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Dog Gum Colors - What's The Difference

Written by: Dr. Athena Gaffud



Time to read 9 min

Have you ever noticed the color of your dog's gums and wondered what it might mean?

We will explore the various dog gum colors and what they could indicate about a dog's health. From normal gum colors to abnormal shades like pale, red, or blue, we will delve into the causes and symptoms associated with each.

What Are Dog Gum Colors?

Dog gum colors refer to the shades observed on a dog's gums, which indicates various aspects of their health and well-being. The color of a dog's gums can range from pink to red to white, and even black or blue in certain circumstances.

Understanding dog gum colors is crucial because changes in gum color offer important insights into a dog's overall health.

For example, pale or white gums indicate anemia or shock, while bright red gums could be a sign of inflammation or overheating. On the other hand, gums that appear bluish or purple might suggest issues with oxygenation or circulation.

Regularly checking a dog's gum color can help you catch potential health problems early on. If you notice any unusual changes in gum color such as yellow, gray, or unusually dark shades, it's best to consult a veterinarian promptly.

By being vigilant about monitoring a dog's gum colors, pet parents play a proactive role in maintaining their well-being and ensuring they receive timely medical attention when needed.

What Do Different Dog Gum Colors Mean?

dog with pink gums

Pink: Normal gum color in dogs typically appears pink , indicating good oral health and proper blood circulation. Veterinary professionals often use the color of a dog's gums as a quick indicator of the pet's overall well-being.
dog with pale gums

White: Pale or white gums in dogs are sign of anemia or reduced blood flow. These abnormal gum colors may indicate underlying health issues that require prompt attention from a veterinarian.
dog with red gums

Red: Red or inflamed gums in dogs are often associated with conditions like gingivitis and dental issues. Plaque buildup on teeth leads to gum irritation and infection. Dental diseases like periodontitis further aggravate gum issues if left untreated. 
dog with purple gums

Blue or Purple: Blue or purple gums in dogs indicate respiratory problems or a lack of oxygen in the blood. It is also described as “cyanotic”. Various potential causes behind blue or purple gums in dogs are respiratory issues, such as asthma, pneumonia, or bronchitis, which leads to decreased oxygen levels in the bloodstream, manifesting as discoloration in the gums. Other conditions like heart disease, shock, or anemia could also result in inadequate oxygenation of the tissues.
dog with yellow gums
Yellow: Yellow gums in dogs may indicate liver issues or jaundice, signaling a potential problem with the pet's liver function. Jaundice, a condition characterized by elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood, often leads to yellow discoloration of the gums in dogs. Bilirubin, produced by the breakdown of red blood cells, is normally processed by the liver. Therefore, any liver dysfunction results in the accumulation of bilirubin, leading to yellow gums.

What Are the Causes of Abnormal Dog Gum Colors?

a sick skinny dog

Abnormal dog gum colors can result from various factors such as dehydration, anemia, infections, inflammations, toxic exposures, and neoplastic conditions. Understanding the causes is crucial for timely intervention.


Dehydration leads to abnormal gum colors in dogs, causing them to appear dry and pale. Monitoring hydration levels is essential to maintain a dog's overall health.

When a dog is dehydrated, the gums lose their healthy pink color, becoming pale or even white. This is a clear indication of insufficient water intake, as dehydration affects the blood flow to the gums.

Ensuring that dogs have access to fresh water at all times is crucial in preventing dehydration. Dogs need water not only to quench their thirst but also to maintain proper bodily functions.

One way to encourage water consumption is by placing multiple water bowls in different locations around the house. Consider wetting your dog's food or offering them ice cubes as a hydrating treat.


Anemia results in abnormal gum colors in dogs, often leading to paleness or a bluish tint. When a dog experiences anemia, the lack of healthy red blood cells impacts the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, affecting the tissues, including the gums. This decreased oxygen level manifests as a change in gum color from the usual pink to a pale gray or even a bluish hue. Other common symptoms of anemia in dogs include lethargy, weakness, rapid heartbeat, and decreased appetite.

