Several things might cause a white crust to pile up on your dog’s nose. The white crust could be as harmless as food they got into (such as dried up yogurt) or something more severe such as a bacterial infection.
Dog noses come in all shapes, sizes, and colors–but white and crusty does not sound like the description of a healthy snout. Multiple things could be going on if you notice that your dog’s nose is a different color or texture than usual.
What You'll Learn
Snacks–Approved or Unapproved
The most basic reason your dog’s nose is white and crusty is because of environmental factors.
This is especially true if you have a dog known for sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. Try to gently dab or rub the crust off your dog’s nose with a damp cloth or paper towel. If whatever was white and crusty comes off, their crusty white nose is no big deal.
If your dog was eating yogurt, ice cream, or cottage cheese, this might be an easy fix to figuring out why their nose is white and crusty. They certainly were not going to use a napkin when they were done snacking! If that’s the case, wipe your dog’s nose off and move on with your day.
If your pup is on the mischievous side, check around the house for some other things they may have gotten into–like sidewalk chalk, or (hopefully not) paint or drywall.
Again, gently wipe off your dog’s nose and monitor them for intestinal distress symptoms.
Your dog’s white, crusty nose could also be in response to environmental changes, not necessarily something they were eating.
Like people, dogs get allergies, so something they were sniffing could cause their nose to be itchy and crusty. A new food bowl, toy, or cleaning product could cause your dog’s nose to appear white and crusty after they give it a sniff.
Other environmental factors, like warm, dry air in your home could dry out your pup’s nose. This is especially true if they like to sleep against a vent or heater. Use a balm to help keep your dog’s nose moist, or a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air.
Your dog may also be dehydrated, which is common when they wake up from a nap, so always have a supply of fresh water available for them.
Remedies for Non-Medical Causes
If you have a particularly dry home, which is common in the winter months when the heat is running, or you live in a dry, desert climate, you may consider using balms or creams to keep your dog’s nose moist and healthy.
Avoid using human creams, as they are not formulated for pet consumption and may not be safe to use on your dog’s nose. There is a high probability your dog will lick whatever you put on their snout, so choose a cream that will not hurt them if consumed.
Also, avoid using products like Vaseline or petroleum jelly, which are not the best for your dog to be ingesting. There are multiple products on the market formulated especially for dogs that contain 100% safe ingredients to keep your pet’s nose moisturized.
There are also a few common household items you can use, including shea butter, olive oil, or coconut oil. Try to give anything you use a chance to settle into your dog’s skin before they attempt to lick it off.
If you are sure your pet has not been snacking on anything white and crusty and balms don’t seem to do the trick, there are a few medical conditions that can be causing your pet’s nose to be white and crusty.
If you are used to getting a cold, wet snout pressed up against your leg, but notice that your dog suddenly has a very dry and cracked nose, take notice.
If there is nothing environmental that is going on, a few different things could be occurring. The most important step is to call your veterinarian to describe your dog’s symptoms.
Here are a few medical reasons that can cause a dogs nose to become white and crusty.
If you have a dog with a pale or pink nose, it may just be a sunburn. Just like human skin, dog’s skin is sensitive to direct sunlight and can get sunburnt. The white crust you see could be the sunburn healing.
Try to prevent sunburn from occurring again by using a protective covering for your dog, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors with them in the summer. Keep your dog in the shade as much as possible. They cannot communicate to us that they are getting too hot or feeling burnt, so it is important to take protective measures to keep your dog safe in the sun.
Most animal’s hair, claws, beaks, or paws are made from a protein called keratin. A condition called hyperkeratosis occurs when the animal produces too much keratin, which makes them appear different than they normally would.
In dogs, producing too much of this protein will make the skin on the nose and paw pads extra thick and prone to cracking.
This condition begins slowly but gradually becomes worse. If you notice your dog’s nose is suddenly dry and cracked in appearance, almost looking like their skin has broken into separate warts, call your veterinarian.
Hyperkeratosis itself is not dangerous, but your dog is likely uncomfortable with their nose and paws so dry and cracked. The cracks are also a place where infections can thrive, so it is important to get hyperkeratosis under control.
There is no cure for hyperkeratosis, but it is treatable and manageable with your veterinarian’s help. The vet can periodically remove the extra keratin to keep your dog more comfortable and will recommend creams to keep their skin as it should be.
Some breeds are more likely to develop hyperkeratosis, like bulldogs, pugs, boxers, and mastiffs. It is also seen in collies, poodles, and Pomeranians, but any dog can get hyperkeratosis at any point in their life.
A more serious condition called pemphigus foliaceous can also start by looking like white, crusty skin on your dog’s nose. It is an uncommon autoimmune disease in humans; however, it is one of the more frequently occurring autoimmune diseases in dogs.
This disease often begins as scabs and sores on the nose, but spreads quickly to the rest of the face and body. If you notice crusty white scabs or open sores on your dog’s nose, do not wait to call the vet, especially if you notice that they are spreading over your dog’s face and body in a short time.
Like hyperkeratosis, pemphigus foliaceous is not curable, but it is treatable. It can be managed using immunosuppressive drugs and therapies to help your dog’s immune system not attack their body. Prescription topical creams can also treat existing sores and lesions.
The following breeds may be more genetically predisposed to pemphigus foliaceous than others:
- Chow Chow
- Cocker Spaniel
- Labrador Retriever
- English Bulldog
- Bearded Collie
However, any breed can be affected by this disorder, and management is key to helping your dog remain comfortable.
There is a less severe version of this disorder called pemphigus erythematosus, which presents similarly in that it starts with open scabs or sores on the nose that spread to the rest of the body.
The sores and lesions are much more mild and less widespread, but still need to be managed under a veterinarian’s care. This particular version of the disease is often seen in German Shepherd and Shetland Sheepdogs.
Both versions are diagnosed using a biopsy that your veterinarian will perform. Both have a good prognosis and are not likely to impact your dog’s lifespan as long as you are dedicated to providing appropriate care and treatment.
Should I Be Worried?
Generally, a white, crusty nose on your dog is not a huge cause for alarm. Double-check that there is nothing environmental going on that could cause the difference in the appearance–like something they were snacking on (with or without permission) or something as simple as dehydration.
If your pet’s white, crusty nose appears suddenly, and whatever is on it seems to spread, keep a close eye on them and call your veterinarian. It could be a sign of a more serious condition that will require treatment and care. You know your pet best, so if something about their appearance feels wrong, bring them in for a checkup.
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