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What are Bleeding Gums?

It is often said that the condition of the mouth reflects a dog's overall health.  While this has been proven to be a true fact in humans, this article will explore why this 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. Causes range from mild oral inflammation and plaque buildup on the teeth to various stages and types of oral cancer as well as certain 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.

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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 life 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:

  • Visible blood which may be seen in the drool or on objects or surfaces
  • Halitosis (bad breath) - This may be the most noticeable and earliest symptom you might note 
  • Swollen gums which are red or dark pink in color
  • Yellow or brown teeth (may be loose or some may be missing)
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty chewing on bones or a reluctance to eat dry kibble

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 toxins such as rat bait (bleeding can occur in other parts of the body too)
  • 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 toxins that disrupt coagulation, such as rat bait.
  • 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 and the possibility of infection (either bacterial or fungal)
  • He may take various tissue samples as well as do urine and 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 
  • Any masses will be aspirated or biopsied

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 periodontal 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 a simple scale and polish to a more involved dental which includes extractions
  • 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 improve nutrition and digestion, 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 concurrent chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy
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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.

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

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jack

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Gum

My dog has a small gash on her gums and it’s dropped her energy levels down

Oct. 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you think that the wound on her gums is causing a problem, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to look at the wound, see if it is due to dental disease or if it is infected, and see if it needs treatment. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Puggle

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Fourteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding

My dog started bleeding from the mouth yesterday and it is consistently dripping. I brought her to the vet and they did a huge amount of tests, everything was good, except she has serious gum disease. Recommended to remove all of her teeth. The problem is, they gave me antibiotics, Cilacin for the infection I assume, but nothing to stop the bleeding. I am scared she is going to lose so much blood that she will die. I can't get in to a vet to remove her teeth for another 10 days. 1 1/2 years ago, my other dog was given prednisone and antibiotics and the bleeding stopped with 12 hours.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Without being able to see her, unfortunately, there is little that I can do to stop the bleeding. It would be best to have your pet rechecked by a veterinarian if you are concerned, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 19, 2020

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