In terms of treatment, the underlying cause of anemia needs to be identified first. Depending on the root issue, treatment may involve dietary changes, supplements, medication, or in severe cases, blood transfusions.

Infection or Inflammation

Infections and inflammations cause abnormal gum colors in dogs, leading to redness, swelling, or other discolorations. Discolored gums suggest bacterial infections or dental diseases. Routine dental care, including regular teeth brushing and providing appropriate chew toys, plays a vital role in preventing gum infections. Scheduling regular check-ups with a veterinarian helps identify and treat any oral health concerns early on.


Toxic exposures lead to abnormal gum colors in dogs, indicating poisoning or adverse reactions to substances. Identifying and addressing toxicity promptly is crucial for a pet's well-being.

Common sources of toxicity that can impact a dog's gum color include household cleaners, certain plants, medications, and certain human foods. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, and changes in gum color, indicating serious health. Preventing accidental poisonings involves storing household chemicals securely, keeping toxic plants out of reach, and being cautious with medications and foods that are toxic to dogs.


Neoplastic conditions such as tumors or cancerous growths manifest as abnormal gum colors in dogs, signaling the presence of underlying health issues. One of the key indicators of neoplastic conditions affecting a dog's gum color is the appearance of unusual hues that range from pale white to deep purple, emphasizing the importance of regular oral health examinations. When pet owners notice any anomalies in their dog's gum pigmentation, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention. Early detection and intervention significantly improve prognosis.

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Problems?

a dog with gum disease
  • Swollen or Bleeding Gums : Swollen or bleeding gums in dogs are common symptoms of oral health issues like gingivitis or periodontal diseases.

  • Bad Breath : Persistent bad breath in dogs is a symptom of underlying oral health issues or infections affecting the gums. Addressing the root cause of bad breath is essential for a dog's overall well-being.

What Is Capillary Refill Time (CRT)?

Diagnosing dog gum color involves visual inspection and assessment of capillary refill time. “Capillary refill time (CRT) is used in veterinary diagnostics to reflect pathological conditions like shock or anemia, and changes in CRT can reflect these conditions,” (Cugmas, B., & Spigulis, J., 2018). 

This involves pressing a finger against the gums to momentarily restrict blood flow, then releasing it and timing how quickly the color returns to normal.

Capillary Refill Time (CRT)

Diagnosing dog gum color involves visual inspection and assessment of capillary refill time. “Capillary refill time (CRT) is used in veterinary diagnostics to reflect pathological conditions like shock or anemia, and changes in CRT can reflect these conditions,” (Cugmas, B., & Spigulis, J., 2018). This involves pressing a finger against the gums to momentarily restrict blood flow, then releasing it and timing how quickly the color returns to normal.

If the capillary refill time is prolonged, indicating poor circulation, it suggests serious conditions such as anemia, shock, or heart disease. Veterinarians also use additional diagnostic methods like blood tests, ultrasound, or X-rays to delve deeper into identifying the exact cause of the abnormal gum color and underlying health issues.

What Is the Treatment for Abnormal Dog Gum Colors?

Treating abnormal dog gum colors involves addressing the underlying cause, which include hydration therapy, medication, or surgical interventions. Veterinary care is essential for managing gum discoloration effectively.

Some common causes of abnormal gum colors in dogs are dental issues, systemic diseases, or even ingestion of toxic substances. Once the root cause is identified by a veterinarian, appropriate treatment options can be recommended.

For instance, if the discoloration is due to dental problems like plaque buildup or gum disease, professional dental cleaning is necessary along with home dental care.

In cases where systemic diseases are the culprit, specific medications or dietary changes are prescribed to address the underlying health condition.

In more severe situations, such as tumors or infections, surgical interventions is required to remove the source of the issue.

Addressing the Underlying Cause

Owner Brushing Teeth of Dog

Addressing the underlying cause of abnormal dog gum colors is essential for effective treatment. This may involve resolving infections, improving circulation, or managing systemic conditions affecting the pet's health. Once the underlying problems are identified, treatment is tailored to address them effectively. This holistic approach often involves a combination of dental cleanings, medication, dietary changes, and lifestyle adjustments to promote overall wellness and restore the pet's gum health.

