Have you ever stopped to inspect your dog’s lips? It might seem like an odd thing to focus on but your dog’s lips can reveal a lot about its health.
Imagine glancing down one day and realizing that your dog’s lips have turned pink.
Is this a cause for concern or just a harmless change in appearance?
Your dog’s lips turning pink can be due to a loss in pigmentation. This can happen to many dog breeds and is considered normal. Any swelling, bleeding or inflammation that accompanies the pigment change should be checked by the vet.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at pigmentation issues in dogs and other underlying medical conditions that could cause your dog’s lips to turn pink.
Why Are My Dog’s Lips Turning Pink?
Your dog’s lips turning pink could be a permanent or temporary change in pigmentation. Most of the time, there’s not much to worry about as it is a normal process.
However, there will be instances when there is a cause for concern.
Here are some possible reasons that can cause pink lips in your dog.
Vitiligo is a condition whereby the skin begins to lose its natural pigments. It can happen to your dog’s skin and it occurs in patches.
Areas that are affected by vitiligo can turn white or a very pale shade of pink.
Melanin is the cells that give our skin its natural color. For dogs with vitiligo, these cells are destroyed causing the skin to lose its pigment.
This condition starts as small spots and grows to larger areas over the years.
It is said that the famous pop star Michael Jackson suffers from a severe case of vitiligo.
Vitiligo in dogs can appear on the face before moving on to the body.
2. Allergic Reaction
There are times when allergies can cause your dog’s lips to turn pink. An allergic reaction happens when your dog comes into contact with an allergen.
This could be a certain material or food.
Allergies can cause a pink discoloration in your dog’s lips due to swelling and inflammation. You might also notice rashes, crustiness or sores on or around your dog’s lips.
Your dog might also experience itching and skin irritation on its face and body and will be scratching itself for relief.
As your dog’s red blood cells break down due to wear and tear, porphyrin is formed as a by-product.
Porphyrin contains iron and is secreted via your dog’s poo, saliva and dog’s tears.
This compound is very noticeable on dogs with light fur as it tends to stain it pinkish brown.
Porphyrin can also stain the area around your dog’s mouth and cause your dog’s lip to turn pink.
4. Skin Infection
Dogs can be as curious as cats and explore the world with their nose and mouth.
There are times when your dog might have bitten or picked up something sharp with its mouth.
The object could have caused a cut or punctured your dog’s lip thus causing a skin infection.
When this happens, it will cause your dog to look like it has pink lips from the swelling.
5. Uveodermatologic Syndrome
This syndrome causes the dog’s body to break down its pigment cells. This condition can cause your dog’s fur, lips, nose or any part that has pigments to lose its natural color.
The main concern for dogs with this condition is the eyes. This disease will attack the eyes causing them to become red and painful.
There is a chance that the dog could become blind over time.
Pigmentation on your dog’s lip can also be caused by its age. As dogs get older, they might lose their pigmentation thus causing their lips to turn pink.
Puppies on the other hand have yet to fully develop their melanin which makes their lips more pinkish in color compared to an older dog.
Age-related changes in appetite and nutrition can also impact your dog’s health.
Be careful when trying to beef up your dog’s weight with Ensure which is a meal supplement.
7. Sun Exposure
The color of your dog’s skin and fur can also be influenced by the amount of sun exposure that it gets.
Too much sun exposure can cause skin pigmentation in your dog’s lips thus causing them to turn pink.
If you have a dog that loves the outdoors, chances are it has sun-bleached skin which causes its fur color to lighten.
The amount of sun exposure that your dog gets during the summer and winter months can cause pink spots to appear around the dog’s nose and mouth.
The change in pigmentation in your dog’s lips and fur may be permanent or temporary.
This discoloration by the sun can also happen to dogs with brown noses.
A serious condition like cancer can cause your dog’s lip to start turning pink.
It can be hard to detect as it usually seems like your dog is having some pigmentation issues with its lips and nose.
There is a high probability that the cancer cells can also spread to your dog’s body over time.
9. Oral Papillomas
The papillomavirus causes lesions, sores and warts to form on the dog’s lips which can give a pinkish appearance.
