If dogs have black gums, this is usually due to hereditary pigment spots. In individual cases, however, it can also be a symptom of dental problems, a lack of oxygen, inflammation of the gums, or even a tumor.
It is usually only a problem if the gums suddenly turn black and were not this color from birth.
However, since very few owners take a closer look at the inside of their mouths, many are amazed at first sight. Here is a brief overview:
|Causes||Most Common Symptoms|
|Pigment spots||Exist since birth and do not change|
|Lack of oxygen||Gums initially turn bluish and become increasingly black within a few months|
|Inflammation of the gums||Gums are very red and there are only black spots on the edge of one tooth|
|Cyanosis||The entire mouth is colored in a color combination of blue, gray, and black|
|Dental problems||The discoloration only occurs under the affected teeth|
|Tumor||Black bumps form on the gums|
Then let’s take a closer look at the individual causes and their symptoms.
1. Pigment Spots
Pigment spots arise when individual cells produce too much of the skin pigment melanin. In contrast to humans, this also often occurs in dogs in the mouth.
In the two Chinese breeds “Chow-Chow” and “Shar-Pei” even the entire mouth, including the tongue and gums, is black.
The reason for this is still unclear. It is assumed that a corresponding gene mutation occurred thousands of years ago.
What is striking here is that these types of pigment spots have been present since birth. But other breeds also get black spots on the gums more often:
- Labrador Retrievers
- German shepherd dog
- Golden retriever
- Irish Setters
In many cases, the top of the mouth is also completely black. However, there is no reason to worry here. Because pigment spots are usually harmless.
Certain breeds, and mixed breeds of these breeds, are more likely to have black pigmentation spots on the gums, roof of the mouth, or tongue. Since this is just a concentration of melanin, these types of spots are considered harmless.
2. Lack of Oxygen
The gums are only pink because they are constantly supplied with oxygenated blood. However, various breathing problems can reduce this intake. This includes:
When the lower airways become inflamed due to bacteria or viruses, oxygen uptake, and the lungs also suffer.
The red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. But if there are too few of them, it leads to an oxygen deficiency.
In the beginning, the gums here are usually bluish. After several months, however, it can also turn completely black.
- Tracheal collapse
When the trachea is too weak and collapses, less oxygen automatically comes through when you breathe. Small breeds in particular are affected.
- Lung infection
If the pump in the chest cavity is inflamed, it also loses part of its function. Among other things, this also affects the oxygen uptake.
Various breathing problems or even blood diseases can lead to both the brain and the gums getting too little oxygen. Black spots usually appear here over a period of several months. Before that, the gums are rather bluish.
3. Inflammation of The Gums
According to studies, inflammation of the gums is the most common disease of all dogs. Around 9 out of 10, dogs are said to experience it by the time they are 2 years old.
Depending on the stage, doctors distinguish between two different types:
- Gingivitis = Inflammation of the gums (phase 1)
- Periodontitis = Diseases of the periodontium (phase 2)
Gingivitis is most commonly caused by bacteria building up and multiplying in the mouth. Typical symptoms of this are:
- Strong bad breath
- Loose tooth
- Touch sensitivity
- Black gums around the tooth
- Severe redness
- Tooth discoloration
- Swollen gums
For treatment, the teeth are usually first cleaned professionally. If the infection is bacterial, antibiotics are often prescribed.
To prevent this, it is important to ensure proper dental care. Doctors recommend brushing your dog’s teeth every day. Dental care toys can also help here.
Dogs with inflamed gums are more likely to have visible tooth discoloration and black spots around their teeth. It is usually also recognizable by the fact that affected dogs smell strongly from the mouth and are sensitive to touch.
Surely you have heard of “jaundice”, in which the skin turns yellowish. Cyanosis is the counterpart in blue. It is therefore also called “blue addiction”.
The reason for this is that too little oxygen is transported in the blood itself. Depending on the severity, the gums turn either blue or black.
Since the fur usually covers most of the skin, symptoms are often first noticed in the mouth. Because the tongue is also getting darker. Typical causes are here:
- Heart failure
- Internal injuries
- Breathing problems
- Internal inflammation
- Lung problems
In some dogs, however, it is said to be due to genetics or even birth defects. The treatment depends on the underlying cause.
If you suspect it, you should contact your vet immediately. Blue addiction is often just a symptom of another disease.
In dogs with cyanosis, the entire mouth becomes darker and darker over time. First, the tongue and gums turn bluish, then gray, and finally almost black. A lack of oxygen supply is responsible for this.
5. Dental Problems
Since the teeth are also connected to the gums via the roots, this can also be the cause of the problem. In particular, the following problems come into question here:
- Tooth fracture
When a tooth breaks, chips, or splits, there is almost always severe pain. Affected dogs therefore often have problems eating.
It can usually be recognized by the fact that the dog chews on one side, drool profusely, refuses to eat, and is sensitive to touch.
If left untreated, it can also cause blood to pool underneath the tooth. The black spots on the gums here are small blood-filled chambers.
When minerals crystallize on the teeth, a stone-like plaque can form. This usually causes the tooth to turn slightly yellowish.
The problem? Excessive tartar also makes it much easier for bacteria to get stuck, which can lead to inflammation. Regular brushing of teeth can help here.
Both tooth fractures and excessive tartar can cause problems in dogs. In both cases, small cysts can form under the affected teeth and fill with blood. It can be recognized by blue or even black spots on the gums.
6. Tumor In The Mouth
In rare individual cases, the discoloration can also be due to cancer. Around every 14th tumor in dogs develops in the oral cavity.
As with most types of cancer, the cause is unclear. However, bitches are said to be affected less frequently and the following breeds more frequently:
- German boxer
- German shepherd dog
- Golden retriever
- Miniature poodle
- Gordon Setter
- Chow Chow
It can usually be recognized by black lumps on the gums and a bad breath that is becoming more penetrating. Other typical signs are:
- Heavy drooling
- blood in the mouth
- Problems chewing
- Constant swallowing
- Loose tooth
- Weird ulcer
- Dog refuses food
- Swollen gums
An early diagnosis is the be-all and end-all to prevent spreading. The tumor can then be surgically removed. Otherwise, radiation therapy is used.
A tumor in the mouth is not only reflected in the dog’s behavior but also visually. There is usually severe swelling, a visible ulcer, and black spots on the gums. Bad breath and blood can also indicate this.
- Chewing pencils: Bored dogs are more likely to chew pencils, which can stain the inside of their mouth.
- Acanthosis nigricans: This rare skin disorder causes the skin to turn dark or even black in certain regions.
- Injuries: During the healing of any wounds, the gums can temporarily turn dark red, bluish, gray, or black.
- Eruption hematoma: Small cysts that can fill with blood sometimes develop before a tooth falls out.