Using CBD Oil

CBD Oil such as CBD Happy-Furever Oil is a beneficial treatment option for abnormal dog gum colors, offering potential anti-inflammatory and calming effects. Incorporating CBD oil in a pet's care regimen helps address gum discolorations. “CBD has anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties in dogs' immune cells, encouraging further studies to better understand its potential therapeutic role in veterinary medicine,” (Gugliandolo, E., et al., 2021).

Not only can CBD oil help with the physical symptoms of abnormal gum colors by reducing inflammation, but it also has a calming effect on dogs, promoting overall well-being. The full-spectrum nature of this oil ensures that your pet benefits from the entourage effect, where various cannabinoids work together synergistically. Read “What’s the Entourage Effect Known in CBD Oil For Dogs?”.

Consistency in dosing is key to seeing the desired effects in your pet's oral health. Safety considerations include opting for high-quality CBD oil without additives or harmful substances.

Healthy Chews

Healthy Chews such as Super Health Vitality™ Chews are designed to support oral health and overall wellness in dogs, offering a convenient and enjoyable way to promote gum health. Incorporating these chews into a dog's daily routine can contribute to maintaining healthy gum colors.

These chews are packed with ashwagandha, turmeric curcumin, and ginger which aid in reducing plaque buildup. The act of chewing on these treats promotes saliva production, which helps in naturally cleansing the teeth and gums. “Ginger has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory potential, which may help in treating various ailments,” (Butt, M., & Sultan, M., 2011).

Super Health Vitality™ Chews are easy to use - simply offer them to your dog as a daily treat or reward after meals. For best results, consider making these chews a regular part of your canine's dental care regimen, along with regular vet check-ups and teeth brushing.

Incorporating Grass-fed Beef Organ Supplements

Grass-fed Beef Organ Supplements such as Primal-Vitality Beef Organ Complex offer essential nutrients and support for overall dog health, potentially aiding in addressing abnormal gum colors. Integrating this supplement into a dog's diet can contribute to improved oral and systemic well-being.

The nutrient-rich blend of organ meats delivers essential vitamins and minerals that promote good health and prevent nutrient deficiency such as iron deficiency anemia. The blend is carefully formulated to address underlying health issues in dogs, providing a comprehensive approach to overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different gum colors in dogs and what do they mean?

The most common gum colors in dogs are pink, black, and pale/white. Pink gums indicate good health, black gums are normal for certain breeds, and pale/white gums can be a sign of an underlying health issue.

What causes gum discoloration in dogs?

Gum discoloration in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, breed, age, diet, oral hygiene, and underlying health conditions.

What are the symptoms of abnormal gum colors in dogs?

Abnormal gum colors in dogs are accompanied by other symptoms such as bad breath, excessive drooling, difficulty eating, swollen gums, and changes in behavior or energy levels.

How is gum color in dogs diagnosed?

A veterinarian will examine your dog's gums and may also conduct blood tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic procedures to determine the underlying cause of the gum color change.

What is the recommended treatment for abnormal dog gum colors?

The treatment for abnormal gum colors in dogs will depend on the underlying cause. This may include dietary changes, dental cleanings, medication, or surgery, depending on the specific condition.

Can CBD or supplements help maintain healthy gum color in dogs?

Yes, CBD Full-Spectrum Happy-Furever Oil, Super Health Vitality™ Chews, and Primal-Vitality Beef Organ Complex are all natural supplements that can help support your dog's overall health, including maintaining healthy gum color. Consult with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dog's routine.

Dr. Athena Gaffud, DVM

Author: Dr. Athena Gaffud

Dr. Athena is a seasoned, board-certified veterinarian with comprehensive expertise in general practice, veterinary medicine, laboratory operations, and veterinary writing. She is passionate about animals and holistic health. 

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