Why Dogs Get Pale Gums and What to Do About It

What does it mean when a dog has pale gums? What should you do it if your dog has pale gums? First, learn what your dog's gums normally look like so you can determine when they look too pale.

What Are Pale Gums in Dogs?

Pale gums in dogs are a sign of one or more underlying problems. Normal gums in a dog should have a pink color. Depending on the specific dog, this color usually ranges from a soft pink to bright pink. Normal pigmentation can cause some of the gums to appear black, so look for lighter spots on the gums or the area under the tongue to try and find the non-pigment areas. These should be pink and moist. If you press your finger on a pink area of the gums, the spot should turn white and return to pink within about a second.

If you notice that your dog's gums are pale pink or white in areas that are normally pink, this is something that should be addressed immediately. You may also notice that the mucous membranes of the eyelids are pale. If your dog normally has a pinkish nose and/or tongue, then you may find that they appear pale as well.

Causes of Pale Gums in Dogs

There are a number of urgent health concerns that can cause pale gums in dogs.

Diseases Causing Anemia

Pale gums are often a sign of anemia in dogs. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red blood cells circulating in the blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues of the body. If there are not enough red blood cells, then the body’s cells become deprived of oxygen and may die.

Anemia is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of illness. It may be caused by a condition that damages red blood cells or impedes the production of red blood cells. Examples include kidney disease, immune-mediated disorders, infectious disease, and parasite infection. Certain medications and toxins can damage blood cells or prevent their production.

The following conditions are associated with anemia: Blood Loss, Hemolysis, Decreased Red Blood Cell Production, and Shock.

Blood Loss

If the dog is losing blood from somewhere in the body, then there is not enough blood to circulate through the body and the dog develops anemia. Blood flow to the mucous membranes decreases, causing them to have a pale appearance. This is most easily observed in the gums.

Blood loss may be caused by an external or internal injury. Trauma is a common cause of blood loss in dogs. Certain disease processes may also cause blood loss in dogs.

Dogs with bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract may be reacting to a medication or experiencing a GI illness. Obvious blood may appear in the stool or in vomit. Digested blood will make the stool appear black and tarry.


Lysis, or damage to red blood cells can also cause anemia. Hemolysis can occur as a result of autoimmune disease (autoimmune hemolytic anemia), due to blood parasites (babesiosis), as a result of exposure to chemical or toxins (zinc, rat poison, snake venom, onion, or garlic), or due to cancer.

Decreased Red Blood Cell Production

As a result of chronic diseases of the bone marrow, kidneys or liver, a dog may not produce adequate amounts of red blood cells. Additionally, decreased red blood cell production can be associated with poor nutrition/nutritional imbalances, autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, exposure to chemicals or toxins, and cancer.


Shock causes a sudden drop in blood flow throughout the body, leading to organ and tissue damage. It may be caused by a disease process or trauma. Shock is a serious emergency condition and should be addressed by a veterinarian immediately.

What to Do if Your Dog Has Pale Gums

If you notice your dog has pale gums, look for other signs of illness and check for bleeding injuries. If your dog is acting otherwise normal, then you should contact your veterinarian for advice.

If your dog is exhibiting other signs along with pale gums, then you should get to your veterinarian right away. If it happens when your vet is closed, then you should contact the nearest open emergency veterinarian.

Treatment for Pale Gums in Dogs

The treatment for a dog with pale gums depends upon the underlying cause. Your vet will begin with an examination and discuss your dog's signs. Blood tests will be needed to check blood cell counts (including red blood cells) and to assess organ function. In some cases, the dog will need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment and supportive care.

If the pale gums are caused by blood loss, then the dog may need a blood transfusion to replace the lost blood.

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Medications and/or surgery may be needed to treat the main cause of blood loss. In cases where the red blood cells are being destroyed or not being properly created, then long term medications may be needed.

— Update: 06-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Pale Gums in Dogs: What Does it Mean? from the website evcc.com for the keyword dog white gums not eating.

In dogs, their gums should be a powdery pink color. This color is a sign of healthy gums. However, if the gums are not pink, they may be pale in color, which could mean that your dog has some underlying health problems. These troubles range from pain and anxiety to kidney disease.

Dog white gums not eating

Read on to gain some insight into this condition of your canine’s teeth and gums.

What are the Possible Colors of Dog’s Gums?

Before learning about the causes of how dogs can get pale gums, it’s important to know about the different kinds of colors your dog’s gums can be and what they mean.

