Why do dogs have black lips?

Why do dogs have black lips?

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Have you ever stared at your pooch and all of a sudden wondered: wait, why does my dog have black lips? When the thought hits, the questions and doubts come in as well. Many pet parents ask themselves why their dog has pitch black lips. The good news is that there is a reasonable answer for that question and today, we are going to explain it to you.

Reason why dogs have black lips

Dogs have lips to protect their skin from the sun. Just as it happens with humans, pigmentation protects our dog’s skin from UV light damage. Their fur and hair also plays a key role in shielding them from the sun. But since fur is not around the mouth, pigment is the main protector for that specific area. 

Dogs having black lips is also a result of genetic factors. Black pigment is the most dominant gene. So in most cases, pups inherited their black lips from their parents and ancestors. 

Dog’s lips change color: why are my dog’s lips turning pink?

Yes, dog’s lips can in fact change colors. If their lips become lighter, they are experiencing hypopigmentation, but if they turn darker, it is called hyperpigmentation

But why does this happen? There are quite a few reasons why your dog’s lips might turn into another color. 

1. Seasonal change

As said before, dogs have black lips because the pigment protects them from the damaging UV light. In winter and autumn, daylight changes and it’s not as intense as it is during summer or even spring. Since they are exposed to less sunlight and don’t need as much protection, dogs’ lips might turn into a lighter color. When warmer days start again, their lips usually return to the darker color. 

Us humans experience this phenomenon too. Our skin tends to get darker in summer and lighter in winter.

2. Injury

We all know some dogs that are passionate rough players: they like to run, toss and turn, playfully bite each other and just engage in tough games. When this happens, one of them may end up with some minor injuries. Not because the other dog bit them, but just as a result of their rough interaction.

If you want to learn the difference between rough play and fighting, you should read this article. 

When lips are injured, the area around it can turn into a lighter color or look discolored. You should definitely take proper care of the wound so it doesn’t get infected. But once it has healed, it should return to its usual color. If this is not the case, the best thing to do is take your pup to the vet. 

3. Allergy 

Skin allergies in dogs can definitely cause their lips to experience hypopigmentation and turn into a lighter color. But, this is not the only thing they will cause. If your dog is experiencing an allergy, the affected area will probably present other symptoms such as inflammation or being swollen. 

The best thing you can do to prevent skin allergies in dogs is to daily give them an Omega-3 supplement that will care for your dog’s skin and coat. 

4. Excessive salivation

Dogs produce porphyrin through their tears and saliva. Through their tears, this substance can produce tear stains, which can easily be removed with good quality tear stain wipes for dogs. When produced excessively by its saliva, it can cause depigmentation of the lips, turning them into a lighter color. 

If this is the case, you should definitely try to identify the cause of excessive salivation since it can be a sign of a serious health problem. This phenomenon is usually a result of a dental disease, such as the periodontal one. 

The best way to prevent dog dental diseases is to take proper care of their teeth and clean them regularly with dental wipes. If you want to learn more about this topic and its prevention, read this article.  

5. Cancer

Don’t panic. When dog parents read “cancer” as a possible cause of something their dog is experiencing, they tend to panic and assume that’s what’s happening to their pooch. But you need to keep in mind that this is just one of the possible reasons why, and it usually isn’t the one majority of dogs have.

One of the symptoms of cancer in dogs is snout and mouth discoloration. If you suspect your dog’s lips have turned pink due to this reason, don’t hesitate about taking them to the vet immediately so they can determine whether or not this is the case. 

6. Vitiligo

Vitiligo in dogs is a rare skin condition that causes depigmentation and turns skin into white or a light pink color. This represents absolutely no harm for your dog. 

7. Auto-immune disease

Autoimmune diseases, fortunately, are rare in dogs, but they can happen.  One of them is VKH or Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease, which is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder with ocular, auditory, skin and neurologic involvement.  

This disease is most common in breeds such as Akitas and it can lead to loss of pigmentation and unfortunately, sometimes even blindness.  Learn more  


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