Petriage Clinical Insights

IMPORTANT: This article, which is provided for educational purposes only, is based on published veterinary data and decades of work with pets and pet parents. The information provided here is not designed to be comprehensive but to help you avoid the pitfalls of online misinformation and most importantly, to frame the conversation you should have with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian’s perspective may differ from what is expressed here. Always consult with your veterinarian.

Checking Color of Gums

The color of your pet's mucous membranes is a useful indicator of their overall health. The gums are typically the easiest mucous membranes to view.


  1. Gently lift the upper lip near the canine tooth and observe the gum color. Your pet's gums should be pink or bright pink. Some pets have naturally dark black gums, which can make it difficult to observe changes in color. 
  2. If your pet has naturally dark gum tissue, look at the inside lining of the eyelid. Gently pull down on the lower eyelid. This tissue should be pink or bright pink.
  3. If you have other pets nearby, you can compare gum colors. Healthy cat gums are typically a little lighter in color than in dogs. Therefore, it is most helpful to compare pets of the same species. 

Where to Check Color in Cats

Where to Check Color in Dogs

Color Guide & Warnings

A bright pink color is normal and healthy.
Bright red
Bright red or brick red color could be an indication of a serious systemic medical issue. However, some pets might have bright red gum tissue due to inflammation of the gum. Contact your vet for more information and guidance. 
Slightly pale
Slightly pale coloration could be an early indication of a serious condition. Contact your vet ASAP for further evaluation.
Any obviously pale coloration is a medical emergency. Contact your vet immediately.
White coloration of the mucous membranes is a medical emergency. Take your pet to the vet immediately.
This photo illustrates a dire medical situation. However, even a hint of blue or gray coloration of the mucous membranes could indicate a serious medical emergency. Contact your vet ASAP.
Faint yellow tint
A light yellow shade could indicate a serious liver disease or blood condition. Contact your vet ASAP.
Solid yellow
A saturated yellow hue of the mucous membranes indicates a medical emergency. Contact your vet ASAP.
Orange or dark yellow
A saturated or dark yellow/orange hue indicates a medical emergency. Contact your vet ASAP.