While you may not think to check your dogs mouth regularly, it’s something that can help you to judge the overall health of your furry best friend. Gums can be a particularly effective indicator of whether something is going on with your dog, and you can tell a lot by their colour.
If your dog is good natured and friendly, and will allow you to look inside their mouth, then naturally that makes your job a whole lot easier, and if you have recently gotten a puppy, it’s a good idea to start getting them used to you touching their mouth from a young age.
What should you be looking for when checking your dogs’ gums?
Firstly, you can begin by checking the colour of your dogs’ gums, then move on to the capillary refill time, and thirdly, hydration. Let’s take a closer look at each of these:
Gum colour – gently pull the upper lip up and look at the gum colour directly above the canine teeth. A fleshy pink colour is healthy, although gum colours can vary from dog to dog and breed to breed. However, if your dogs’ gums are very pale pink, grey, red, blue, yellow or white in colour, then this could be an indicator that all is not well, and you should seek a veterinary opinion.
If you own a breed of dog that typically has dark or black pigmentation on their gums, then it can be a little trickier to assess their gum health. What you can do instead, is to gently pull down the eyelid and examine the colour of the tissue. Try to remember what you have observed when examining your dogs’ eyes or gums, so that you will notice if anything has changed the next time you look.
Capillary refill time – put in its’ most basic terms, this refers to the amount of time that it takes for the colour of your dogs’ gums to return to normal after you’ve pressed them with your finger, to blanche them. There are many small blood vessels in gums, known as capillaries, and when they are pressed – just as with humans – blood is forced out of them and then let back in when you release the pressure, the speed at which this blood perfusion occurs is how you can check for irregularities and potential health concerns. Once you’ve pressed your dogs gum briefly with your finger, the colour should return to normal in between 1 to 2 seconds. For those dogs who have dark pigmentation on their gums, then you will need to rely on the eye tissue test as mentioned previously.
Hydration – while you are checking the colour of your dogs’ gums and touching them, take note of how moist they are, too. In a dog with normal and healthy hydration levels, the gums should feel slick and wet to the touch, if anything, a little slimy.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary when checking your dogs’ mouth, teeth and gums, do not hesitate to seek a veterinary opinion, since in some more serious cases, time can be of the absolute essence.