Natural Remedies for Red Gums in Dogs

by Susan Leisure, Demand Media
    Your dog's gums can be a window to his health.

    Your dog's gums can be a window to his health.

    Your dog's gums can tell you a lot about his health. Red gums can indicate a simple case of gingivitis or be a symptom of a more serious health issue. Learn the natural color of your dog's gums so you can monitor his health with just a look inside his mouth.

    Gingivitis

    The most common cause of red gums in dogs is gingivitis. When bacteria builds up along the gum line, it can sneak under the gums and cause inflammation. As bacteria increases, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and small pockets of infection develop. The gums become more inflamed and red, often bleeding easily. The best remedy for gingivitis is to improve your dog's dental health. According to veterinarian Karen Becker, chewing on a raw bone is the equivalent of brushing and flossing your dog's teeth. Chewing a raw bone once a week may help alleviate gingivitis and help get your dog's gums back to normal.

    Plaque and Tartar

    Other common causes of red gums are plaque and tartar. Plaque is the film that covers your dog's teeth on a daily basis and has to be scrubbed off. If plaque remains for too long, it will start to harden and become tartar. As the hard tartar builds up along the gum line, your dog's gums will become irritated and inflamed, and will look bright red along the gum line. As with gingivitis, plaque and tartar can be controlled naturally by giving your dog raw bones to chew. You can also try giving your dog a deer or elk antler. The textured antlers will provide more cleaning success. If your dog will allow you to brush his teeth, try dipping the toothbrush in Vitamin C or make a paste from baking soda and water. Never use human toothpaste, as the fluoride can damage your dog's teeth and the paste can make your dog sick if he swallows it.

    Heat Stroke

    Bright red gums are a symptom of heat stroke in dogs. When we humans get really hot, our skin gets flushed and bright red. A similar process happens to dogs' gums, as blood circulation increases to try to cool the body. If your dog has been in hot weather or a hot car, or he has been playing very hard and his gums are bright red, you may be facing a serious emergency. If your dog does not appear to be in distress, you can try lowering his body temperature naturally by placing him in front of a fan, placing him in a cool bath (not ice cold) or rubbing ice cubes on his pads. If your dog is having trouble breathing or standing, is having tremors or is unresponsive, get your dog to a veterinarian as quickly as you can, as heat stroke can kill a dog in as little as 20 minutes if left untreated.

    Bloat

    Bloat is a life-threatening condition where excess gas in the dog's digestive tract causes the stomach to distend and rotate. As a dog's body goes into shock in response, he will show symptoms of bloat throughout his body. The gums of dogs with bloat will turn dark red, gray or white. Other symptoms of bloat include a distended abdomen, unproductive vomiting, lethargy, crying in pain and lack of appetite. If your dog has a dark red gums and other symptoms of bloat, you must take him to the veterinarian immediately. Without aggressive treatment, bloat is fatal. While there is no natural treatment for bloat, some simple steps can help prevent this condition. First, avoid foods with grains and kibble, which are the main diets of dogs that develop bloat, according to veterinarian Peter Dobias. He also suggests feeding raw bones to help develop strong stomach muscles. Finally, don't let your dog exercise within three hours of eating a meal.

    About the Author

    Susan Leisure is the director of an animal welfare organization and owner of a holistic pet supply store in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a master's degree from Emory University, and is currently completing a degree in clinical pet nutrition.

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