As Amazon Associates, we may earn from qualifying purchases. See disclosure in sidebar.

Pink or Red Spots on Dogs’ Lips: What They Are & What To Do

Score for Seniors:
Activity Level:
Weight: Pounds

examining a small dog's lips

I frequently have owners coming into my clinic worrying about a new lesion or spots they’ve noticed on their dog’s lips or mouth (pink or red spots on lips are fairly common). While we generally see these growths in younger dogs, red and pink spots on dogs’ lips can occur at any age.

A new spot on a dog’s lip is something we should look into further, especially if it is causing any bother or if it has been present for more than two weeks. A pink or red bump on a dog’s lips could be a wide range of things, so let’s take a closer look.

My dog has new pink or red spots on lips. What could it be?

A new lump or bump in this area could have a few causes including:

1. A papilloma (wart)

If the dog is young, a dog wart is the top cause for new pink spots on dogs’ lips. These growths can come up seemingly overnight and a dog may develop one or more. As well as being on the lips, we can also see them inside the mouth as well as on the skin.

These warts are spread by the papillomavirus and are not harmful. They should resolve over time. They are infectious, so you should avoid an infected dog having close contact with others, until their warts resolve. View more pictures of dog warts, and find out how to remove a dog wart.

pink dog wart on a dog's lips
Pink wart on a dog’s lip

2. Canine acne

This is an inflammatory disorder that affects the lips and surrounding skin of dogs. We can see little pink and red bumps and pustules which often cause the dog to itch and rub their face. As the condition progresses, we can even see facial swelling.

Some dogs are more genetically predisposed to this condition, including the Bulldog and Rottweiler.  Your vet may take a culture of the skin, to see which bacteria are present. Treatment tends to consist of antibiotics, steroids and/or a medicated wash. View more pictures of dog acne & find out how to treat it.

WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]

Dog acne with red spots around the lips

3. A cancerous tumor

There is always the potential for a new growth to be a tumor, especially if we are dealing with an older patient or one who has had cancer before. Tumors can be a range of colors, including pink and red. Some of the more common tumors we see that are these colors include a mast cell tumor or squamous cell carcinoma. View pictures of bumps and lumps in dogs.

mast cell tumor on dog
Red lump (mast cell tumor) near a dog’s lip

4. A benign growth such as a histiocytoma

A histiocytoma can grow on or near the lip (as well as anywhere else on the body). It has the appearance of a blood blister and is harmless. It tends to occur in younger dogs and many resolve spontaneously, without any treatment. View more pictures of histiocytoma & what to do.

histiocytoma on a black dog's skin
Red histiocytoma

5. An insect sting

If your dog has been stung, they may develop a red growth at the site of the sting. We can also see swelling and localized itchiness. If a stinger is visible, it is to be removed and we can gently bathe the skin with salt water.

Call your vet to discuss the next step, which may include giving some antihistamines. Most dogs are back to normal by the next day.

6. A skin tag.

Older dogs are prone to developing skin tags and warts, which have a fleshy appearance and are usually a light pink color. They typically grow slowly and cause no issues. View more pictures of skin tags & learn what to do.

pink skin tag on a dog's lip
Skin tag on a dog’s lip

Is there anything I can try at home to help my dog?

When a lump has only just appeared, we can keep an eye over the next few days to see if it goes down in time. If your dog tolerates it, we should bathe the skin daily in salt water and can also apply a warm compress for 5 minutes at a time; in case there is fluid or an infection inside, that we could draw out.

Should the lump still be there in a week (the same size or larger), a vet check is indicated.

For dogs with mild acne, we could try some wipes from home e.g. Douxo wipes, which can help to lower bacteria and yeast levels on the skin.

Signs that veterinarian help is needed

We become more concerned about a new lump if it is:

  • fast growing,
  • ulcerated or
  • causing the dog any issues
  • on a senior dog: lumps that occur in older dogs are also more of a worry when compared to those we see in their younger peers.

Visiting your vet about pink spots on lips: what will happen?


Your vet will visually examine any lumps or bumps, drawing on their experience in order to help determine what is going on. If concerned at all, they would advise you sample the lump. They can take a biopsy or a Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA), whereby a needle is directed into the lump and some cells are aspirated.

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.

Biopsies are able to provide more accurate answers but need to be taken under anaesthetic. An FNA can be done during a routine consult, but is not always accurate enough to get us a diagnosis.


Treatment options will depend on what we are dealing with. For pink or red bumps like papillomas and histiocytomas, we generally take a ‘wait and see’ approach as they should get better without intervention.

A cancerous growth should be removed surgically, and the sooner this can be done the better. In some cases, a dog would also be started on chemotherapy.

Cost estimates

As a rough guide, an FNA is priced at about $150-200, while a biopsy is closer to $400.

The surgery to remove a lump depends on many factors including the patient’s size and the size of the growth. We are usually looking at anything from $300-1,000.

If the lump is sent away for analysis, this will add about another $200 onto the bill.

How fast will my dog get better? Recovery from pink spots on lips

Recovery will depend on the condition, but there are some general guidelines. Most papillomas resolve within 1-2 months, while a histiocytoma can take 2-3 months to completely disappear.

Canine acne is a condition that can come and go and flare up at times.

Once a growth is surgically removed, recovery time is quick. For most dogs, sutures are removed within 10-14 days and they can then go back to their normal routine.

Learn more: bumps and lumps on dogs’ lips: what they are & what to do


  • Dr. Linda Simon, Veterinarian

    Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS) has 10 years of experience as a veterinarian. She is a veterinary surgeon with a special interest in geriatric patient care, dermatology and endocrinology. She is a member of the British Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She graduated top of her class from UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in Dublin in 2013. Linda has also worked as a locum vet in a range of clinics, including 24 hour emergency clinics and busy charity clinics.

Talk to a veterinarian online for only $1

You can chat with a licensed veterinarian online now for just $1. Click here to connect with a veterinarian, or start a chat below:


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.