Why Does My Dog Have Pale Gums?

Dr. Kali Sands Meyer

Sep 1, 2021

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Have you noticed your dog has pale gums? Are you concerned about what this could mean? Pale gums aren’t normal in dogs, but some of the causes are more serious than others. As a dog owner, it’s important to recognize when there’s something wrong with your pet and know what to do about it, too.

Causes of Pale Gums in Dogs

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of pale gums in dogs. Starting from the least concerning and going to the most troubling, we’ll help you learn which causes might be leading to this problem in your pet. In any case, pale gums warrant a check-up by a veterinarian to help determine the cause.

6 common causes of pale gums in dogs include:

Severe Fleas

In some cases of very severe flea infestation, your dog may lose so much blood to these parasites that he suffers from pale gums and other symptoms of anemia. You’ll probably know if your dog has fleas this badly; he will be itching uncontrollably and you’ll likely see fleas on yourself and your furniture, too. You can also often see them crawling on your pet.

Other types of parasites can also cause blood loss significant enough to lead to pale gums. Internal parasites can contribute to this symptom as well. Your vet will need to do a fecal exam to diagnose this type of parasite.

Blood Clotting Disorder

Just like humans, some dogs may suffer from blood clotting disorders. These are issues that cause a dog’s body to be unable to clot blood appropriately. This, in turn, leads to excessive bleeding even from small injuries and may lead to frequent bruising as well.

Blood clotting disorders can be serious if left untreated. However, if you and your vet catch this problem early enough, your dog can be treated and can live a fairly normal life under veterinary care. Therefore, this cause of pale gums isn’t considered quite as severe as some others if recognized and treated quickly.


Bloat can be extremely dangerous, especially in dogs who suffer severely from it. Bloat happens more commonly in some dogs than in others, but it is possible in any dog. It is the term for a situation in which dogs become so bloated with gas that the stomach twists and circulation is cut off almost immediately.

When this happens, your dog will have pale gums and will also have a noticeably large stomach or abdomen. Bloat also causes a lot of pain and quickly leads to death if left untreated in its most severe state. Take your dog to the vet right away if you think he may be suffering from bloat; don’t wait.


There are many situations that can cause shock. Any time a dog suffers a severe injury that leads to extensive internal or external bleeding, this may lead the dog to suffering from shock as well. When a dog is in shock, the body’s circulatory system no longer functions the way it should, and blood is not distributed throughout the body as needed. This will cause the gums to turn pale.

Your dog will also have difficulty breathing and will have a rapid, shallow heart rate while in shock. If you notice these symptoms in your dog following an injury, take him to the emergency vet immediately.

Kidney or Heart Disease

Kidney disease can affect the body’s ability to produce red blood cells. When this happens, the gums may appear pale as a result. Your dog will likely also have symptoms such as excessive thirst and urination as well as rapid, unexplained weight loss if he is suffering from kidney disease.

Heart disease can also cause pale gums, especially when the heart is no longer able to pump blood normally. Your dog may cough frequently or have a swollen abdomen from the presence of fluid due to heart disease. Heart disease is common in senior dogs.


There are many types of cancer that can affect dogs, just like humans. Some types of cancer affect the body’s ability to produce red blood cells, which can lead to pale gums as a symptom. Your dog will likely have many other symptoms of illness if he suffers from cancer, other than just pale gums.

Only a vet can diagnose your dog with cancer. If your pet does receive this diagnosis, it’s important to work with your vet to figure out the right plan of action moving forward.

Seek Veterinary Care if Your Dog Has Pale Gums

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn more about the causes of pale gums in dogs, you should be able to recognize when your dog might be dealing with an emergency situation. If you think there is any risk of an emergency, don’t wait—go to the emergency vet right away.

Pale gums aren’t always an immediate emergency, but they usually signify that something isn’t quite right. Because of this, your dog will still need to go to the vet to figure out the underlying cause of this symptom, even if you determine that the problem probably isn’t an emergency.

If you notice your dog has pale gums, don’t hesitate to call VEG. With hospitals all over the country, most open 24/7 and others open overnight and 24 hours on the weekends, our team is ready to help guide you in the best direction for your pet. You can speak directly with an emergency vet who will be able to provide advice on your pet’s condition. Call or come in to any VEG location for the emergency care your pet needs.