Unhealthy Dog Gum Color Chart (Black, White, Red, Blue)

The difference between healthy dog gums and unhealthy gums isn’t hard to spot. Healthy dog gums can be pink normally. Unhealthy dog gums could be less pink, or kind of blue, even white-looking. In this article, you will learn how to identify an unhealthy set of dog gums.

What color are dog's gums when sick?

What does the color of a dog’s gums mean?

Changes in gum color can signal a variety of different issues from dental problems to heart disease and more serious illnesses like liver failure or cancer. But before you panic about those changes in color, it’s important to understand exactly what they mean for your pet.

Blue gums in dogs

The most common cause of blue gums in dogs is cyanosis. Cyanosis is the condition where there is an insufficient amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. This causes the color of your dog’s gums to turn from pink to blue.

The most common causes of blue gums include:

  • heart failure
  • pneumonia
  • pulmonary thromboembolism (blood clots in the lungs)
  • trauma or bruising of the lungs
  • infections within the chest cavity (such as pyothorax)
  • abnormal fluid within the chest cavity (like chylothorax or hemothorax)
  • hypoventilation (not breathing enough air)
  • abnormal tissue or foreign material within the chest cavity or lungs (cancer, fungal infections)
  • heart abnormalities or defects (ventricular septal defect or Tetralogy of Fallot)
  • airway problems (tracheal collapse or laryngeal paralysis)
  • certain poisonings (Tylenol/acetaminophen)

Black gums in dogs

Black gums in dogs can be normal, but they may be a sign that something is wrong.

Some dogs have black gums as a result of their breed or individual genetics, but it’s not an issue unless the dog has other symptoms.

A healthy dog’s gums should be a rosy pink color, according to PetMD.com. If you notice changes in your pet’s gum color, consult your veterinarian for an exam and diagnosis.

Pale white gums in dogs

Pale gums are usually accompanied by other symptoms that can help you determine if there’s a medical problem involved. For example, if your dog has anemia he may have pale and white gums as well as pale eyes and tongue.

Pale gums in dogs can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:

  • anemia
  • shock
  • blood clotting disorders
  • internal bleeding
  • heart disease

If your dog’s gums appear pale and white, you should take him to the vet immediately.

Bright red gums in dogs

Gingivitis is a gum inflammation that can occur when plaque builds up on the teeth and irritates the gums. This condition is typically caused by poor dental hygiene and can lead to more serious problems if left untreated. If you notice bright red gums in your dog, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away!

Plaque is made up of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. The bacteria in plaque feed on these food particles and produce acids that irritate the gums around your dog’s teeth. If this irritation isn’t treated properly, it will cause inflammation which leads to redness and swelling of your dog’s gums.

To prevent your dog from developing gingivitis in the first place, you’ll need to remove plaque daily with a doggie toothbrush and special dog-friendly toothpaste. You should also take your dog for regular checkups at the vet’s office so that any early signs of inflammation can be treated before they become too serious.

What do anemic dog gums look like?

Anemic dog gums look pale pink or white. Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is one of the most common blood disorders in dogs.

The symptoms of anemia are fatigue, weakness, and pale gums. Pale gums can also be caused by other things that cause anemia, such as an infection, parasites, and internal bleeding. If you think your dog might have anemia, it is important to have them checked out by your vet right away.

How to treat red gums in dogs

Remove plaque and tartar deposits

Plaque is actually a layer of bacteria on your dog’s teeth. If left untreated, it will harden into tartar which is difficult to remove without professional tools. Plaque leads to gum disease and eventually tooth loss if not treated regularly. Plaque can be removed with regular brushing using a soft-bristled brush or gauze pad. Tartar deposits are harder to remove since they are mineralized plaque. They require special tools called scalers or periodontal curettes which vets use for scaling procedures.

Apply an antibiotic gel to those areas

If you notice redness around any of your dog’s teeth or gums and they don’t appear swollen or painful, apply an antibiotic gel directly onto those areas twice daily to help fight off infection until the redness disappears completely.

Conclusion of healthy vs unhealthy gums in dogs

When it comes to your dog’s health, the first place you look is at their gums. The color, texture, and moisture level of your dog’s gums are all important indicators of their overall health.

Healthy gums for dogs should be pink, firm, and elastic. There should be no bleeding when you press on the gums gently. They should also be moist without being overly wet or sticky.

If you notice any swelling or puffiness around your dog’s gums, this could be an indication that something is wrong — especially if accompanied by other symptoms like bad breath, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

If you notice any changes in your pet’s gums, it’s important to bring him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.


Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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