Our dog’s gums are probably the least of our concerns when it comes to their health. However, it’s actually one of the best indicators of how well and healthy they are! It’s also a good window of opportunity to have a headstart on treatments should your dog contract any diseases. 

What Do Pale Gums in Dogs Mean?

pale gums in dogs

Image From Jamie Street

When it comes to our health, most of us tend to get a little too cautious. We make sure our vital signs are on normal levels and that we’re not experiencing any complications in our bodies. However, when it comes to our dog’s health, our worry skyrockets. In some (or even most) cases, dog owners are way more conscious of their dog’s health than their own. So when you see anything out of the ordinary with your dog, you immediately seek out solutions to that problem. If you’re here reading this article, you most probably saw something unusual in your dog’s gums. Read on to learn more about what pale gums in dogs mean: 

What is the normal color of a dog’s gums?

pale gums in dogs

Image From Dimitri Houtteman

Generally, to check your dog’s well being, either look at the insides of their eyes or check the pigment on their gums. The colors that these methods show are good indicators of whether or not your dog is healthy.  Your dog’s gum should be salmon pink in color. To check, lift their jowl or their lips and take a close look at their gums. Press the ball of your finger on their gums. After two to three seconds, the color should get back to their normal pink color. 

Why are my dog’s gums pale?

pale gums in dogs

Image From Isabela Kronemberger

There are a number of causes behind the paleness of your dog’s gums, but the most common one is a condition called anemia. It’s not a disease, contrary to popular notions – it’s often just a symptom of a disease.  Being anemic means that there is a lack of hemoglobin and red blood cells in their bloodstream. Red blood cells act as the supplier of oxygen in our bodies. The protein inside those red blood cells is called the hemoglobin, which removes the carbon dioxide from their body. These two are made in your dog’s bone marrow and circulate for about three months before they break down and need to be replaced. 

Here is a list of some of the causes of anemia in dogs: 

  • diseases that cause blood loss
  • tick-borne diseases
  • infectious diseases such as canine distemper
  • blood loss from infestations of parasites such as fleas, whipworms, or hookworms
  • toxins such as rat poison or lead poison

Symptoms of anemia in dogs include: 

  • change in the normal pink color of gums; may appear pale pink to white when examined
  • little stamina or energy; they seem listless or tire more easily
  • weight loss
  • labored breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • faster heart rate
  • signs of blood loss (bloody nose, blood in the stool, urine, or vomit)

What do I do about pale gums in dogs?

pale gums in dogs

Image From Cassiano Psomas

As mentioned earlier, pale gums in dogs are most likely caused by the condition, anemia. Treatment for anemia in dogs varies depending on the type and cause of such conditions.  First, your dog’s veterinarian will have to run tests to assess if the anemia is severe enough to require a blood transfusion. Such tests will most likely include red blood cell count, tests for parasites, evaluations of the liver, kidney, and pancreatic functions, and more tests for further diagnosis.  After proper diagnosis by the veterinarian, they will make treatment plans that will directly address your dog’s disease. You should always stay in contact and consult with your dog’s veterinarian in regards to the best treatment for your dog. 

Is anemia in dogs life-threatening?

pale gums in dogs

Image From Mark Zamora

Anemia is a condition, not the disease. However, it may still be a cause or symptom of an underlying illness that may be life-threatening. Such diseases could range from infectious disease and autoimmune conditions to trauma and dangerous toxins.  Most of the diseases, with anemia as its symptom, prove to be life-threatening, so you should treat anemia with seriousness. It may not be a disease, but it’s a good indicator of other life-threatening diseases.

Consult with your veterinarian immediately if you see pale gums in dogs. They will give you further instructions as to the next steps you should take to deal with this condition.