White Gums In Dogs: What Does It Mean

White Gums In Dogs: What Does It Mean


When it comes to diagnosing your dog’s wellbeing, his gums can give you an instant look into his health. The gums show whether a dog has adequate blood flow. Overall health can instantly been determined with one look at the gums. They should always be pink or light red. These colors are a sign of good health. White gums, however, should be an instant alarm that something is very wrong. This article will discuss white gums and what they mean.

White Gums in Dog



What Do Normal Dog Gums Look Like?

You should be aware of what your dog’s gums normally look like. Gently lift the upper lip until you can see the gums. Normal gums should be pink or light red, indicating good blood flow and good health. Some dogs will have gums that are mottled with pigment (a reflection of their hair coat), but you should still be able to find pink spots for assessment. The gums should be moist and shiny from good hydration.

If you brush your dog’s teeth every day, you’ll know right away if there’s a problem as you’ll see the change in color. If you don’t, make an effort to check his gums regularly. The sooner you catch a health problem, the better chance for a good outcome for your dog. If you find your dog has white gums, this is a clear indication that something is very wrong. Call your veterinarian immediately. Never ignore white gums.


What Do White Gums Mean in Dogs 

Most often, when a dog has an issue with blood volume, his gums may be a pale pink or even white. This indicates anemia or an acute loss of blood. Many diseases can be an underlying cause of anemia, while trauma can cause severe, acute blood loss. If your dog has pale, white, or very pale pink gums, in most cases, this is an indicator of a severe condition. These are the most common causes of why your dog might have pale gums:

Anemia While anemia is a diagnosis, and a serious complication, it’s usually a result of another condition causing loss of red blood cells.

Autoimmune Disease This is when a dog’s immune system attacks and destroys its own cells. This happens when the immune system cannot distinguish good cells from bad cells. When this happens, the immune system can attack red blood cells and progress to anemia.

Bloat This happens when a dog’s stomach fills with food, fluid, or gas, and expands. Simple cases of bloat are uncomfortable but usually not life-threatening. But when it becomes gastric dilation-volvulus, when the stomach rotates and twists, it becomes life-threatening. The tissue starts dying, and constricted blood vessels cannot circulate blood throughout the body.

Blood Clotting Disorder Is a situation when blood is no longer coagulating normally and abnormal bleeding occurs. You may see blood in the dog’s urine or even bruises on his skin.

Cancer Several cancers, including bone marrow cancer, cause fewer blood cells.

Dehydration With dehydration, you would be more likely to see pale pink gums in the case of severe dehydration.

Heart Disease When a dog’s heart doesn’t properly pump blood, it will reflect in the gums because they aren’t getting a proper supply to keep them healthy.

Heavy Metal Poisoning This can lead to low red blood cell production and trigger anemia. There are many poisonous substances around the typical home that a dog could ingest. Heavy metal poisoning, like zinc, and lead, can be a source of pale gums. Another possible source is rat poison.

Internal Bleeding There are numerous causes for internal bleeding. Some possible reasons include, cancer, ulcers, being struck by a car, damage to the spleen, liver, or kidneys.

Kidney Disease Chronic renal failure causes the kidneys to produce less erythropoietin, which is a hormone responsible for the production of red blood cells in bone marrow. This leads to anemia.

Parasites A heavy intestinal parasite load, fleas, heart worms, and other parasitic infections can trigger anemia.

Shock No matter the reason for shock, blood may become concentrated in the most critical organs, leaving less blood flow to other body parts, including the gums. Common causes of shock are trauma, such as being hit by a car, anaphylactic reaction, loss of blood, dehydration (severe), poisoning, and sepsis.


What To Do If Your Dog Has White Gums

Contact your veterinarian immediately. You want to follow their advice to the letter. Don’t attempt home first aid unless your dog is bleeding from a laceration and isn’t an emergency situation. If you can stop the bleeding, do so if you won’t cause more pain, but don’t let it slow you down from getting your dog to the veterinarian’s office. White gums are always a sign that your dog has a serious condition.


Associated Symptoms

Note, any of these symptoms, even if your dog’s gums aren’t white, require an immediate consultation with your veterinarian as they are all serious.


  • Anorexia
  • Bleeding
  • Blood in diarrhea
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood in vomit
  • Collapse
  • Diarrhea
  • Easily winded
  • Increased heart rate
  • Labored breathing
  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness


How to Diagnose Pale Gums in Your Dog

Because so many conditions can cause pale gums, if the cause isn’t visually obvious, it may take several tests to make a diagnosis. Some of the tests your dog may need include:

  • Physical exam
  • Complete blood count
  • Chemistry blood panel
  • X-Rays
  • CT Scan

Once a diagnosis is made, your veterinarian will develop the best treatment plan for your dog’s situation.



Check your dog’s gums often and know what normal looks like for him. White gums are a sign of blood loss. And the conditions that are most likely to be the underlying cause are all serious. Pale gums are always a sign that something is seriously wrong. Do not ignore it, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will have to run diagnostics, perhaps several different tests, to find what is wrong and develop a treatment plan. The sooner you realize something is wrong with your dog, the more likely you’ll be successful in helping him. Checking his gums regularly is one easy way to keep an eye on his overall h