What Your Dog’s Gum Color Tells You
Look at your dog’s gums while she is at rest. Lift your dog’s upper lip and look at the color of the gums above an upper canine tooth — the gums should be pink.
Do a capillary refill test by pressing on the gums with your finger. When you remove your finger, the gums should briefly be white but should return to their pink color within two seconds.
The appearance of the gums is very informative. If the gums are blue, the dog lacks oxygen. If they are white, the dog has lost blood, either internally or externally. If the gums are purple or gray and there is a slow capillary refill, the dog is probably in shock. If they are bright red, she may be fighting a systemic infection or may have been exposed to a toxin.
Some dogs have black-pigmented gums, which can make assessment difficult. For these dogs, you need to examine the pink tissue on the inside of the lower eyelid by gently pulling the eyelid down. In this case, you can only observe the color of the tissue — you can’t perform the capillary refill test — but colors mean the same thing in gums and inner eyelids.