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What are Bleeding Gums?

It is often said that the condition of the mouth reveals the health.  While this has been proven to be a true fact in humans, let this article put you on notice that it is also true in the canine species.  Bleeding gums in dogs can signal something more serious going on deep inside your beloved canine family member, ranging from mild oral inflammation and plaque buildup on the teeth to various stages and types of oral cancer and it can signal many systemic health conditions which may be going unnoticed and untreated.

Bleeding gums is a condition in which the gums, which appear swollen and red, bleed easily.  This condition, whether in canines or humans, usually indicates uncontrolled inflammation and possible infection in the mouth.

Symptoms of Bleeding Gums in Dogs

The symptoms of bleeding gums in dogs will likely begin in a quite subtle manner that could go unnoticed as you go about your daily living activities with your family (both human and canine) and the tremendous responsibilities that go with them.  Here are some of the symptoms of bleeding gums for which you should be watching:

  • Halitosis (bad breath) - This may be the most noticeable and earliest symptom you might note 

  • Swollen gums which are red or very pink in color
  • Yellow or brown teeth (may be loose or some may be missing)
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty chewing on bones

Types

 

There are several types of bleeding gums in dogs:

  • Trauma or injury - This includes injury/trauma from chewing various objects and toys

  • Foreign body penetration - Includes pieces and parts of all things being curiously chewed by canines
  • Ingestion/consumption of toxic foods and substances like chocolate, antifreeze and other poisonous substances
  • Infection and inflammation resulting largely from poor oral hygiene 
  • Inflammation resulting from systemic diseases
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Causes of Bleeding Gums in Dogs

  • Traumatic or injury-related bleeding gums can be caused by chewing bones, toys, sticks
  • Foreign body penetration causing bleeding of gums - This could be the result of the deep-seated curiosity embedded into both dogs and cats, and since they don’t have thumbs, everything goes into the mouth for “evaluation” (just like your human toddlers)

  • Ingestion of toxic foods and substances - These are human foods which are not recommended for your doggy (chocolate, anything containing Xylitol, avocado, alcohol, onions, garlic, caffeinated beverages, some fruits, nuts) and poisonous substances (antifreeze, various cleaning products, medications)
  • Inflammation and subsequent infection from poor oral hygiene - Your dog needs to have his teeth brushed on a regular basis, too, and your pet needs periodic dental cleanings by your veterinary professional who is trained to do so; bacteria and plaque can form in your doggy family member’s mouth just as it can in your mouth and it can do the same type of damage to him as it does to you

  • Inflammation resulting from systemic diseases - There are a number of systemic diseases which have chronic inflammation as a symptom or contributing factor (oral inflammation, parasitic, bacterial or fungal infections in other parts of the body, or from various types of cancer which can be anywhere in the body)
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Diagnosis of Bleeding Gums in Dogs

Diagnosing bleeding gums in dogs can be as simple as checking them visually or as involved as x-rays, CT scan, MRI studies and surgical biopsies. Here are some of the steps which may be involved:

  • Your veterinary professional will need a complete history from you in regard to your pet’s dietary regimen, any oral hygiene measures that are being done, health history and vaccinations along with the bleeding gum symptoms you’ve noticed, complete with the severity, frequency and duration
  • He will do a physical examination and will likely order a series of blood tests to ascertain normal blood component values, possibility of infection (either bacterial or fungal), and to assess certain vitamin and mineral components for proper balance
  • He may take various tissue samples as well as do urine fecal testing
  • Based upon the findings from his examination, your history and the blood testing results, he may need to order radiographic testing (x-rays), CT scanning or MRI studies to define any potential masses or other abnormalities found in his examination 

These extra tests will likely be needed if your veterinary professional suspects that there is an underlying systemic cause for the inflammation noted in the oral cavity.  His treatment plan will be dependent upon the results of this testing and will be focused on the primary cause, whether it is periodontal disease or other systemic issue.

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Treatment of Bleeding Gums in Dogs

Treatment for bleeding gums in dogs will be dependent upon the cause found for the condition.  If the cause is determined to be purely oral in nature, then your veterinary professional will recommend appropriate veterinary dental care by a veterinary professional who is trained to do it.  

