The color of animals' gums and other mucus-membranes (nose, eyes and body orifices) is an important indicator of health conditions.
Pink is the color of life. Healthy animals have nice, rosy, pink gums that are covered with a thin layer of clear saliva. The moisture and the color indicate good hydration and circulating, well-oxygenated, blood. Dark, spotty, pigmentation of the gums is normal and, if extensive, it will make it harder to evaluate the condition of the gums.
Red - Intense color may indicate inflammation, overheating, excitement, or dilation of blood vessels. Some poisonings and severe infections will cause a bright red color of the gums. Gingivitis will appear as reddening of the gum line at the base of the teeth, which may extend to more areas in severe cases.
Purple- If it's not a Chow-Chow (which have purple tongues by nature), it's not good. Purple gums and tongue indicate lack of oxygen and is always an emergency. This condition is called cyanosis, and may indicate severe problems with the heart, lungs or otherwise oxygen-poor blood. Airway obstruction and suffocation (choking) also cause cyanosis.
Brownish gums are typical to altered blood composition due to Tylenol and other toxicities. It is also an emergency and an indication of serious problems. This condition is called Methemoglobinemia and is seen mostly in cats.
White or pale gums indicate lack of blood. Young animals have lighter gum color than adults. Puppies and kittens often have pale gums because of internal (worms, blood-cell parasites) and external parasites (fleas, ticks). Inadequate circulation due to shock, heart disease or even fear and stress (such as a visit to the vet) will cause the gums to "lose color". Loss of blood and anemia of any origin are serious causes of "white gums" and are often associated with weakness and other signs of disease.
Yellowish discoloration of the mucus membranes (Jaundice) indicates a liver problem. The most readily noticeable changes are at the "whites of the eyes". The liver is a major organ and any liver disease needs immediate medical attention.
If it's not pink- your pet is not all right and you should see the vet ASAP.[Back]