Healthy vs. Unhealthy Gums in Dogs

Did you know that gum health is just important in dogs as it is in humans? Your dog’s gums can indicate many different health issues, including periodontal disease. Healthy gums and a healthy mouth start with regular visits to a veterinary dentist like Dr. Woodward and his team at Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery. Read on to learn more about recognizing the signs of unhealthy gums in dogs, the problems they can cause, and how we can help you treat them. 

Signs and Symptoms of Unhealthy Gums in Dogs

The two most common signs of unhealthy gums in dogs are bad breath and inflamed gums. Inflamed gums, or gingivitis, is typically caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar along the gumline, and is the first sign of periodontal disease. If left untreated, gingivitis will worsen, leading to tooth loss and bone loss. 

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease, the inflammation and destruction of the soft tissues and the bone. When periodontitis progresses, it leads to gingival recession, tooth root exposure, bone loss, and tooth loss. 

Gingivitis is the only stage of periodontal disease that can be reversed. Once soft tissue and bone have been lost due to periodontal disease, it is very difficult for them to regenerate. It also makes your dog more prone to infections.

If a periodontal infection enters the bloodstream, it can cause damage to your pet’s heart, liver and kidneys. Always take gum disease seriously and seek treatment for your dog right away. The earlier it is addressed, the better the outcome and the more likely it is that extractions can be avoided.

How to Recognize Unhealthy Gums in Dogs

Bright Red Gums

If your dog has bright red colored gums, especially right along the gum line, it may be due to one of the following reasons:

  • Dental disease- this is by far the most common reason for inflamed gums
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Poisoning 
  • Heat stroke or overheating 

Bluish Gums 

Blue gums can signal potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Blood clots in the lungs
  • Pneumonia
  • Choking 
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory difficulties

Yellow Gums

Yellow gums typically indicate jaundice, which can be the result of:

  • Liver problems
  • Red blood cell damage

Pale Pink Gums 

Pale gums could indicate a lack of red blood cells, caused by:

  • Blood loss
  • Anemia
  • Trauma or Shock

Keeping Your Dog’s Gums Healthy 

In order to keep your dog’s gums healthy, you should establish a good dental hygiene routine. You can help keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good condition by brushing their teeth regularly with a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily to remove plaque can reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Studies have shown that the minimum frequency that shows any benefit is to brush every other day. Less than that does no good at all. Brushing twice a day provides much better results. We are happy to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth without having it be a battle.

In addition to regular brushing, you should also schedule regular dental checkups for your dog. Having a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) can be incredibly helpful for keeping your dog’s oral health in good shape. A COHAT treats any present disease and provides a comprehensive oral exam and cleaning for your dog. 

Veterinary Dentist in Bozeman, MT

Dr. Tony Woodward is the only board-certified veterinary dentist in all of Montana, and has extensive experience in treating dental diseases and gum diseases in dogs. If you suspect that your dog has any signs of unhealthy gums, all you need to do is call our Bozeman office and schedule an appointment. Dr. Woodward works on site here in Bozeman to handle all of your dog’s dental needs.