Swollen Gums in Dogs: Possible Causes and Remedies


Unfortunately, a gum disease often proceeds by insensible degrees at the initial stage and many owners loose the moment when minimal treatment can bring ultimate recovery. Meanwhile, gingivitis is a serious threat to animal’s health. A mucosal inflammation never develops without a significant reason, but can be fraught with loss of teeth in a dog. How to recognize that  the pet has problems with gums, and what should be undertaken in such cases?

How to Timely Recognize an Evolving Disease?

When conducting a routine examination, the pet guardian should pay attention to the following symptoms:

  1. Bright pink or red coloring of the mucous in the mouth cavity;
  2. Dark red swollen gums at the base of the teeth, dental tartar is most likely the case;
  3. Swollen one or both cheeks;
  4. Excessive salivation, sometimes with streaks of blood;
  5. Refusal from food, sometimes for a long period of time;
  6. The dog chews using one side of its mouth or spits hard chunks of food;
  7. Offensive breath;
  8. The animal shows signs of anxiety or, on the contrary, looks anaemic, would not allow you touching its muzzle;
  9. There may be traces of blood on the chin or in the animal’s water bowl;
  10. In case of a serious condition, purulent discharge can be visible on the dog’s muzzle.

Since the pet cannot eat masticate its food with inflamed gums, it is relatively easy to notice changes in its behavior. However, not all animals refuse food. Even if the dog’s gums are very swollen, it can still go for seconds and tuck into the meal enthusiastically. This happens due to the fact that the feeding process is very important for dogs and the very sense of fullness equals to safety in them. Therefore, owners should regularly domestically perform an inspection of the pet’s teeth, regardless the behavioral patterns.

Possible Causes

If the dog’s gums are swollen, this indicates some problem or other. It can be of a serious nature too, a pathological processes even; but it may as well indicate some insignificant difficulties that can be cured by a thorough cleaning of the mouth cavity. Possible causes are usually these:

  • Hard particles of food that have firmly stuck in between the teeth, which not only causes continual pressure on the gum, but also spreads a bacterial infection.
  • Dental tartar, caries, broken teeth – these are not only the source of the bacterial formation, but also high probability of mechanical damage to the gums.
  • Injuries to the mucosa.
  • Severe vitamin deficiency or autoimmune diseases, allergic reactions to food or products.

Whatever be the underlying cause, swollen gums are only a symptom, not an independent diagnosis. Gingivitis almost always is of a bacterial origin, which means infection or microorganisms on the mucous membrane. The dog’s mouth is not a safe medium for untreated open wounds, especially if there is food stuck between the teeth or there is dental tartar that provides constant pressure on the gum. If immune system disorder, exhaustion, or, contrary, hypervitaminosis, was suspected, mucous membrane diseases usually develop into erosions.

Photo of Swollen Gums in Dogs

gums swelling in dogs gums swelling up in dogs in dog swollen gums swollen gum in dog swollen gums above tooth in dogs

How to Inspect the Pet?

Regular inspection of the dog’s mouth (that can be conducted at home) will help the owner to notice in time if the dog’s gums are swollen or if there are signs of dental tartar. The procedure is relatively simple. You must first sanitize your hands, or at least wash them thoroughly. Gently lifting the lips with fingertips, palpate slightly those places that look redder and more prominent than the rest. If the animal shows signs of discomfort whines or tries to escape, you can be sure that a sore spot has been detected. If there no other significant symptoms, you can start by applying some soothing gel for the gums (these can be purchased in a veterinary drug store). Do not try to use tooth rinses designed for people, as it can be dangerous for the dog. The same goes for the human toothpaste.

Preventive Measures

As the phrase goes, it is easier to prevent then to cure, therefore. Here is a list of simple tips that can help you prevent gum diseases in your dog.

  1. Feed the pet on schedule and with suitable meals. Mixing dry and natural foods leads to allergies and development of dental tartar.
  2. Teeth cleaning. There are even special toothpastes and brushes for animals in the stores. A veterinarian can show you how to perform the procedure and how to hold the dog’s head.
  3. Cleansing gels for mouth cavity should be applied at the first signs of a gum disease.
  4. Routine inspection of the mouth cavity helps to expose the hidden problems at an early stage.
  5. When applicable, administration of immunizers prescribed by a veterinarian. Do not risk spontaneous vitamin administration as it can lead to hypervitaminosis in a pet.

Animals often develop inflammations of the mouth cavity mucous and gums swellings, and is not often a sign of a serious condition. It is more likely just an allergic reaction to something or an accidental injury that is easy to heal when aided with special gels. In order to avoid gingivitis and related unpleasant conditions, you should make sure to monitor the dog’s hygiene and conduct regular inspections of its teeth and gums state.

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