  • The dental care that is required may range from that which is necessary to treat mild gingivitis (the earliest and mildest form of gum disease) to that which is necessary to  more intensively treat for periodontitis (the more severe stage of gum disease) in whatever stage of development it is found
  • If the cause is found to be systemic in nature, then the treatment plan could involve a variety of medical interventions for the variety of medical problems for which inflammation is a factor
  • Those medical interventions could range from dietary changes to ensure or improve nutrition, digestion and nutritional absorption to administration of medications to treat a systemic disease (thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome) to full fledged surgical removal of a malignant tumor with subsequent radiographic postoperative treatments
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Recovery of Bleeding Gums in Dogs

Of course, it goes without saying that the prognosis of bleeding gums in your family pet is contingent upon the reason for the bleeding gums.  Many canines, like a large percentage of adults in the United States, suffer from undiagnosed and untreated gum disease in various stages of development.  And, just like in humans, the inflammation that causes gum disease and bleeding gums in dogs can also cause a variety of systemic diseases, some of which are serious and life-threatening for the host, whether human or canine.  

The most frequently found cause for bleeding gums in dogs lies in undiagnosed and untreated periodontal disease.  But, be encouraged, this can be treated.  If you are not already involved in some degree of routine oral hygiene, it would be wise to consult with your veterinary professional for recommendations and training on what you should be doing, the way you should be doing it and the frequency with which it must be done.

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Bleeding Gums Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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April

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German Shepherd

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding From Her Gum
Swelling Near Her Molar
Little Cut In Her Tongue
Doesnt Seem To Have Much Apetite
Sometime Has A Little Fever
In Morning And Afternoon
Cough And Little Cold

My 1 year old german shephard seem to have a little swelling near her molar which i didnt know. And i gave her a bone to chew, now she is bleeding from her gums as well. Before that, there wasnt any oral problem with her. The blood from her gums doesnt seem to stop and to make the matter worse, she has a little cut in her tongue as well.

April 1, 2018

April's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

With the signs that you describe, it would be a good idea to have April examined by a veterinarian. She seems to be having something happening in her mouth, whether it is related to trauma from the bone, or something else. I cannot see her mouth or examine her, and a veterinarian will be able to look at her, assess her general health, and give her mouth a closer look to see if any treatment might be needed. I hope that all goes well for her!

April 1, 2018

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Capone

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Chihuahua

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10 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding Gums

My dog is a 10 year old chihuahua. I noticed a bit of blood coming from his gums yesterday. He also seems to chatter his mouth a bit when he closes on his bottom teeth. He's breath is pretty bad and the bottom 4 teeth are a little lose. What can I do for him? He's acting totally fine and still eating his hard food.

March 15, 2018

Capone's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Dental disease is very common, especially in small breed dogs. If you are noticing odor and loose teeth, he needs medical attention. Chattering in dogs is a sign of pain, and dental disease can be very painful, as we well know as people. Your veterinarian will be able to examine him, determine the status of his mouth, and give you a plan as to how to treat his teeth - he may need to have some of them removed if they are abscessed. I hope that all goes well for him!

March 15, 2018

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Jack

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Mixed lab

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding

I have a 7 year old mixed Lab. I noticed when he plays with his toys, there is sometimes drops of blood on the toys. He is a good eater and drinker. Also has normal bowel movements and urine output. He's really peppy in the morning but later on doesn't want to Salk too much.

March 5, 2018

Jack's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are various possible causes for a bleeding mouth or blood to be present on toys which may include dental disorders, poisoning, trauma, hormonal conditions, clotting disorders among other causes. Check inside Jack’s mouth to look for any signs of trauma or dental issues, if you cannot see anything you should visit your Veterinarian for a thorough examination to look at the mouth in more detail to determine a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 5, 2018

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Hunter

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Labrador Retriever

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8 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding
Bleeding Gums
Swollen Joints

I took my dog to the vet over a month ago and they gave him antibiotics for his ear infection and mouth infection. He broke one of his cuspids a few ago ago and its never caused him any problems but now he has a hole in his gums and it bleeds every few weeks and pours out blood when it does. My vet said it looked fine at the time I brought him in. But even after the antibiotics its still there. Also his nose is slightly swollen on the side where the problem is occurring. What do you suggest I do?

