Is your dog’s nose turning white? This can be startling, but in most cases, it’s completely normal. However, there are some concerning reasons why your pooch’s sniffer is suddenly turning white.
Why is my dog’s nose white?
Your dog’s nose may be turning white for a variety of reasons. These include old age, weather, and vitiligo.
Just as a human’s hair can turn gray in old age, dogs can lose their hair and skin pigmentation as they age.
However, old age can also cause your dog’s nose to turn darker. When your older dog’s nose turns white, it’s probably due to the Tyrosinase enzyme.
This enzyme is responsible for the pigment, or color, in your dog’s nose. This enzyme gets weaker as your dog ages, which leads their nose to turn lighter in color.
On the Nose
Dogs explore the world with their noses, quite literally. If your pooch has stuck their nose in something white, their nose will be white as well. Paint and flour are a few common culprits.
Upon close examination, you’ll see your dog’s skin hasn’t changed color. It’s simply something white on their nose.
Seasonal nasal hypopigmentation (aka snow nose)
Snow nose occurs most often in dog breeds who are known for living in snow, like the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute. However, it can occur in other breeds as well.
Just like color changes due to old age, this is likely due to the Tyrosinase enzyme. It doesn’t function well in cold temperatures. This causes your pooch’s nose to turn pale or white.
In this case, your dog’s nose will return to it’s normal color once warm weather returns.
Nasal De-pigmentation (Dudley Nose)
Nasal de-pigmentation, also known as Dudley nose, is a condition with no apparent cause. If your pooch’s nose turns white with no clear reason for it, it’s probably Dudley nose.
The condition is nothing to worry about. It’s only a cosmetic issue. Some dogs noses will return to their normal color. Other dogs will keep their light colored nose for the rest of their life.
Breeds most likely to have Dudley nose include Irish Setters, Pointers, Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, Afghan Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Samoyeds, and White German Shepherds.
Contact dermatitis is a type of allergy. This can cause rashes on the skin. It can also cause your dog’s nose to become pink or white. Other symptoms can include itching and red patches around their nose.
Vitiligo is a condition that occurs in both humans and dogs. It’s simply a loss of pigmentation in the skin. It typically begins with a small patch, which gets bigger over time. Eventually, the entire nose will be white.
It typically occurs when the immune system attacks the cells that control pigment. Vitiligo typically affects other areas of the body, not just the nose. However, it may be the first spot to turn white.
It’s most common in Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. However, it can occur in other breeds as well.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus is an immune system disease. It causes erosion or fissuring of the skin. This can cause bleeding and crusting.
In addition to the nose, the lips and mouth can become white. It tends to get worse with sunlight exposure. It’s treated with topical medication.
Cutaneous lymphoma is thankfully rare. It’s a type of cancer that causes the nose to turn white. This typically occurs in the nose, lips, and eyelids. In addition to turning white, the nose can also become swollen and crusty as skin lesions appear.
It can be difficult to distinguish between cutaneous lymphoma and discoid lupus, so a biopsy is usually needed.
Why is my dog’s nose crusty?
You’ve probably heard that a cold wet nose is the sign of a healthy dog. If their nose is dry or crusty, you are naturally concerned. There are several things that can cause your dog’s nose to become crusty.
Some of these are benign, while others are concerning.
Allergies can cause your dog’s nose to become irritated, dry, and crusty. The most common culprits are environmental allergens, including grass, dust, and pollen.
They can also be affected by chemical sensitivities. Air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and smoke can all trigger reactions in an allergic dog.
There are several things that can cause your dog’s nose to become dry and crusty. In the winter, heat causes the air to be dry. This can lead to dry skin, including your dog’s nose. Wind can also cause this issue, particularly in the winter.
If dry skin is the cause of your dog’s nose woes, simply apply paw wax or Vaseline to moisturize their nose.
Breeds like pugs and English bulldogs, who have pushed in noses, are more prone to dry nose. In this case, it’s simply their anatomy that is causing the issue.
Many dogs are allergic to the plastic commonly used in dog bowls. This allergy can cause their nose to turn pink, white, or become dry and crusty.
If your dog has a plastic dog bowl, consider changing it to see if this solves the issue.
Xeromycteria (aka parasympathetic nose)
Your dog produces special secretions to keep their nose moisturized. This condition causes their body to stop moisturizing their nose. This leads to a dry crusty nose. It can occur along with dry eye.
The condition can be caused by hypothyroidism or an injury to the nerves in the nose. Other signs of hypothyroidism include hair loss, dry skin, and fatigue.
This is caused by a bacterial infection. The cause isn’t clear, but it is associated with allergies and nose injury. It can be difficult to distinguish between this condition and discoid lupus erythematosus.
In addition to crusting, your pooch’s nose may be swollen and sore if a bacterial infection is the culprit.
This rare disease affects the nose, the muzzle, around the eyes, and ear flaps. The paws can be affected as well. It can cause crusting and lesions.
It’s diagnosed with a biopsy. Treatment includes immune modulating therapy that the dog will need to take for the rest of their lives.
What to do if my dog’s nose is white?
What to do if your dog’s nose is white will depend on the cause. In many cases, you may not need to do anything. Other causes require veterinary care.
Benign Color Changes
If your pooch’s nose is changing due to old age or cold weather, there’s nothing you need to do. These are benign changes, and are purely aesthetic.
If your dog’s nose is changing color due to a more concerning cause, they will need veterinary care. Diagnosis and treatment will depend on the cause.
If your dog’s nose is white and crusty, or swollen, these are signs they need to visit the vet. You should also get them checked out if you see lesions or sores on their nose.