Beneath the Surface: What Secrets are Hidden in Your Pet’s Gums?

In a way, your pet’s mouth is the window to their world. It’s how they eat, drink, breath, keep themselves clean, regulate body temperature, and it helps them communicate with other animals and humans.  

The gums are an integral, yet mostly unnoticed, component of the mouth. Paying attention to your pet’s gums can help you learn more about their overall health, and proper care can go a long way to ensuring a healthy, comfortable life for your furry companion.

The Color Game

The gums of a healthy pet should appear pink in color. Some pets will also have naturally occurring spots of black or brown pigment. Other colors can indicate potential problems:

  • Red – Red, swollen, or inflamed gums are signs that your pet is suffering from dental disease.
  • Pale or white – This color can be due to anemia, hypoglycemia, heat stroke, or exposure to a toxin.
  • Blue – Bluish looking gums may be caused by decreased oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Bleeding – In some cases, acute bleeding can occur after a particularly vigorous chewing session. However, any bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5-10 minutes or occurs regularly can indicate a deeper problem, such as dental disease, oral cancer, kidney failure, or a clotting disorder.

The Key to Well Being

Certain health conditions lurk beneath (or on) the gums, so bring your pet in for an evaluation if you notice any of the following:

  • Cobbled texture – A cobbled appearance to the gums is common as pets get older, but when combined with bad breath, oral pain, difficulty chewing, or bleeding gums, it could be a sign of cancer.
  • Gum overgrowth – Certain breeds (such as boxers) are prone to gum overgrowth, a benign condition that can lead to bad breath and other troubles. Good at-home and professional dental care is essential to protecting the oral health of dogs with gum overgrowth.
  • Periodontal diseasePeriodontal disease affects the majority of pets by the time they reach the age of three, and over 60 percent of oral problems are hidden beneath the gum line. Bacterial buildup, cavities, bone loss, weakened root sockets, and tissue loss can all occur where we can’t see, which is why regular cleanings, exams, and x-rays are so important to good dental health.
  • Warts – Yes, you read that right! Warts on the gums (also called papillomatosis) is common, especially in puppies. A few warts or a cluster of warts on the gums is nothing to be concerned about, as they’ll likely disappear on their own. However, surgery may be needed for dogs with many warts.

Caring for Your Pet’s Gums

Most pet owners don’t make a habit of looking at their pet’s gums, but knowing what’s normal for your pet can help you pinpoint problems later on. About once a week or so, lift your pet’s lips and examine the inside of their mouth. Look for any abnormalities on the teeth, gums, and surrounding tissue.

Good at-home and professional dental care is key to keeping your pet’s gums healthy. Daily brushing, regular wellness checkups, and professional dental cleanings will ensure your pet’s oral health stays intact, and can even add years to their life!

Please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates for further information or to schedule an appointment.