Jan. 29, 2018

Hunter's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

If the gum isn’t healing and continues to have episodes of bleeding you should visit your Veterinarian again as the hole may need to be cleaned out and suture closed; if there is still a remnant of a tooth in there it should be removed prior to closure. Without examining Hunter’s mouth I cannot say what the best course of action is, but it may be worth having it sutured closed (if possible). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 29, 2018

I noticed my dogs jums were bleeding and teeth are black so I went and bought a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste and brushed her teeth very well. I looked again after I brushed them and they were bleeding even more. Do you suggest I keep brushing them everyday and see how she does or take her to the vet.

June 8, 2018

Tiffany P.

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Dexter

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Labrador Retriever

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vit B Deficiency And Bleeding Gums

Our 6yr old black lab has always had a funny tum, has frequent bouts of loose stools, he has to be encouraged to eat, recently he lost a lot of weight ( about 3kilos) so had blood test. He has low Vit b12 and has had 3 weeks of injections of this vitamin and is due for another. Tonight I gave him a bonus and his gums have bled everywhere. It has happened before when having hard things to crunch. He has a bit of plaque but nothing serious. So could this gum bleeding be related to the vit B deficiency .

Jan. 27, 2018

Dexter's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

A deficiency of vitamin B12 is related to bleeding gums as well as random bruising on the body; if you are noticing the gums bleeding or there is bruising on the body you should return to your Veterinarian for an examination and other blood test to check Dexter over to be on the safe side. There are other causes of bleeding gums, but in this case it is more likely related to the vitamin B12 deficiency. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 28, 2018

Thanks for this, it has helped, great service. Sheila

Jan. 28, 2018

Dexter's Owner

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Miracle

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Yorkshire Terrier

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Licking

I noticed my dog licking a lot and checked inside of her mouth were I found a bleeding mass behind her top row of teeth on the right side of her mouth. She seems to be sleeping more than usual but we are sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic so I can’t tell if she’s just also bummed about not being outdoors as much. Her appetite seems normal for her but she is drinking less. I’m worried about mouth cancers. Is a trip to the vet our only option? How can I stop the bleeding to see it more clearly?

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Leo

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German shepherd mix

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10 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding Gums
Energy Change

My 10 month Old German Shepherd Lab Mix(70pounds) recently got a shift in a energy and has been sleeping a lot more and doesnt want to do the stuff he usually does. We noticed he had a pink dot on his nose and was licking his mouth a lot so i tried to check his mouth too. He was scared and did not want us to touch it but eventually let me and is when i saw that(as far as I can see) 2 of his teeth were bleeding from the gums but it wasn't a constant bleeding and more like you can tell blood had been there. He ate his kibble when we mixed egg in it so he is still eating but i dont know what i should do. Should i take him to the vet or wait a couple more days? Is his energy change due to pain? Should I buy over the counter medication in the meanwhile?

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Outlaw

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

4 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Outlaw my 4 month old puppy has started to bleed a little from his gums I try to open his mouth and look in to see more or if it’s worse but he won’t let me open his mouth and I’m worried an I would like to know what to do.

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Stinky

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

In the morning on Saturday I gave he a Denta Stick and she started eating it but when I looked down their was a little bit of blood on he bone so I checked her teeth and they looked fine but then I saw where it was coming from it was on the left side of her mouth on the upper gum above one of her teeth. I didn't want to see if the tooth was wiggling because she doesn't like me looking at her teeth anyway so I just left it. I didn't see anymore bleeding since that day but it's been about a month. I didn't know that it could have been a problem at the time but then I stumbled across this arrival and it scared me so I just wanted to make sure she is ok.

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Blue

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Siberian Husky

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding Gums

My 7 year old siberian huskys gums blead whenever he is eating some he has to knor on. They dont bleed any other time and his gums look healthy. Should i take him to the vets or is this common. Many thanks