The different colors your dog’s gums can be that could indicate a medical problem include:

Pale or White

Pale or White Gums mean that your dog could be suffering from anemia, shock, blood clotting disorders, internal bleeding, or heart disease.

Light Red

Light red gums could signify that your dog has an infection, gingivitis, or other oral problems.

Cherry Red

Cherry Red Gums may mean that your dog has been exposed to toxins or other common poisons for dogs. This could also happen if they have carbon monoxide poisoning, heatstroke, or high blood pressure.


Yellow gums demonstrate anemia, liver problems, damage to red blood cells.

Blue or Purple

Blue or Purple gums suggest your dog may have difficulty breathing, pneumonia, hypothermia, low blood pressure, or heart disease.

What are the Causes of Pale Gums in Dogs?

Below are 11 potential causes for why a dog has pale gums:


Anemia is a diminished amount of circulating red cells and hemoglobin. Red cells deliver oxygen to the body. The dog’s body will suffer due to a lack of oxygen when the red blood cell count is low, which can lead to pale gums.

Aside from pale gums, some signs of anemia include extreme tiredness and low energy. Another sign of anemia is poor appetite.

Blood Loss

Blood loss could be caused by many different things, including trauma or a severe parasite infestation from fleas, ticks, or hookworm. Therefore, blood loss should always be taken seriously.


Shock is a response to a sudden, severe injury that could facilitate internal bleeding and death.

Blood Clotting Disorders

Blood clotting disorders could mean that a dog is not able to coagulate blood properly throughout the body, causing their gums to turn pale.

Kidney Disease

This illness could stem from chronic renal failure. As a result, your dog may be dehydrated, incontinent, lethargic, or vomiting.


Bloat is incredibly serious, and it can kill your dog if it goes untreated for too long. In addition, your dog will typically present with a large abdomen.

Rat Poison

Ingestion involves internal bleeding and can cause your dog to get a nose bleed due to warfarin. Along with pale gums, your dog may have trouble breathing, coughing, black stools, and vomiting.

Heart Disease

This illness can give your dog rapid breathing, coughing, a weak pulse, and an enlarged abdomen.


Certain types of cancer can lead to pale gums in dogs, such as bone marrow cancer.

Parasite Infections

External parasites such as fleas and lice and hookworms suck the blood of your furry friend. If there is a significant infestation, it can result in having not enough red blood cells.

Pain or Anxiety

Stress can negatively affect dogs and put them in a fight or flight stage, inciting pale gums.

How to Check Your Dog’s Gums to See if They’re Pale

You should routinely check your dog’s gums to make sure there are no potential health risks and to make sure they’re the proper, healthy color.

Below are steps to take for how you can check to see if your dog has pale gums:

Gently Pull the Upper and Lower Lip

Gently pull the upper lip up and pull down the lower lip to see your dog’s gum color. If they are healthy, the color of their gums should be pink.

Check How Their Gums Feel

After this, touch your dog’s gums to determine if they feel moist. If the gums are sticky, then your dog may be dehydrated.

You should check your dog’s gums at least once or twice a month. It is ideal to check the gums every time you brush their teeth, which you should make a habit of doing a few times a week.

What to Do if Your Dog’s Gums are Pale

If your dog has pale gums, you must get him to the vet immediately to be on the safe side. Pale gums in dogs are often an indicator of illness or disease.

If your dog is visibly sick, you should seek emergency vet care. The main goal is to get your dog treated as quickly as you can.

Seek Immediate Veterinary Care

Your vet will complete a thorough physical exam and run a few tests to determine the cause of the problem. When your vet gets to the root of the issue, they will devise a treatment plan for your dog. Treatment will restore your pup’s gums to a healthy pink color.

Treatment for unhealthy gums in dogs can range from a thorough cleaning of the plaque and tartar on the teeth to surgery or tooth extraction, and it all depends on the cause.

Long-term medication may also be necessary if your dog’s red blood cells are damaged and not producing the way they should.

Contact Us About Your Dog’s Pale Gums

Your dog’s health should be a major priority. Dog owners should take the appropriate measures to keep their pup’s gums in decent shape. If there appears to be something amiss, do not hesitate to pay a visit to your vet or an emergency vet.

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At Emergency Veterinary Care Centers, our team knows how serious pale gums in dogs are. Just like you, we want your pet to live a long, healthy and happy life with you, which is why making sure your pet gets back to optimal health is always our top priority. Contact us at our Highland, Westville or Mishawaka locations for high quality, immediate care for your dog, no matter the time of day.

