Exploring Every Possible Reason Why Your Dog’s Lips Are Turning Pink

A few days ago, I returned home to see my dog’s lip turning pink. Since I’m always on the edge about my furry companion’s health, I wasted no time taking her to the vet. In the past, every change in her physical appearance had signaled an underlying health issue and this time was no different. The pink spots on my dog’s lips were caused by melanin deficiency.

Since the pandemic, my dog has preferred to spend most of her time indoors. She had refused to take walks outside in the past but now that habit of hers has changed, thanks to my persistence and my vet’s in-depth guidance on how much sunlight she needs.

Thankfully, 2+ hours of sun exposure a day for two weeks led to a healthy increase in melanin production. Now, the discoloration on my dog’s lip is fading away for good. But, what if that didn’t happen? What if the pink spots on my dog’s lip were caused by other health issues and not melanin deficiency? Don’t worry, I’ve got the answers to these vital questions.

There are many dogs with pink lips and no melanin-related issues. Their lip discoloration is caused by other factors. I’m going to share the most common causes of discoloration and pink lips on dogs. Before that, let’s try to understand the underlying scientific process that goes on when a dog’s lip turns pink from black.

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Common Reasons Why Dog’s Lip Turning Pink

A dog’s lips start turning pink when the underlying pigment cells called melanocytes stop functioning. This leads to the loss of their dark lip color, first in spots and patches and then all together. Melanocytes stop functioning due to medical, genetic, or environmental factors. In most cases, it’s a mixture of all three, like it was with my poodle.

  • My poodle is genetically prone to iris atrophy (her parents had it).
  • One of the main symptoms of iris atrophy is aversion to sunlight. As she’s grown older, she’s exhibited this particular symptom on a regular basis.
  • Because of this, she feels naturally more comfortable in low-light environments.
  • Hence, she failed to receive adequate amounts of sunlight in the past.

This unhealthy combination of environmental, medical, and genetic factors caused the pink spots on my dog’s lips. Now, let’s examine some other popular conditions and combinations that can cause your dog’s lips to turn pink from black:


Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes dogs’ immune systems to mistake their own cells as foreign agents. This includes the melanin-generating cells called melanocytes. As the immune system kills off the melanocytes, patches of discoloration start to appear all over the lupus-riddled dog’s skin, including the lips.

Lupus can affect any dog, but it’s more prevalent in the following breeds: German Shorthaired Pointers, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Collies, and Brittany Spaniels.

If your dog’s lips are turning pink and you suspect it’s lupus, don’t waste any time. Take him/her to the vet to get an official diagnosis. If you want to learn about more signs of lupus in dogs, I highly recommend checking out the following video: 

Skin Infections

Bacterial and fungal infections are the leading causes of dogs’ lips turning pink from black. Dogs are always chewing on things and placing foreign objects inside their mouths. These behaviors stem from their natural curiosity which is good. But, it can also expose them to infections. Like with lupus, any dog breed can pick up skin infections.

But, the following dog breeds are more likely to pick up these infections at least once in their lifetime: Boxers, Dalmatians, Boston Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Wirehaired Fox-Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Labradors, and Golden Retrievers

If you suspect that an infection is to blame for your dog’s upper lip turning pink, check for swelling, lesions, and bad breath. If these signs are present visit the vet to identify what type of bacteria/fungus is invading your dog’s skin. A chlorhexidine oral rinse can help eliminate the infection and the lip discoloration issues.


Vitiligo is a genetic and completely untreatable disease. Dog owners can’t do anything to stop it from causing lip discoloration and color loss in other areas of the body. The following dog breeds are more prone to getting vitiligo: Dachshunds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, and English Sheepdogs.

Dogs with pink lips caused by vitiligo are advised to stay away from sunlight as their skin is more prone to picking up light and heat damage.

Excessive Tears or Saliva

Excessive tears/saliva generation could be a symptom of an underlying health condition. It could also be the main reason why your dog’s lips are turning pink. The tears and saliva of all dogs contain iron-rich molecules called porphyrins. Porphyrins can stain your dog’s coat and lips, giving them a reddish-brown color.

The porphyrins in your dog’s drool could cause his/her lips to turn pink from black. The best thing you can do in this situation is keep your dog’s eye and mouth areas clean. Also, get your dog checked at the vet. I recommend watching this video guide on how to stop excessive dog drooling as well:


Trauma to the lips from excessive rubbing, aggressive chewing, or an external injury can cause temporary discoloration. Before this discoloration evolves into an infection, dog owners should get their pets professionally treated. Applying antiseptic topical creams to the lip wounds can instantly heal the wounds that are behind the lip discoloration.

 Sun Exposure

Just like us, our furry friends can experience changes in their skin condition due to sun exposure. Extended periods under the sun can cause the lips to become lighter, turning black lips into a shade of pink due to the loss of pigmentation. It’s similar to how our hair gets those gorgeous sun-kissed highlights during summer, but it might be a sign that it’s time to reduce those sunbathing sessions to protect your pet’s delicate lip area.


