptom from you. You need to be able to look at your dog’s gums once in a while to check your dog’s health, and your vet will thank you for taking the time to teach your pet to have their mouth handled as well. If you have a dog that has real issues with having their mouth handled, consider working with a dog trainer to resolve this issue. Being able to look for pale gums can save your dog’s life, so you need to be able to teach your pet to allow this.