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Red Gums in Dogs

Red gums in dogs typically signal a dental issue. A dog with good oral hygiene boasts healthy pink gums, gleaming white teeth, and no tartar buildup. Loose teeth are also absent.

When a dog’s gums transition to red, it may indicate the onset of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Additionally, red gums in dogs might stem from injury, ingestion of toxic substances, or overheating. In rare instances, oral cancer could be the culprit.

Reddened gums might be tender and painful, leading your dog to display reluctance while eating. If your dog exhibits red gums, it’s imperative to have them examined by a veterinarian. Here’s some useful information regarding red gums in dogs.

Symptoms and Types

Panting, lethargy, or head-tilting are more severe symptoms that could indicate an emergency. If your dog experiences any of these, promptly seek veterinary care.

Be vigilant for these additional symptoms that may accompany red gums, depending on the underlying cause:

Presence of tartar buildup and foul breath: indications of gingivitis or periodontal disease

Gum bleeding: a sign of gingivitis, injury (such as from chewing on a sharp object), or ingestion of toxic substances

Excessive panting: a symptom of overheating

Uneven texture of the gums: suggestive of warts or cancer


Potential factors that may lead to red gums in dogs include:

Gingivitis and periodontal disease: In this mild form of gum disease, bacteria accumulate at the tooth base, resulting in tartar and plaque formation. This causes gum inflammation, though no damage has yet occurred to the tooth’s bone or supporting ligaments. As gingivitis progresses, gum damage ensues.

  • Teeth crowding: Young dogs with an excess of teeth for their mouth size may experience impacted and red gums.
  • Advanced age: Some dogs may develop red or swollen gums as they age.
  • Injury or trauma: Gum swelling and redness can result from biting or being punctured by a hard, sharp object, often due to poor chewing habits.
  • Toxic exposure: Ingesting poisonous substances such as toxic plants or licking a poisonous toad may cause a dog’s gums to turn cherry red.
  • Overheating and heatstroke: Red gums may indicate overheating or heatstroke in dogs, often accompanied by heavy panting.
  • Disease: Conditions like cancer, diabetes mellitus, or uremia (associated with kidney injury or urinary tract obstruction) may lead to swollen, red gums, often accompanied by other symptoms.
  • Papillomatosis (gum warts): Typically observed in younger and larger breeds like Labrador Retrievers, these warts often spontaneously fall off.


To ascertain the reason behind your dog’s red gums, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of their teeth and gums, along with a comprehensive physical assessment. Additionally, they may conduct the following examinations:

Dental x-rays of the teeth and gums, which can reveal whether the issue stems from gingivitis, periodontal disease, or trauma. This examination may necessitate anesthesia.

Blood and urine tests to detect any underlying medical conditions.

Tissue biopsy in cases where conditions such as papillomavirus are suspected.

Computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to explore more serious causes, such as cancer.


Treating red gums in dogs is contingent upon the underlying condition determined by your veterinarian.

Dental Issues

Your veterinarian will address dental issues such as gingivitis by performing a thorough cleaning of your dog’s teeth to eliminate plaque and tartar. Maintaining proper dental hygiene with your dog throughout the year is crucial.

In cases of more severe dental issues, your veterinarian may suggest periodontal surgery or tooth extraction. Extraction of a tooth or multiple teeth may be necessary to address overcrowding in the mouth.

Oral Issues

Red gums resulting from oral lesions, such as warts, may resolve spontaneously, but oral tumors may necessitate surgical removal.

Medical Condition

If red gums stem from a medical condition like diabetes, treatment will focus on addressing the particular condition.

Red Gums in Dogs FAQs

What color is a sick dog’s gums?

Red, pale/white, blue, or yellow.

Red gums might indicate gum disease, injury, or various other conditions.

Pale white gums could signify anemia.

Bluish gums might result from oxygen deprivation.

Yellowish gums may be indicative of liver disease or bacterial infection.

Healthy gums should be pink.

How should I treat red gums in my dog?

Home treatment is not recommended. There can be numerous causes for red gums in dogs, and only a veterinarian can identify the underlying issue. The vet will prescribe appropriate treatment after examining your dog. If dental issues are the cause, dental treatments and improved hygiene may be advised.

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