The crust is the thing that will tell you if your dog’s dry nose is normal or a sign of a bigger problem. Some changes in the temperature and wetness of your dog’s nose are normal. But when the skin on your dog’s nose becomes crusty or changes color and texture, it’s time to take a closer look.
What to Look For
Conventional wisdom that says a wet nose or a cold nose is a sign of a healthy dog is not actually so. Your dog’s nose may be warm but dry and be perfectly healthy or it could mean that your dog is sick. If changes in your dog’s nose texture is accompanied by other signs of illness, that’s when you should begin to worry.
For instance, if your dog’s nose is dry to the point of cracking, there could be a deeper problem, especially if your dog has been losing weight, throwing up, feeling lethargic, or any other number of signs of sickness. If the skin on the nose changes color from dark brown to light pink or vice versa, it should be looked at by a vet. Also any types of sores or scabbing that occurs from prolonged dryness should be examined by a vet.
Normal color changes that do not point to a problem occur in certain breeds of animals, like calico cats or spotted beagles. Certain animals are also subject to sunburns if they are exposed to heat and sunlight, dogs included. Dogs with light colored noses start showing dark spots from sunburn while dogs in general will see burn spots on the underbelly, around the ears, or near the eyes in addition to a crusty nose.
Causes of Dog Dry Noses
Although the common wisdom that a dog’s nose should be cold and wet is not necessarily true, there is some wisdom in it. How wet or dry your dog’s nose is normally will tell you when there is a problem.
Since every dog is different, noticeable changes will be different. If your dog’s nose is typically cold and wet but all of the sudden it’s noticeably warm and dry, along with other signs of sickness, it could mean that a trip to the vet is warranted.
Knowing the feel of your dog’s nose when it is in good health will give you something to compare changes to in order to eliminate the causes of dog dry nose. Some common causes of dry, crusty dog nose are:
- Sitting Close to the Heater: If you own a fireplace or your dog likes to sit near vents in the winter that could be a reason for dry crusty nose. You could use Vaseline or try Eye Envy’s On the Nose Therapy Balm made especially for dogs.
- Something in the Air: Dogs suffer some of the same illnesses people do, allergies being one of them. If someone smokes inside, if you notice dryness since using a particular air freshener or scented oils, dry crusty nose could be an allergic reaction. Make note if it is a seasonal change and use nose balms to alleviate irritation. If symptoms persist, take your pet to the vet.
- Bacterial Infections or Fungus: If your dog’s crusty nose is accompanied by mucus or some other nasal seepage or bleeding, it could be a bad infection. An infection can make it hard for your dog to breathe, take your pet to the vet if there is drainage plus a dry, crusty nose.
- Something Stuck in the Nose: If your dog chews on grass, it’s possible that a blade got stuck up there or a toy got lodged in the nose. If your dog’s nasal passages are blocked, the nose will dry out and crust up. Examine each nostril with a flashlight or take your pet to the vet if you suspect a deep blockage.
- Certain Dog Breeds with Nasal Problems: If you own a pug or poodle or any dog with a flat nose, it will probably suffer from breathing problems ergo, the dry crusty nose. These dogs run the gamut from slobbery wet noses to dry, flaky nose.
It’s especially important to observe the way your dog’s nose looks when it is healthy to catch it when there are abnormalities. Some breeds wind up needing surgery to correct the problem. When there is noticeable discomfort, take your dog to the vet for an examination.
- Dirty Dog Dishes: It seems like a small thing, but dirty food and water dishes can actually cause dry nose. In fact, bowls made out of plastic are one of the number one causes of dry nose in dogs. By some estimates, 50% of dogs are allergic to plastic dog dishes. Switch out plastic bowls for ceramic or steel bowls and see if that does the trick.
- Dehydration: If your dog is thirsty, it stands to reason that it's nose will get dry but sometimes it will get wet in the same way humans sweat when we get overheated. If your dog’s nose gets dry and has been outside in the heat all day, it could be dehydration; fix them a nice big clean bowl of water. If it continues to get dry, your dog is not getting enough water every day.
When there is a bigger problem, there will likely be mucus along with dry crusty nose. If your dog starts getting nosebleeds regularly, or begins breathing laboriously, it could point to the possibility of polyps or worse, tumors in your dog’s nasal passage. Big problems like these often accompany a loss of appetite and lethargy.
If the discharge is discolored and sticky, it could be distemper which could cause your dog to convulse and twitch. Seek medical attention for your pet immediately if you notice these symptoms. This is common in dogs that have not been vaccinated.
On the other hand, if the discharge coming out of your dog’s nose is clear and wet, that is normal and healthy. If it changes color, that’s when you need to call the vet.
Treating Crusty Dog Nose
Unfortunately for some dog owners, crusty nose comes with the breed. Pug nosed dogs especially. You’re going to have to pay special attention to how wet or dry their noses typically are and you’ll have to pay close attention to the type of discharge coming out of it.
If it is fungus that is causing dry nose, it can be treated easily with topical creams. If it is an infection that is causing dry nose, it will have to be treated with antibiotics. If however, the crusty nose is a symptom of polyps, it should be examined by a vet. Some are benign and can be surgically removed while others point to nasal cancer that can only be treated with expensive radiation.
Most importantly, as is the case with most dog problems, the answer is in the right hygiene regimen. If you are feeding your dog the right things, giving them plenty of fluids, and are protecting them from the sun and heat, any nose crust should be easily treated. For dogs with allergies, a good moisturizing balm is a must.
Eye Envy's 'On the Nose' Therapy Balm
You may be tempted to use your own sunscreen or lip balm to treat your dog’s crusty nose. Human products are only tested for use on humans. It’s always the safest option to buy pet care products for your dog made specifically for your dog. Eye Envy On the Nose Therapy Balm includes agents responsible for screening your dog’s delicate skin from the sun.