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Pink Spots on Dog’s Lips: 11 Causes & What to Do About It

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Pink spots on dogs’ lips mostly happen because of depigmentation, which in turn has several causes. The most common causes of lip depigmentation in dogs are excessive salivation, vitiligo, or fungal infections.

Does your dog have pink spots on its lips? Pets’ health should be a priority for all dog owners and pink discoloration of the lips cause concern in many.

When your dog suffers a physical change, including the lips (an overlooked area for most dog owners), take it to the vet. They can uncover the cause and figure out if your dog is at risk.

Discoloration of dogs’ lips or the appearance of pink spots is most obvious in dogs with pigmented lips. It can have different causes, but it is usually not a cause for concern.

If discoloration is accompanied by other symptoms, a visit to the veterinary office is mandatory.

In this article, you will find out about the causes of pink spots, why the lips sometimes swell and turn red, and more.

Why Are My Dog’s Lips Turning Pink?

There are many causes for dogs’ lips turning pink, including short-term and permanent changes. Some are harmless, such as discoloration, while others have more severe underlying problems that require veterinary care.

Pink spots on dogs’ lips should not always cause concern. You usually don’t need to worry if your dog’s lips and mouth look normal except for the change in lip color. 

Nonetheless, pink discoloration of the lips can also be a sign of an underlying condition. This is why it is recommended to take your dog to the vet to examine it.

Take your dog to the vet if the following symptoms occur in addition to pink spots or discoloration of the lips:

  • Swollen lips
  • Inflammation or lesions in the mouth
  • Lack of appetite or refusal of food
  • Hypersalivation
  • Bad breath

Check other areas of the body as well if your dog’s lips start to turn pink:

  • Nose
  • Paws
  • Hair in certain areas of the body
Why Are My Dog’s Lips Turning Pink

Why Are My Dog’s Lips Red and Swollen?

Red and swollen lips are generally a symptom of allergies. This can be allergies to insect bites, food, or other allergens in the environment. Red and swollen lips can also be a symptom of an oral condition, such as dental problems, traumatic injuries, or oral cancer.

The most common cause for sudden swelling and redness of dogs’ lips is an allergic reaction. This is common but should be checked by a vet if you’re not aware of any allergies.

Other causes include the following:

  • Dental problems
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Cancer

Red and Swollen Lips Caused by Allergic Reactions

Red and Swollen Lips Caused by Allergic Reactions
Image Source

Allergic reactions are triggered by many things, including the dog food your dog has eaten for some time. 

Here are the most common causes of allergies in dogs:

  • Insect bites
  • Vaccines
  • Food
  • Drugs
  • Toxins
  • Pollen

All of these can cause dogs’ faces to swell, including the lips. If your dog’s face starts swelling, it represents a medical emergency because your pet can die of suffocation.

Suffocation is usually only caused by extreme allergies. When this happens, their face will start to swell, and the airways can also swell, suffocating the dog.

Dogs allergic to insect bites usually have a swollen nose and/or lips/mouth as this is where insects typically bite. If your dog is extremely allergic to these bites, their whole face and airways will also swell.

The most common symptoms associated with allergic reactions (especially insect bites) include:[1]

  • Redness and swelling at the bite site.
  • Multiple red swollen areas (hives) all over the dog’s body.
  • Swollen face and/or muzzle.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Vomiting.

Take your dog to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms.

Red and Swollen Lips Caused by Dental Problems

Red and Swollen Lips Caused by Dental Problems

Swelling and redness of the lips and face can also be the result of some dental problems:[2]

  • Dental abscesses and infections
  • Broken teeth
  • Oral lesions
  • Periodontitis

Take your dog to the vet if its lips and face are swollen and it shows the following symptoms:

  • Food refusal but appetite is present
  • Chewing done with difficulty
  • Hypersalivation
  • Saliva with blood
  • Bad breath

Red and Swollen Lips Caused by Traumatic Injuries

Dogs’ lips can also be red and swollen due to trauma, such as blows or bites. Go to the vet if your dog’s lip is red and swollen, painful, and/or bleeding.

Red and Swollen Lips Caused by Cancer

Besides the deformation of the area where the tumors develop, cancers also cause inflammation of the surrounding tissues. 

If your dog has oral cancer, the lips may become pinkish/red and swollen.

Take your dog to the vet if you suspect a tumor.

