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What are Getting White Gums?

Dogs should always have pink or light red gums; this is one way to signify adequate blood flow and overall health. White gums in dogs can signify anemia. Anemia refers to the reduction of red blood cells or hemoglobin that are circulating in your dog’s body. Anemia is not a specific illness or disease, but rather a symptom of a variety of health conditions. The gums are specifically known to show if a dog may be anemic, since it is the one area of the dog that is exposed and not covered in fur. 

Red blood cells are released into the bloodstream, and after a period of circulation, they are removed and then used to form new ones. When there is a loss of red blood cells, it is due to less production or a loss of blood. Reasons that a dog’s gums may be white include:

  • Internal parasites
  • Internal bleeding
  • Tumors
  • Blood clotting diseases
  • Chemicals or toxins
  • Autoimmune disease

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Why Getting White Gums Occurs in Dogs

A loss of blood in your dog can signify a serious health issue. It is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Causes may include:

Internal Parasites

Internal parasites, such as coccidia and hookworms can cause blood loss. Parasites that live in the intestines feed off of the dog’s blood, causing anemia. Heartworms and other preventable parasitic infestations may result in whitened gums.

Internal Bleeding

If your dog is bleeding internally, this may be apparent in bloody stools. Internal bleeding can cause your dog’s gums to be white. Weakened and damaged blood vessels, trauma, or hemorrhage can cause internal bleeding.

Tumors

If your dog has a tumor, either benign or malignant, it may bleed. Once it becomes larger, it may bleed more, and it may also touch the blood vessels near it. This may cause even more internal bleeding and will be an emergency situation.

Blood Clotting Diseases

Blood clotting disorders, such as hemophilia, coagulopathy, protein deficiencies, thrombosis, and other conditions may cause the gums of your dog to be white. This is due to the increased amount of anemia as the red blood cells are excessively lost when trauma or internal bleeding occur.

Chemicals or Toxins

Certain poisonous chemicals that are used to kill pests, such as rodenticides, contain anticoagulant. This anticoagulant, when ingested, causes internal bleeding. This inner loss of blood can make your dog’s gums white.

Autoimmune Disease

Certain autoimmune diseases, such as hemolytic anemia, can cause loss of red blood cells. Dogs with this condition have an abnormal immune system that overreacts to otherwise healthy cells. These healthy red blood cells can be destroyed, and will cause anemia.

What to do if your Dog is Getting White Gums

If you notice your dog has not been feeling well or has been showing symptoms that are unusual, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will ask you about your dog’s health history, his actual symptoms, and how long he has had those symptoms. He will then perform a complete physical examination, and you may notice that during this examination he will check his gums. 

If your dog has white gums, your veterinarian may get right to work in order to figure out the cause. He may take blood work, evaluating the biochemistry profile. A urinalysis and fecal sample analysis will be ordered. These initial tests will guide the veterinarian in making a diagnosis.

Depending on the laboratory results, your veterinarian will possibly run further tests to figure out what is causing your dog’s gums to be white, and why he may be losing blood. Once your medical professional is able to diagnose your companion with a specific reason, he will communicate with you the treatment options and prognosis.

Prevention of Getting White Gums

There may be actions you can take to prevent your dog from losing blood. Keeping all poisonous chemicals out of the reach of your dog is an effective method. Making sure you take your dog to all of his veterinary appointments will also keep you proactive in his overall health. When your dog has a physical examination, your veterinarian thoroughly checks his system and talks with you about any symptoms he may be experiencing. Keeping regular check-ups may catch any illness or disease early on so any treatment given will be successful.

Cost of Getting White Gums

The cost to treat anemia due to internal parasites, such as heartworm may be approximately $1800. The approximate cost to treat cancerous tumors, which can involve surgery and extensive follow-up, may be $9000.