Why does my dog have black gums?

Knowing the color of your dog’s gums is crucial in determining their health status, even though examining their mouth may not be desirable. It is essential to be aware of your dog’s normal gum color, as any alteration in color could indicate an underlying issue with your furry friend.

If your dog has gums that are black, what is the reason behind it? And what does it signify?

Right here, you will discover all the essential information about black gums in dogs and what actions you should take.

Why Does My Dog Have Black Gums?

There are various explanations as to why your dog‘s gums may appear black. Certain reasons may not be a cause for concern, whereas others may necessitate a trip to your nearby veterinarian.

Reason 1: They Are Born With Black Gums 

Some breeds of dogs have black gums due to the presence of a natural pigment called melanin in their mucus membranes. This pigment causes their gums to appear black, spotted, or mottled. Depending on the lighting conditions, the black gums may also appear blue or purple due to variations in tone.

Dogs of these breeds often have black or bluish tongues, as well as darker lips and snouts.

It is recommended to examine your dog’s gums when you first get them to establish a baseline for any future color changes. Observe their mouth during activities such as yawning, playing with toys, or eating treats.

Dog Breeds That Naturally Have Black Gums 

Most dog breeds may have black gums or black spots in their mouth naturally.

  • Akita
  • Airedale terrier
  • Australian shepherd
  • Black Russian terrier
  • Chow chow
  • Dalmatian
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German shepherd
  • Golden retriever
  • Irish setter
  • Komondor
  • Labrador retriever
  • Mastiff breeds
  • Newfoundland
  • Pit bull breeds
  • Portuguese water dog
  • Pumi
  • Rottweiler
  • Shar Pei

Reason 2: Periodontal Disease 

If you observe black spots on your dogs gums, it could be an indication of gum disease or periodontal disease. Gum illness is one of the most prevalent ailments in dogs. Research has revealed that almost 90% of dogs under 2 years old have experienced some form of gum disease.

Black gums in dogs can be a sign of periodontal disease, which is caused by bacteria that damage the gums, bones, and other parts of the mouth; certain genetic factors found in brachycephalic breeds and malocclusion can also contribute to this condition, along with poor dental hygiene, making it crucial to prioritize preventative dental care for your furry friend.

Typically, periodontal disease is detected and addressed only during advanced stages. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, characterized by inflammation of your dog’s gums, bleeding gums when brushing or chewing food, foul breath, and gum discoloration.

As the stages of periodontal disease progress from 2 to 4, the severity of symptoms increases, with stage 4 being the most critical, characterized by rotting teeth, loose teeth, and missing teeth in your dog.

Why is my dog’s lip turning pink?

Reason 3: Gum Inflammation

Although gum disease includes gum inflammation or gingivitis, it is important to mention it separately. If your dog has gingivitis, you will notice a black line on their gums located either above or below their teeth.

If your dog has black gums, they may be experiencing inflammation and other changes in the color and texture of their mouth, including plaque buildup, stained teeth, swollen gums, and loose teeth that could be in the early stages.

Reason 4: Oral Cancer 

Black gums or black spots on your dog’s gums could be a sign of oral cancer, although it’s important to note that not all types of oral cancer cause discoloration.

Black gums in dogs could be a sign of different types of oral cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, and melanoma, which are caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors that make it challenging to identify the exact cause.

Certain dog breeds such as German shepherds, chows, miniature poodles, Weimaraners, and boxers are more prone to developing oral cancer.

Black gums can be a symptom of oral cancers in dogs, along with other signs such as lumps or swelling in the mouth, bad breath, bleeding gums, oral pain, and difficulty eating. Additionally, dogs with oral cancer may experience weight loss, lack of appetite, loose teeth, and a swollen face or jaw.

Reason 5: Oxygen Deprivation 

Your pup may have gums that appear black, but are actually a dark purple or blue color due to insufficient oxygen in their bloodstream. Congestive heart failure is the primary cause of this lack of oxygen, though there are other potential explanations.

Black gums in dogs can occur when the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen, causing cellular death due to oxygen starvation, resulting in a bruising or purple-bluish color that appears black.

Reason 6: Acanthosis Nigricans 

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition that lacks sufficient documentation in dogs , and it manifests as a dark pigmentation that affects their skin, including the gums.

Black gums are not the only areas where you may notice darkening in your dog’s skin. Friction-prone regions such as their groin and armpits can also become raised, hairless, and thickened to the point of feeling leathery. These patches of skin can cause your dog to feel itchy and experience inflammation and pain, as well as develop greasy and unpleasant-smelling areas.

Black gums in Dachshunds are often caused by a hereditary form of acanthosis nigricans.

The second form of this illness is the result of an underlying issue such as obesity, mange, hypothyroidism, a bacterial or yeast infection, or allergic dermatitis.