— Update: 08-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Has Pale Gums in Pewaukee, WI from the website pewaukeeveterinaryservice.com for the keyword dog white gums not eating.

Dog white gums not eating

Dogs are great companions and pets. They are loving animals that require a lot of attention and physical activity. There are many things that pet owners may not notice when it comes to changes in their dog. One of the most commonly missed things is the color of your dog’s gums. Your dog’s gums should be a vivid pink; if they are pale, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

To prevent and treat these conditions quickly, you need first to understand them. Continue reading our Pewaukee, WI, animal hospital’s blog to learn more.

Reasons Why Your Dog Has Pale Gums

1.    Anemia

Did you know that one of the reasons a dog’s gums are a reddish pink is because of blood flow? If your dog is not receiving enough blood throughout its body, it could lower the color of its gums to pale pink.

This may be because of anemia. Dogs with anemia experience a low red blood cell count. Usually, it is because of an entirely different condition. However, pale gums are not the only symptom. If your dog is also weak, exhausted, and frail, it could be because they have anemia as a result of an underlying condition.

2.    Parasites in Your Dog

Some dogs can carry parasites throughout their body, which causes nutrients and vitamin deficiency. Since many parasites feed off of a dog’s blood, it could result in a pale pink color on your dog’s gums.

Rarely do parasites go away on their own. Instead, it is more common for vets to prescribe oral medication to get rid of the parasites. You may notice worms or small bugs wiggling in your dog’s feces or urine, which are small parasites.

3.    Heart Disease

Although rare and only common in older dogs, if you have a pet with underlying heart disease or a condition, it may result in a pale pink color around their gums. This is because when dogs have heart conditions, less blood and oxygen flow throughout their body.

This is serious and requires medical attention. Some heart diseases are preventable and treatable. However, they can lead to heart attacks and strokes, which are fatal.

4.    Severe Blood Loss

There are many things that can cause severe blood loss in a dog. Since blood flow is the main reason that a dog’s gums are a healthy reddish-pink, if they lose too many red blood cells, the color will decrease in intensity.

Most of the time, severe blood loss is because of trauma that causes an open wound. If your dog has an open wound, you may notice it immediately. You should go to the urgent care or an emergency vet to provide care. If not, it can be fatal.

5.    Consuming Rat Poison

If your dog accidentally consumes rat poison, pale gums is a sign of it. However, pale gums are something that your dog should not worry about. Instead, if they do consume this poison, they may have a seizure and suffer from internal bleeding.

We recommend bringing your dog immediately to a vet to treat them of their conditions as it can cause severe issues, sometimes leading to death.

6.    Heavy Metal Toxicity

Dogs are not picky eaters. It is not uncommon for puppies to eat whatever they find on the floor as a curiosity. However adorable and silly as this behavior is, it can also be fatal. Since many metals have toxins that reduce oxygen and blood flow, your dog may suffer from Heavy Metal Toxicity.

This is especially common in dogs that accidentally consume nails and coins. Not only will you notice that your dog’s gums are pale, but that they are also suffering from lethargy, vomiting, and anemia.

7.    Cancer

Pale gums could be a sign that your dog has a form of cancer that reduces red blood cells or oxygen. The most common type of cancer that has pale gums as a symptom is bone marrow cancer.

This is usually an early sign. However, it goes unnoticed. To treat your dog and catch this condition quickly, check your dog’s gums at least once a month and ask your vet any questions necessary.

8.    Fight or Flight Responses

Did you know that stress and anxiety can also cause your dog’s gums to reduce in color and become pale pink? When your dog is stressed and in a situation that is new, it is not uncommon for them to go into a ‘fight or flight response. Once this occurs, your dog’s body may become rigid, and if they are tense enough, their gums will be pale pink.

9.    Kidney Disease

Pale gums can also be a sign that your dog’s kidneys are beginning to shut down. When this disease occurs, your dog is not getting enough oxygen, which is extremely dangerous. Not only is it dangerous, but it leads to symptoms and signs like pale pink gums.

Our Pewaukee, WI, Veterinarians Can Check for Pale Gums on Your Dog

Overall, dogs are healthy pets that provide comfort, love, and trust. They are adorable additions to any family but also require a lot of care and treatment. You should conduct monthly gum and teeth checks, as your dog’s gums can surprisingly say a lot about their health.

