Dog oral care is commonly overlooked by pet parents, but dental care—including gum health—is just as important as the rest of your dog’s care.
Neglected teeth and gums can lead to other health problems, and some diseases can show up in the state of your dog’s gums. To make sure your pup has healthy dog gums for many years to come, here are some things you need to know.
5 Ways to Ensure Healthy Dog Gums
Here are a few indicators of gum health to look out for.
1. Look at the Color of the Gums
In general, healthy dog gums should be a salmon-pink color.
When you lift one of your dog’s jowls and press the ball of your finger on the gums underneath, they should briefly turn white before returning to the same pink within 2-3 seconds.
If the gums are a different color, it could mean a number of things, such as:
- Pale pink: anemia or circulatory problems
- White: loss of blood, internally or externally
- Yellow: jaundice, which could indicate liver problems
- Bright red: the body fighting an infection, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or possibly exposure to a toxin
- Blue or blue tinge: lack of proper oxygen, such as blocked airways or heart or chest problems (see your vet immediately)
If at any time your dogs gums are a weird or different color, talk to your vet right away, as they may need treatment for underlying health problems.
Note: Some dogs do have pigment on their gums that could make them look a different color. If this is the case, examining gum color may not be the best gauge of health. Ask your veterinarian about alternative ways to check their overall health, such as looking at the inside of the lower eyelid.
2. Watch for Bad Breath
Bad breath, or a sudden worsening of the breath, is another sign of unhealthy gums. It’s often associated with gum disease caused by bacteria on the teeth.
The most common unhealthy gum disease is periodontal disease, especially for dogs less than 30 pounds, but others could include bleeding disorders, inflammatory disease, or oral cancer.
Gum disease is best prevented by cleaning your dog’s teeth regularly (see more on that below). But if you notice your dog has bad breath, consider it a possible warning sign and get them to the vet for a checkup.
3. Examine the Gum’s Texture
As a dog gets older, their teeth can take on a cobbled appearance, especially in larger breeds like Saint Bernards or Labradors.
This alone is usually not a reason for concern, but sometimes coddled gums can be a sign of cancer, especially if accompanied by pain, bad breath, bleeding, or trouble chewing.
4. Watch Out for Warts
Puppies and younger dogs can sometimes get papillomatosis, or gum warts. These look like single warts or clusters of warts—sometimes big clusters.
One or two warts are usually not concerning, and they tend to fall off within a couple months. However, dogs with many warts may need to have them surgically removed to prevent problems.
5. Monitor Any Bleeding
If your dog chews a lot, especially if it’s on a bone or toy that’s rough, their gums may bleed sometimes. This isn’t usually serious—as long as the bleeding stops. But if you notice bleeding that lasts for more than 10 minutes, seek veterinarian assistance right away.
Bleeding gums that don’t stop could possibly be a sign of a bleeding disease, kidney failure, or oral cancer. Bleeding gums are also a result of eating rat poison, so don’t delay getting your dog help in this situation.
If you suspect your dog has any gum problems, take them to the vet to make sure they get the care they need. The vet can do a complete dental examine, and even take x-rays if needed, to determine treatment.
And don’t forget about the importance of prevention, which we’ll cover next.
3 Natural Ways to Support Healthy Dog Gums
If your dog has healthy gums, help keep them that way with the following healthy dog gums practices.
1. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
The best way to maintain healthy dog gums at home is by regularly brushing your dog’s teeth. Here are some tips for doing so:
- Be sure to use a dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrush.
- Start by letting your dog smell the toothpaste and gently brushing the toothbrush on their teeth.
- Work up to brushing for 30 seconds on each side of the mouth.
- Use lots of natural dog treats as rewards for cooperating, and make the goal daily brushing.
This might seem like a lot of trouble at first, but most dogs will get used to the experience after several weeks. Be patient, and try to view it as a bonding experience between you and your pup!
2. Use Dental Toys and Treats
A great alternative to manually brushing your dog’s teeth is brushless toothpaste. Brushless toothpaste helps reduce bad breath, plaque and tartar, and stains. Plus, it’s healthy:
- Highly digestible
- Free of wheat, corn, animal by-products, soy, and artificial colors
- Uses natural freshening ingredients like chlorophyll, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla
Other dental teeth and toys designed for oral health can also help maintain your dog’s oral care. While not as effective as toothpaste, they help clean your dog’s teeth through chewing.
You can also add a packet of Breath-Less Plaque Zapper to your dog’s water bowl to fight harmful mouth bacteria and plaque. Just add to their water and let the all-natural (and colorless/odorless/flavorless) enzymes do their work.
3. Take Them in for Regular Exams and Cleanings
It’s not just humans who need regular teeth checkups. Your veterinarian can check your pup for any teeth and gum issues during regular exams, as well as do cleanings or other treatments. This is one of the best ways to stay on top of your furry friends dental health!
At Nature’s Ideal, we understand the importance of your pet’s health and believe they deserve to be as healthy as possible! See our all-natural dog Oral Care products here as well as our entire Pet Care and Supplies products here.
Disclaimer: Statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.