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BLEEDING GUMS

If you see blood on your pet's gums, gently examine the inside of her mouth to find the source of the bleeding. The cause could be harmless or serious. Here's what you need to know if you notice you pet's gums are bleeding.

Causes

Bleeding gums can result from something as simple as a scratch, a bone or some other object wedged between the teeth. Or, this condition may indicate a life-threatening bleeding disorder that requires immediate veterinary care. Other possible causes include severe periodontal disease with loose or abscessed teeth, a broken or missing tooth, a deep cut to the gums or roof of the mouth, a polyp or tumor in the mouth, an inflammatory or infectious disease, liver or kidney failure and cancer.

Infections and other diseases can cause bleeding gums. A diseased liver, for example, stops producing certain critical blood clotting factors. Toxins released from failing kidneys can cause bleeding disorders as well.

What You Can Do at Home

Your pet won't just open up and say 'ahh' for you, but with gentle coaxing, you might get a peek inside. Look for evidence of a cut or a foreign object wedged in the mouth. If you see a cut, apply direct pressure with a gauze pad or small cloth for five to 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. Remove any objects you find stuck in her mouth. If your pet acts energetic and the bleeding stops, she's probably safe.

When to Call the Veterinarian

If you see a missing tooth or puffy gums, call your veterinarian for an appointment. And, if you see blood pockets anywhere in your pet's mouth or if she shows signs of lethargy or exhibits any other abnormal symptoms, get immediate help.

What the Veterinarian Will Do


Your pet will undergo a nose-to-tail physical examination. If the doctor finds a cut deep enough to require stitches, he or she will anesthetize your pet for the procedure. If an oral polyp or tumor is the culprit, the veterinarian will surgically remove it and send the tissue to a laboratory to determine whether it's malignant or benign. In the case of dental disease, your pet will need a professional dental cleaning and possibly tooth extraction.

If your veterinarian can't find an obvious cause of bleeding during the examination, he or she may collect a blood sample to check the clotting ability, count the number of platelets and red and white blood cells, and check internal organ function with a serum chemistry profile.

Infectious causes may require additional testing, such as blood antibody tests. If the doctor suspects bleeding elsewhere in the body, X-rays or an ultrasound examination may identify the cause. Seriously ill pets may also need hospitalization.

The good news is your veterinarian can treat most of the conditions that cause your pet's gums to bleed. The trick is to be aware of what's going on in your pet's mouth.