We will also be sure to examine your dog’s gums during their regular exams, and if you feel your dog could be suffering from any issues we mentioned above, please reach out to our Pewaukee, WI, animal hospital by calling (262) 347-0787.

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— Update: 13-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Why Does My Dog Have Pale Gums? from the website veterinaryemergencygroup.com for the keyword dog white gums not eating.

Have you noticed your dog has pale gums? Are you concerned about what this could mean? Pale gums aren’t normal in dogs, but some of the causes are more serious than others. As a dog owner, it’s important to recognize when there’s something wrong with your pet and know what to do about it, too.

Causes of Pale Gums in Dogs

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of pale gums in dogs. Starting from the least concerning and going to the most troubling, we’ll help you learn which causes might be leading to this problem in your pet. In any case, pale gums warrant a check-up by a veterinarian to help determine the cause.

6 common causes of pale gums in dogs include:

Severe Fleas

In some cases of very severe flea infestation, your dog may lose so much blood to these parasites that he suffers from pale gums and other symptoms of anemia. You’ll probably know if your dog has fleas this badly; he will be itching uncontrollably and you’ll likely see fleas on yourself and your furniture, too. You can also often see them crawling on your pet.

Other types of parasites can also cause blood loss significant enough to lead to pale gums. Internal parasites can contribute to this symptom as well. Your vet will need to do a fecal exam to diagnose this type of parasite.

Blood Clotting Disorder

Just like humans, some dogs may suffer from blood clotting disorders. These are issues that cause a dog’s body to be unable to clot blood appropriately. This, in turn, leads to excessive bleeding even from small injuries and may lead to frequent bruising as well.

Blood clotting disorders can be serious if left untreated. However, if you and your vet catch this problem early enough, your dog can be treated and can live a fairly normal life under veterinary care. Therefore, this cause of pale gums isn’t considered quite as severe as some others if recognized and treated quickly.


Bloat can be extremely dangerous, especially in dogs who suffer severely from it. Bloat happens more commonly in some dogs than in others, but it is possible in any dog. It is the term for a situation in which dogs become so bloated with gas that the stomach twists and circulation is cut off almost immediately.

When this happens, your dog will have pale gums and will also have a noticeably large stomach or abdomen. Bloat also causes a lot of pain and quickly leads to death if left untreated in its most severe state. Take your dog to the vet right away if you think he may be suffering from bloat; don’t wait.


There are many situations that can cause shock. Any time a dog suffers a severe injury that leads to extensive internal or external bleeding, this may lead the dog to suffering from shock as well. When a dog is in shock, the body’s circulatory system no longer functions the way it should, and blood is not distributed throughout the body as needed. This will cause the gums to turn pale.

Your dog will also have difficulty breathing and will have a rapid, shallow heart rate while in shock. If you notice these symptoms in your dog following an injury, take him to the emergency vet immediately.

Kidney or Heart Disease

Kidney disease can affect the body’s ability to produce red blood cells. When this happens, the gums may appear pale as a result. Your dog will likely also have symptoms such as excessive thirst and urination as well as rapid, unexplained weight loss if he is suffering from kidney disease.

Heart disease can also cause pale gums, especially when the heart is no longer able to pump blood normally. Your dog may cough frequently or have a swollen abdomen from the presence of fluid due to heart disease. Heart disease is common in senior dogs.


There are many types of cancer that can affect dogs, just like humans. Some types of cancer affect the body’s ability to produce red blood cells, which can lead to pale gums as a symptom. Your dog will likely have many other symptoms of illness if he suffers from cancer, other than just pale gums.

Only a vet can diagnose your dog with cancer. If your pet does receive this diagnosis, it’s important to work with your vet to figure out the right plan of action moving forward.

Seek Veterinary Care if Your Dog Has Pale Gums

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn more about the causes of pale gums in dogs, you should be able to recognize when your dog might be dealing with an emergency situation. If you think there is any risk of an emergency, don’t wait—go to the emergency vet right away.

Pale gums aren’t always an immediate emergency, but they usually signify that something isn’t quite right. Because of this, your dog will still need to go to the vet to figure out the underlying cause of this symptom, even if you determine that the problem probably isn’t an emergency.

If you notice your dog has pale gums, don’t hesitate to call VEG. With hospitals all over the country, most open 24/7 and others open overnight and 24 hours on the weekends, our team is ready to help guide you in the best direction for your pet. You can speak directly with an emergency vet who will be able to provide advice on your pet’s condition. Call or come in to any VEG location for the emergency care your pet needs.


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About the Author: Tung Chi