Pale Gums in a Dog: Bailey’s Story—What Would You Do if It Was Your Dog?

Do you know what it means when your dog has pale mucous membranes, such as gums? Do you think it would be an emergency?

Pale, gray or white mucous membranes can be a sign of anemia, shock, blood loss or, severe dehydration, and more. The first thing that would be on my mind is anemia, an insufficient amount of red blood cells. Why is that a problem? Because not enough red blood cells means not enough oxygen for the body to function. That’s why pale gums are an emergency.

What can cause anemia?

That’s what your veterinarian needs to figure out as soon as possible. In general, anemia is caused by one of the following problems:

  • blood loss
  • red blood cells destructions
  • decreased production of red blood cells
Pale Gums in a Dog: Bailey's Story

Bailey’s story

Bailey was a two-year-old Husky. Her parents were on their honeymoon. Bailey’s sitters called them to report that Bailey wasn’t quite herself.

It seemed logical that missing her parents and having to stay in a different house would make Bailey sad and change her behavior. She was quiet, withdrawn and not interested in activity or interaction.

Then Bailey’s sitters reported that her gums were pale too.

Unfortunately, the news did not trigger a red flag in Bailey’s parents. It would have but it did not. It is so important to be aware of the signs of a medical emergency.

The symptoms continue

Bailey kept getting better and then worse the whole while. One day she’d show a little improvement, the next day get worse again. She wasn’t playing or eating. Her gums would pink up a little bit every not and then but mostly remained pale and even white.

When her parents returned, they finally did realize something was not right with Bailey.

At the veterinarian

Normal gum color can differ from breed to breed. The gums of white dogs do have color that is naturally paler.

Bailey’s gums were a muddy pale color—definitely not normal for any breed. Bailey’s veterinarian recognized an emergency right away.

Further examination also revealed that Bailey had an increased heart and respiratory rate and a palpable mass in her belly.

Then Bailey’s urine turned orange.

Are you getting an idea what was wrong with Bailey? Would you recognize her signs as an emergency it was? What would you do if it was your dog?

Read Bailey’s story here.

Related articles:
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: What Can Your Dog’s Gums And Tongue Tell You?
Are Pale Gums an Emergency?

Further reading:
Anemia in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsDog health advocacyEmergenciesLethargyLoss of appetiteOrange urinePale gumsReal-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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