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Black gums above the teeth in dogs

Updated June 15, 2017

If you've ever seen a dog bark or pant, it's likely you've seen their gums. Unlike healthy human gums, which are light pink and uniformly coloured, a dog's gums are often splodged with what appears to be black growths. While possibly unsettling to see, these black marks are normal for the dog and have no ill effects on its health or well-being.

Looking at your Dog's Gums

To look at the colour of your dog's gums, talk to it softly while caressing its snout. As you calm the dog, gently lift its lips on either side of the snout to see the gums. They should be pink, black or spotting like the fur of the dog, but never yellow or green.

Why are Dogs' Gums Black?

Basically, certain breeds of dogs simply have darker pigment in their gums. Like fur colour, gum colour is passed along genetically, so the colour of a dog's gums is up to a measure of chance. There's nothing wrong with dark gums, so don't worry about that specific colouration.

How to Examine Black Gums

Examining the gum colour of a dog with dark gums is slightly more complex than a dog with light gums. To check the true colour, you need to see past the black colouration. To do this, lift up the gum above the dog's canine or eye-tooth. Immediately above the tooth, you should be able to see the gum's true colour, allowing you to make an assessment of your dog's health.

Signs of Trouble

If your dog's gums are a colour other than pink or black, take him or her to your veterinarian as soon as possible. An infection in the mouth, which can be indicated by odd coloured gums, can quickly spread throughout the dog's body. This means that a simple sore can quickly turn into a life-threatening heart infection if not treated properly, so take any changes to your dog's gum's physical appearance seriously.

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About the Author

Alexander Rudinski has been writing professionally since 2008. His work appears on the Nerve website, where he continues to work as a photographer and writer. Rudinski has a Bachelor of Science in communications, concentrating on documentary video, photography and professional writing. He graduated from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.