Skin Pigmentation Disorders That Cause Spots on Dogs’ Lips

Pink spots on dogs’ lips are often caused by skin pigmentation disorders. The most common skin pigmentation disorders in dogs are vitiligo, lentigo, and impetigo.

Skin pigmentation disorders are conditions that change the color of the skin, including that on the lips. 

There are mainly three disorders that lead to the appearance of spots on dogs’ lips:

  • Vitiligo
  • Lentigo
  • Impetigo

These disorders are not only common to dogs but also to humans.

Related: Why Your Dog Has Black Spots on the Tongue

Vitiligo

Vitiligo on dog's lips
Image Source

Vitiligo is a disease that causes depigmentation of certain parts of dogs’ skin, including the lips. 

Dogs develop patches of depigmentation on their bodies. The extent of these patches and the rate of color loss are unpredictable.

In dogs with vitiligo, the melanocytes (cells that give color to the skin, eyes, and fur) stop working properly or completely in localized sections. 

This produces the characteristic discoloration of dogs’ skin.

Vitiligo accounts for 0.7% of skin diseases in dogs.

The causes of vitiligo both in dogs and in humans are not fully known, but there is a genetic component that favors its occurrence.[3]

This condition does not cause discomfort and it doesn’t have a treatment.

Lentigo

Where vitiligo causes discoloration, lentigo causes small black spots all over the body, including the mouth. It is not painful and no treatment is needed.

Lentigo has genetic causes, and Dachshunds dogs are more prone to developing it compared to other breeds.[4]

Impetigo

Impetigo is a skin infection where small pustules appear with a red border on dogs’ skin. These pustules affect large regions of the body, especially in areas with little to no hair.

When the formed pustules break, a yellowish substance is expelled. The crusts form when the broken pustules dry out.

There are mainly three causes of impetigo:[5]

  • Parasitism (internal and external)
  • Distemper disease
  • Poor hygiene/dirty environment

This condition can lead to skin necrosis if not treated in time. Impetigo is not transmitted from dog to dog, as it is not contagious.

Other Reasons Why Dogs’ Lips Start Turning Pink

Other reasons why dogs’ lips turn pink or pink spots appear on them are old age, the season, or wounds. If your dog’s lips start turning pink and other symptoms occur too, contact the vet.

Besides health conditions, other factors can cause the appearance of pink spots on the lips of dogs:

  • Old age
  • Seasons
  • Wounds
  • Excessive salivation

Old Age

Dog Old Age

One reason for the appearance of pink spots on the lips of dogs is old age. Old age can cause black spots to appear on the skin (hyperpigmentation spots), but it can also cause certain areas of the body to lose pigment and turn pink (depigmentation). 

This is especially visible in dogs with dark skin.

Seasons

Like our skin becomes darker in the sunny months and lighter in the cold months, the same thing happens to dogs.

If your dog’s lips are lighter in winter and darker in summer, it means that this is also a reason why its lips turn pink or develop pink spots. The same thing happens to dogs with light-colored noses.

You don’t have to worry if your dog’s lips develop pink spots due to the change of season or old age.

Wounds

Dog wounds on lips

Pink spots on dogs’ lips can also appear due to wounds. Dogs explore with their mouths and can accidentally injure themselves.

If your dog has a wound in or around the mouth, treat it immediately to prevent it from becoming infected later.

If the wound is deep, your dog will likely need stitches, so contact the veterinarian.

Excessive Salivation

Excess saliva can especially cause dogs’ lower lips to discolor and turn pink. The most common medical issues that cause hypersalivation are:

  • Oral problems
  • Dental problems
  • Nausea
  • Motion sickness
  • Irritation of the digestive tract, including the mouth
  • Consumption of toxic substances
  • Allergic reactions
  • Some drugs

FAQs

Why Is My Dog Losing Pigment in His Lips?

Dogs can lose the pigment in their lips as they age, when the season changes, or due to medical conditions. The most common medical conditions for which dogs can lose pigment in their lips are vitiligo and oral and dental problems.

What Is Canine Papilloma Virus?

Papillomatosis is a disease caused by a papillomavirus that can be transmitted to other dogs. This condition is manifested by the development of tumors (papillomas/warts) on the lips, gums, and mouth, most often. In the early stages, it can make the lips appear with pink spots.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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