As your dog ages, it’s not uncommon to notice a change in pigmentation around the dog’s face and body, including the lips. This is a natural process where the cells that produce melanin (the pigment responsible for their dark lip color) decrease over time. It’s like the doggy version of graying hair, and it’s a gentle reminder to cherish the golden years with your aging fur baby.

Allergic Reaction

An allergy can be a sneaky culprit behind your dog’s pink lips. Sometimes, new foods, toys, or even bacterial or fungal infections can cause skin irritation and inflammation, leading to a change in your dog’s lip color. If you notice redness, swelling, or other symptoms accompanied by a change in lip color, it’s always best to take your dog to the vet to identify the cause and get the right treatment.

Dog Lips Turning Pink Naturally

Lastly, some breeds just naturally experience a change in the color of their lips as they grow. In many cases, puppies born with pink lips may see their lips darken as they mature, while others might experience the opposite. It’s one of those fascinating changes in a dog’s body that showcases their unique development. However, if you’re ever in doubt, a quick consult with your vet can give you peace of mind.

Dog Lip Turning Pink. Frequently Asked Questions

We know you have questions, and we’re here with the answers to keep your furry friend healthy and happy. Let’s get started!

Can Certain Dog Breeds be more Prone to Pink Lips?

Absolutely, certain breeds like the Chow Chow, which are known for their distinct black lips, might experience depigmentation more noticeably than others. This change in your dog’s appearance is often due to aging or could be a result of a condition known as vitiligo, where cells that produce pigment are destroyed. It’s always a good idea to consult your vet if you notice sudden changes to ensure your dog isn’t experiencing any health issues.

Can Stress Cause Pink Lips in Dogs?

Yes, stress can indeed be a culprit. Just like in humans, stress in dogs can lead to physical changes, including in the affected area of the lips. Stress might cause your dog’s immune system to react, leading to conditions such as discoid lupus erythematosus or mucocutaneous pyoderma. Keeping an eye on accompanying symptoms and maintaining a stress-free environment for your pooch is key.

Can I Use Human Sunscreen on my Dog’s Lips?

Oh, we get it, those pink lips could be tempting to slather with some sunscreen, but hold that thought! Human sunscreen can contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. If you are concerned about your dog’s lips getting a bit too much sun, it’s best to opt for a pet-friendly sunscreen. And remember, a little shade goes a long way in protecting your dog’s nose and lips from the sun.

Can Pink Lips be a Sign of a More Serious Health Issue in Dogs?

While a change in lip color can sometimes just be a natural process, it can also be a sign of underlying health issues. Conditions such as dermatitis, lip fold dermatitis, or even allergies might be the cause for concern here. If the pink lips are accompanied by other symptoms such as redness, swelling, or irritation, it’s time to turn your dog’s walk direction towards the vet’s office for a check-up.

Can You Prevent Your Dog’s Lips from Turning Pink?

Preventing the pink transformation isn’t always possible, especially when it’s due to natural causes like aging. However, maintaining good hygiene can sometimes help. Regularly cleaning the lip folds to prevent infections and keeping an eye on any allergic reactions can potentially slow down the depigmentation process. And of course, keeping their immune system robust with a healthy diet and plenty of exercises is always a win!

Addressing Pink Dog Lips

As we venture into the world of pink dog lips, it’s essential to approach this topic with a heart full of love and a mind brimming with knowledge. Let’s explore when to be concerned and what steps to take if you find your dog sporting a new pink smile.

When Should You Be Concerned about Pink Discoloration?

Now, we all know that change can be a bit unsettling, especially when it involves our furry friends. While dogs have black, white, or pink lips naturally, a sudden change in your dog’s lip color might raise a few eyebrows.

So, when should you be concerned? Well, if the pink discoloration is accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, excessive drooling (more than their usual slobbery kisses), or if the pinkness is uneven, it might be time to delve deeper. Conditions like vitiligo, where cells that produce melanin are destroyed, can cause such changes. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your dog’s health and consult a vet if you notice any drastic changes.

What to Do If Your Dog’s Lips Have Turned Pink?

First things first, don’t panic! If you notice that your dog’s lips have turned a shade of pink, it’s time to play detective. Start by examining the affected area closely. Sometimes, an increase in saliva production could be the culprit, causing a change in the lip color.

Next, consider potential allergens that might be causing an allergic reaction. It could be a new toy, food, or even a plant they decided to sniff during your last walk.

If the pink lips persist and you find yourself unable to pinpoint the cause, it might be time to visit the vet. They may perform a skin biopsy to get to the root of the issue. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our beloved pets.

Final Take

As we wrap up our pink lip journey, it’s important to remember that sometimes, these changes are just a part of the natural aging process where dogs lose their natural pigmentation. It might just be a sign that your dog is growing up, transitioning from a sprightly young pup to a wise, mature dog.

But, if you suspect the pink hue is due to an underlying health issue, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. After all, we all want to ensure our furry friends are in the pink of health, don’t we?

So, keep those tails wagging and those pink lips smiling as we continue to explore the fascinating world of doggies together. Stay tuned for more doggy insights and remember, a happy dog is a healthy dog!

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