It can be quite commonly seen in young dogs under the age of three years old as their immune system has yet to develop fully.
As the dog gets older and the immune system more robust, it will be strong enough to suppress the virus and heal itself.
This is similar to the HPV infection that is present in humans that can cause the growth of warts.
10. Trauma To The Mouth
Dogs are very playful creatures and can get too carried away when playing. They might knock their lips or mouth area against a hard object by accident.
The force of the impact can cause injury to your dog’s lips causing them to swell and turn pink.
Lupus is an autoimmune system that can affect both humans and dogs.
Discoid lupus erythematosus is the most common form of lupus in dogs which causes their skin to crust and scab.
It could start as a white salt line on your dog’s nose and spread to other areas like the lips and internal organs.
This disease suppresses the dog’s immune system and can be treated with topical and systemic medications.
Dogs with lupus need to limit the amount of sun exposure to avoid UV light.
What To Do If My Dog’s Lips Are Turning Pink?
If you notice that your dog’s lips are turning pink, the first thing that you need to do is to closely inspect its mouth.
- Are your dog’s lips swollen?
- Are there any signs of bleeding?
- Do you notice a change in your dog’s breath?
- Are there any sores or rashes on the lips and mouth area?
- Is the discoloration getting more obvious by the day?
- Does it seem that your dog is in pain?
If your dog’s lips are turning pink very gradually and it seems that the issue isn’t causing your dog any discomfort or pain, it could just be due to aging or sun exposure.
But if you notice anything else out of the ordinary, it would be best to bring your dog to the vet for a thorough check-up.
The vet might require a tissue sample or blood test just to make sure it isn’t due to an underlying medical condition.
If the pink lips are due to skin infections or lip dermatitis, the vet will most probably give you some antibiotic cream to apply to your dog’s lips.
Several dog breeds are more prone to having skin conditions that can affect the pigmentation of their lips, nose and body.
- German Shepherds
- Chow Chows
- Siberian Huskies
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Labrador Retrievers
The above list isn’t exhaustive but if you do own one of the above-mentioned dog breeds, there’s a chance that it might suffer from a skin condition during its lifespan.
Dog’s Bottom Lip Turning Pink
If you notice that only your dog’s bottom or lower lip is turning pink, it could be due to the same reasons mentioned above.
The same issue can happen to your dog’s upper lip and the only difference is between the top and bottom.
Do the same checks as your would if your dog’s upper lip starts to turn pink. Anything that is out of the ordinary needs to be examined by the vet.
Why Are My Dog’s Lips Red And Raw?
Many of the above reasons can also cause your dog’s lips to become red and raw.
It could also be due to your dog being allergic to his plastic bowls or coming into contact with a poisonous plant.
If the redness and inflammation don’t go away after a few days, it would be best to take your dog to the vet.
Anatomy Of Your Dog Lips
Given that we have spoken so much about a dog’s lip, we should take some time to further understand its anatomy.
Dogs do have lips that actually apply more to the lower lip. The upper lip is called the flew and the length varies between dog breeds.
Dog breeds like the bloodhound and mastiff have much bigger and longer flews than tend to cover their upper jawline.
There are some dog breeds whose flews can totally cover the lower lip.
Someone actually asked me that since dogs have lips, can dogs spit?
Dogs are not able to spit as they can’t control their lips and tongue as we do but boy, can dogs drool.
Why Do Dogs Have Black Lips?
You might have noticed that the majority of dogs have black lips.
A dog’s nose color will be the same color as the outer lining of its lips.
However, not all dogs have black lips as it largely depends on the amount of melanin that’s available in these body parts.
The good thing is that dogs with darker noses and lips tend to have better protection from UV sun exposure.
It could be a cause for concern if you notice your dog’s lips turning pink from black.
Most dog owners do not have to be too concerned about their dog’s lips turning pink.
It is a common sight for dogs that are getting older or who have been out in the sun a lot.
For dogs whose lips are pink due to an injury, skin infection or an underlying health reason, it is always good to have it checked out by the vet to ensure that it isn’t anything serious.