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Checking a Pet’s Gum Color, Detecting Dehydration and Capillary Refill Time

Checking a Pet’s Gum Color, Detecting Dehydration and Capillary Refill Time...

A pet’s gums can provide you with a wealth of information about their physical condition. It’s important that all pet owners understand what to look for when they examine a cat’s or dog’s gums. Examining a pet’s gums is similar to looking at a human’s coloring. Since dogs and cats have very little exposed skin, the gums are a perfect area to examine for coloration. The animal’s skin color is representative of a few factors such as oxygenation, blood pressure and red blood cell count. Examine the pet’s gums for the following: Gum Color — Your pet’s gums should be pink, though the “normal” shade varies from animal to animal so it’s important to assess your pet when he’s healthy so you’re familiar with his typical gum color. Color is indicative of many things such as circulation, red blood cell count (e.g., a cat with anemia will have very pale gums) and oxygenation (a pet who is not getting sufficient oxygen will turn pale, then grey or blue.) Excessive billirubin (due to jaundice, which can be associated with liver abnormalities and blood-related abnormalities) can cause the gums to turn yellow in color. Capillary Refill Time –– Press firmly on the pet’s gums for approximately five seconds. Then, release the pressure and look at the area where you applied pressure. It should be significantly lighter than the surrounding skin and it should return to normal coloration within less than one...