As a dog owner, you probably know that your dog’s tongue and gums aren’t just for play. They’re useful indicators of your dog’s overall health. In fact, unlike humans, dogs don’t have other ways to cool themselves down besides panting, so their mouths all but act as thermostats.
Causes of Gums Turning Pale
There are many causes for pale gums. The first thing you should do is make sure your dog is healthy, which can be done by checking their temperature with a thermometer. A higher-than-normal temperature could indicate infection or internal bleeding.
How to Check Your Dog’s Gums
Before you can know if your dog is at risk for anemia, it’s important to know what a healthy dog’s gums look like.
- Healthy gums are pink and moist. They should not be white or gray, as that could indicate the presence of bacteria or other disease.
- If you gently touch the gum line with your finger, it should feel like skin on their lips—smooth and soft but not loose or flaky. A healthy dog will let you handle them without any signs of discomfort (even when they’re getting their teeth brushed).
What to Do If Your Dog’s Gums Turn Pale
When you see that your dog’s gums are pale, it’s important to take action. If they’re anemic or dehydrated, give them water and/or food. If they don’t get better quickly, call your veterinarian right away.
If you aren’t sure if your dog is anemic or dehydrated, check their other symptoms first: Are they lethargic? Are they eating less than normal? Do they have a fever?
Some dogs will lose their appetite when the condition strikes; others might start eating more than usual as their bodies try to compensate for the lack of oxygen in their blood stream. If this happens in conjunction with yellowing gums, it’s likely that your pet has jaundice due to liver problems—in which case a vet visit is definitely in order!
If you notice your dog’s gums are pale, and are not getting better, call the vet. If your dog has been vomiting (even if everything appears to have been vomited up), is lethargic, or isn’t eating or drinking; call the vet. If your dog has been vomiting and is not eating: call the vet!
If your dog’s gums turn pale, they may be anemic, which is a medical emergency. Anemia reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the organs and tissues in your pet’s body. This can lead to organ failure, weakness or even death if not treated quickly.
In the end, it’s all about staying aware. As with any part of their bodies, if you notice a change in your dog’s gums, be sure to take note of any accompanying symptoms and consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog is anemic, it’s an emergency that needs to be addressed right away. Acting fast can save their life!