Why Would My Dog’s Gums Become Black Suddenly?

There are several possible explanations for why your dog‘s gums may unexpectedly become black. These include sickness and lack of oxygen, poisoning, and the possibility that they ingested something that discolored their gums (such as when my dog consumed my licorice candy or stumbled upon a container of black food dye).

Why are there black scabs on my dog?

Regularly inspect your dog’s gums to make sure they do not change color suddenly, including turning black or any other unusual or unhealthy shade, in order to maintain their overall health.

Should My Dog’s Gums Be Black?

Unless your dog belongs to a breed that naturally has black gums, it is not normal for them to have black or discolored gums. In such cases, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian and take your dog for a check-up to determine the underlying cause of the discoloration and receive appropriate treatment.

What to Do About My Dog’s Black Gums?

The appropriate response to black gums in your dog will vary depending on the symptoms that are causing the discoloration.

Assuming your dog has naturally black gums and is not experiencing any other indications such as halitosis, bleeding gums, or others, you can be certain that your dog’s oral health is in good condition. It is recommended to maintain proper oral hygiene and schedule routine veterinary check-ups for your furry friend.

Depending on other symptoms or if your dog’s gums are naturally black, the course of action may vary.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease 

If your dog has periodontal disease, it is crucial to seek veterinary care. The diagnosis for this dental condition involves the veterinarian examining the gingival sulcus and identifying any irregularities. Although X-rays may be necessary, your furry friend will require anesthesia for this process.

Depending on the stage of gum disease, the treatment for your dog will differ after receiving a formal diagnosis.

Stage 1 (Gingivitis): 

  • A professional dental cleaning done while the dog is under anesthesia
  • It is recommended to clean your dog’s teeth on a daily basis.

Stage 2: 

  • Deep cleaning of unusual periodontal pockets and the use of antibiotic gel can be done during a professional dental cleaning session that requires general anesthesia.

Stage 3: 

    • Your veterinarian may perform complex restorative treatments based on the condition of your dog’s teeth.

Your vet will work with you to develop a comprehensive plan for taking care of your dog’s dental health at home.

  • Alternatively, your veterinarian may remove any decaying or unstable teeth.

Stage 4: 

  • If your dog has black gums, it may indicate that their teeth are in a diseased state and cannot be salvaged, thus requiring the veterinarian to remove decayed teeth that can lead to discomfort and infection.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can result in additional health problems including damage to organs, oral cancer, eye complications, oronasal fistulas, tooth abscesses, and fractures of the jaw.

Treatment for Gum Inflammation

If you think your dog may have gingivitis, it is recommended to bring them to a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. After confirming that gingivitis is the reason behind the onset of black gums, the vet will perform a professional teeth cleaning procedure to eliminate tartar buildup and polish your dog’s teeth. This process aids in preventing bacteria from thriving and reproducing on your dog’s teeth.

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If the black gum discoloration is accompanied by severe inflammation, your veterinarian may opt to surgically remove affected gum tissue. Additionally, if a bacterial infection is present, your dog will require a prescribed antibiotic regimen from the vet.

The veterinarian will also advise on home care for your dog, which may involve frequent brushing and rinsing with specialized toothpastes or formulas, along with providing chew toys and treats to assist in the removal of plaque.

Treatment for Oral Cancer 

If your dog has been diagnosed with oral cancer, the most effective treatment is usually surgery, although chemotherapy in the form of immunotherapy or radiation therapy may also be suggested as they can aid in eliminating the cancerous cells.

Treatment for Oxygen Deprivation 

If your dog has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, their lungs may become filled with fluid, which puts a strain on the heart and causes oxygen deprivation. The darkened gums are a result of this lack of oxygen, but proper treatment can help to improve blood oxygen levels and restore the gums to their natural color.

If your dog has black gums, treatment may include administering IV medications like bronchodilators, antihistamines, and antibiotics, as well as diuretics to lower pulmonary pressure and restore normal heart function, which will allow oxygen to be pumped to the cells once more.

Treatment for Acanthosis Nigricans 

If your dog has the hereditary type of acanthosis nigricans, it cannot be cured, but if detected early, your veterinarian can recommend treatment to assist your dog in managing the condition and preventing its advancement. However, if the skin disease is not identified early or worsens, more aggressive therapy will be necessary.

If the cause of the skin disease is an underlying condition, the veterinarian must address it first to eliminate the symptoms of acanthosis nigricans, which is one type of skin disease that can cause black gums in dogs.

If your dog has acanthosis nigricans and is overweight, weight loss treatment will be suggested along with treatments such as shampoo therapy, topical ointments, oral vitamin E, or antibiotic therapy.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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