How do I check Mucous Membranes or for a Capillary Refill Time (CRT) on my pet?

The color of your pet’s Mucous Membranes and Capillary Refill Time, also known as CRT, are two very easy and essential vitals that you should know how to assess regularly, but especially in an emergency! Checking Mucous Membranes and CRT is one of the important tools for an instant glance at your dog’s underlying internal health.

Mucous Membranes is a fancy way to say gum color and should be the color of “bubble gum” pink on a regular basis. The following is a list of the different colors you may witness and what each of those colors might indicate.

Pink/Black – normal
Yellow – Jaundice/Liver Problems
White – Anemia/Shock
Blue/Gray – Hypoxic (low oxygen)/Shock

Getting your pet’s Capillary Refill Time (CRT) helps you assess their blood pressure or the time it takes for the capillaries in their gums to “refill” with blood. When a pet’s CRT is prolonged, it can indicate that their blood flow is not adequate to sustain proper health. Normal refill time is usually 1.5 – 2 seconds. It may indicate your pet is in or going into shock or may have certain heart diseases if it takes longer than that. You can also get your own personal CRT by pressing on one of your thumbnails with your other thumb. You will see the pink color blanched white when you push down, and when you release it, it will “refill” to pink very quickly. This is the same concept on your pet, but you push on the pink part of their gums instead of your thumb. Some pets have varying amounts of black gums, and although black color on the gums is normal, you will not be able to use this to assess a CRT. Just find a pink area (even a small area will work) to use when checking vitals.