The simplest checkpoint for your dog’s health (which is also, unfortunately most overlooked by pet owners) is its gums. I had recently talked about dog’s dental health and ways to avoid dental issues. A dog’s gums are the simplest way to ensure that your pet’s blood is healthy without extracting the same. The color of your dog’s gums and subsequently its blood says a lot about its health. This is why vets take a look at dog’s gums before checking anything else. Let us check some signs of sick dog based on its gum health.
Key points about gum health and overall canine health
- Good, deep pink color of gums indicates normal health
- Pale gums indicate poor circulation or anemia
- White gums indicate shock or poor circulation
- Blue colored gums and tongue indicate poisoning
- Dog gums red or bright red indicate carbon monoxide poisoning
- Sick dog gums which are yellowish could indicate jaundice
- Tiny red splotches or red gums around teeth could indicate blood clotting issues. Note that you should not confuse a red line near the gum line or just below teeth. That indicates normal gums and overall oral health. But, a rosy glow on the gums around margins of discolored teeth could indicate gum disease.
Dark pigment spots on gums and teeth
Dog gums black spots-Many dogs have darkened spots or pigment spots on gums and tongue. This is usually normal. Also there are a few dog breeds with naturally black gums. Some examples include Chinese shar-pei and the chow chow.
Dog pale gums and heavy breathing- signs of bloating
Weakness, lethargy, heavy, shallow breathing or rapid heartbeat with pale gums indicates shock. Get your dog to the vet immediately. It could be caused by bloating and your pet may need emergency surgery. Some other signs of bloating include: your dog may seem restless, anxious and his stomach may be distended. S/he may drool heavily, and the stomach may be distended. Your pet may even try to retch but nothing will come up.
Home remedies for taking care of dog gums’ health
Some simple tips and home remedies can help prevent gum disease and gingivitis in your dog. It can also boost overall health and wellness and prevent expensive dental treatments and vet bills down the road.
Feeding dog home cooked meals is great but often this food is too soft or overcooked. Dogs need something harder that will not abrade their teeth and gums yet also provide a natural ‘brushing’ action. Dog food or kibble fortified with calcium and low in sugar or carbohydrates (low grain) is a good option. Some food brands like Cornucopia are recommended by vets to maintain gum health and prevent dental issues in dogs. Crunchy raw vegetables can also keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.
· Regular brushing
Brush your dog’s teeth and massage his gums regularly. Use soft bristled toothbrush (child brush) and a vet approved/canine toothpaste or gel. A mixture of salt and baking soda can also keep your dog’s gums healthy. Get your pet used to the idea of daily oral cleaning. You can also start with gauze wrapped around your finger to massage and clean Fido’s teeth and gums. Dental wipes for dogs are also available. If your pet continues to use aggression when you brush, get his teeth cleaner regularly by a professional.
· Supplements to prevent gum disease in dogs
Dogs need supplements to maintain oral health. Vitamin C, an antioxidant can repair gum disease and prevent inflammation. Small pets can benefit from 100mg of vitamin C twice a day. CoQ10 co enzyme, Goldenseal, Vitamin E, etc are some natural supplements to help prevent gum disease.
Rub some vitamin E oil on your pet’s gums. You can also massage gums with virgin coconut oil or olive oil. A mixture of food grade Helichrysum oil and olive oil can be a natural remedy for gum disease prevention. Tea tree oil, calendula oils massaged on pet’s teeth can also prevent gum issues. A weak solution of vitamin C pills or ascorbate in water rubbed on dogs gums can keep them healthy and pink. Feed your pet coconut oil or fish oil every day to prevent inflamamtion.
· Toys and treats
Some toys, raw hide treats and certain kinds of dog treats can also be useful in preventing dog gum disease. These wipe away tartar and also reduce bacteria. When buying treats for your pet, look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval.
· Watch out for signs of gum disease
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to keeping your dog’s gums healthy. Watch out for following signs of gum disease in your pet:
- Buildup of tartar along gum-line
- Persistent bad breath
- Red inflamed gums
Remember: if the dog gums are pale, he is displaying lethargy; he has very white gums, heavy breathing and other signs described above, it could indicate a serious disease. See your vet immediately.