When you go for a check-up with your doctor or are admitted to hospital, the medical professionals treating you will do a range of tests and make observations on your general health in a variety of manners, including things like taking your pulse rate, monitoring your breathing rate, looking into your eyes, and examining the inside of your mouth.
The same is true with dogs, and there are a variety of ways in which you can ascertain the basic general health and condition of your dog with a couple of observations, such as how fast your dog is breathing, how hot they are, and what the colour of their mucous membranes is. The mucous membranes are found in areas such as the insides of the eyelids and the gums, and in good health, these should be a warm pink colour. Ill health or an underlying problem can be ascertained by a change of colour, such as a bright deep red, or paleness, in the same way as can be found on people when their skin takes on a different hue.
Pale, white gums in dogs is one of the clearest and easiest to spot indications that something may be amiss with your dog, and white gums can be caused by a variety of different problems. Read on to find out about some of the most common causes of whiteness of the gums in dogs.
External parasites include pests such as ticks or a high flea count, which all lead to anaemia as they feed on the pet of your blood, essentially functioning as tiny vampires that drain your pet’s blood! Using an effective, veterinary recommended product to repel fleas and ticks, such as high quality spot-on anti-parasitics can help to prevent this, as can checking your dog over for ticks when you return from your walks, particularly during the summer months.
White gums in the dog can also be caused by invisible internal parasites, which latch onto the intestinal walls of your dog and again, feed on the nutrients in your pet’s blood. This in turn can lead to anaemia, which occurs when the haemoglobin and red blood cells are compromised. Intestinal parasites are spread very easily between dogs, and by contact with affected ground, and parasites such as roundworm, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms can soon reproduce prolifically and lead to a high worm count within the body.
Internal parasite infestations to the point that they cause white gums usually come accompanied with other symptoms as well, such as increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, and diarrhoea.
Ensuring that your dog is wormed regularly with a high quality wormer that has a broad enough spectrum to treat all varieties of internal parasites is essential, so if you haven’t kept up with your dog’s worming protocols recently, now is the time to sort things out.
Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar is a condition that can be brought on by a variety of methods, and is most likely to occur in small breeds of dogs that do not have huge appetites, and so maintain a very delicate blood sugar balance. Simply being fed late, missing a meal or not being fed enough can cause a drop in blood sugar, as can things like being too cold, being stressed, or being fed an incorrect diet.
As well as white gums, your dog may also become shaky and disoriented, and be slow to respond to your or even appear aggressive. You can deal with an immediate blood sugar problem by feeding your dog, or warming them if they are cold, or calming them if they are stressed. If your dog regularly suffers from low blood sugar, you may wish to speak to your vet about longer term solutions to the issue.
There are various other conditions too that can lead to white gums, and white gums often accompany generalised malaise and illness in the same way that people who are ill are often pale in colour.
Some more serious problems can lead to regular, recurrent or permanently white gums, such as haemolytic anaemia, which is a condition caused by the body attacking and destroying its own red blood cells.
A condition called liver shunt, usually diagnosed in puppies, can cause permanently white gums too, as this leads to the circulatory system bypassing the liver, and so toxins that should be naturally eliminated from the blood remain within circulation in the body.
Various types of autoimmune conditions can also lead to pale or white gums, and these are all worthy of investigation by your vet, particularly if you own a puppy that has white gums, as they may have a long term health problem that will require addressing.
Other issues such as toxins and poisons can cause white gums among other symptoms, so take care to find out if your dog or puppy has eaten something that they shouldn’t, such as a toxic plant, household cleaner, or a poison.