Healthy vs. Unhealthy Dog Gums

Many health issues can be evident in your dog’s gums. Assessing whether your dog has healthy or unhealthy dog gums, and what the discoloration may mean, can inform you about the overall wellbeing of your beloved friend. Knowing what to look for and how to determine the health of your dog’s gum can help keep your dog healthy.

Here is how to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy dog gums.

Healthy Dog Gums

Healthy dog gums are salmon colored or a light bubble gum pink. They are moist and smooth to the touch. 

One way to check the health of your dog’s gums is to press a spot on their gums with your index finger. After you let go, within about two seconds, the color should change from a white or pale pink back to pink. If this is the case, your dog is healthy and shows no major health concerns.

Unhealthy Dog Gums

Unhealthy dog gums are a concern. Unhealthy dog gums can be dry and sticky, have an abnormal color to them or growths. They may also be bleeding and painful for your dog. Here are some possible health issues with each type of discoloration or growth on your dog’s gums.

Red Gums

Bright red or cherry-colored gums might bleed easily or be painful for your dog. Some reasons your dog’s gums may be red include:

  • Overheated or having a heat stroke
  • Infection
  • Toxicity or poisoning
  • Inflammation or gingivitis

White or Pale Pink Gums

If your dog is lacking red blood cells, his or her gums may turn a pale pink or white color; this could also indicate anemia which is a condition in which there is not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen into your body’s tissues. Anemia could be a symptom of an underlying disease or the result of a traumatic experience. So, your dog may have white or pale pink gums due to:

  • Blood loss
  •  Anemia (acute blood loss)
  •  Shock anxiety (or trauma)

Yellow Gums

Yellow dog gums often indicate jaundice, which is a condition where the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow. Some possible health concerns for your dog include:

  • Liver problems
  • Red blood cell damage

Blue or Purple Gums

Blue or purple gums could be a sign of cyanosis or another serious health issue. Cyanosis is when the skin turns blue due to poor blood circulation or lack of oxygen. The discolored gums could indicate heart or lung problems, as well as breathing issues. If your dog has blue or purple gums, it is advised you take them to the vet as soon as possible because they may be experiencing one of these serious issues:

  • Congestive heart failure (or heart disease)
  •  Respiratory problems
  • Blood clot in lung
  •  Pneumonia
  • Choking
  • Low blood pressure
  • Poor oxygen delivery


Growths on your dog’s gums are not always a cause of concern. Sometimes the growths are Epulides or benign oral tumors. 

Some growths can be cancerous or painful. In the case of growths, you should contact your vet right away. They can assist you with what next step you should take in order to help your dog heal.

Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Gums Healthy

Oral hygiene is important for your dog’s health. One way to keep your dog’s gums and teeth in good condition is by brushing their teeth using either a soft-bristled toothbrush or finger brush and dog-safe toothpaste. If you are unsure of which products to buy, you can purchase a doggy dental kit. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth can lessen the risk of potential infections or diseases that come with unhealthy teeth and gums.

If your dog isn’t too keen on the idea of having his or her teeth brushed, there are a few alternatives. You can give your dog natural bones, like rawhide or knucklebones, or a rubber toy to chew on. Both of these are great ways to remove plaque or food from their teeth, which will then keep their gums healthy. Also, you can give your dog a dental treat! Treats like dental sticks or dental chews are made to keep your dog’s teeth clean and freshen up their breath. 

We hope this information was helpful! In the case that you still have concerns about your pet’s health or would like to get more information, feel free to contact our team at Acoma Animal Clinic in Tucson. We understand how much your friend means to you and are here for you!

Recent Posts