8 Reasons For The White Line On Your Dog’s Nose

white salt line on dog's nose

Noticing a white line on your dog’s nose can raise questions about its health and behavior.

A white line on your dog’s nose could indicate conditions like vitiligo, nasal hyperkeratosis, or even sun exposure.

It might also result from autoimmune diseases such as pemphigus or discoid lupus erythematosus, fungal or bacterial infections, seasonal changes like snow nose, or simply scarring from injuries.

This post explores the potential causes behind this marking, emphasizing the importance of understanding what it could mean for your pet’s well-being.

1. Vitiligo

Your dog might have a rare skin condition called vitiligo which causes depigmentation on your dog.

Depigmentation can occur anywhere on your dog that has color such as your dog’s skin, hair and even on its nose.

Vitiligo on your dog’s nose will cause the skin to turn white or even light pink.

Vitiligo in dogs isn’t contagious but rather hereditary. The different colors in dogs are due to a chemical compound called melanin.

The melanin in the affected areas is destroyed which then causes depigmentation or loss of pigment (color).

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to vitiligo:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Labradors
  • German Shepherds
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Dobermans

In some dogs, vitiligo can be caused by an autoimmune disease, stress or toxicity.

2. Nasal Hyperkeratosis

The name of this condition sounds a lot worse than it is. It means the thickening (or overgrowth) of the skin.

And in this case, the skin on your dog’s nose.

This condition happens when the skin or keratin on the dog’s nose starts to grow at an abnormal rate.

When this happens it can start to look like scaly white patches on your dog’s nose.

Nasal Hyperkeratosis can happen on both your dog’s nose and paw pads so make sure to check both areas when you happen to spot it.

Dogs with this condition can experience discomfort around the nose area which can also affect their sense of smell.

Brachycephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs are at higher risk of this due to their flat faces and thick skin folds rubbing against the bridge of the nose.

Nasal Hyperkeratosis can be caused by:

  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Canine distemper
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Genetic mutations
  • Atopy

The best way to go about helping dogs with this condition is to keep their noses well moisturized with creams, ointments and balms.

I would refrain from using anything meant for humans as your dog’s nose is a very sensitive area. Get something from the vet that is more dog-friendly.

If the excess skin on your dog’s nose is too much, the vet might have to remove the excess layers. You can try to gently scrub some of the dried top layers off with a warm, wet washcloth.

Giving your dog oral fish oil supplements may help add extra moisturizer to its skin too.

3. Too Much Sun Exposure

When we take our dogs out for a walk during the day, many of us will apply sunscreen on ourselves but not on our dogs.

Too much sun exposure on your dog’s skin isn’t good. Dogs that spend too much time under the sun can get sunburnt just like us.

In more serious cases, overexposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer in dogs.

One area that is very prone to becoming burnt is your dog’s nose and ears. Dogs with white fur or pink noses are more prone to getting sunburned.

The white scaly skin on your dog’s nose could be the dead skin that is flaking off from being burnt by the sun.

The best way to protect your dog from excessive sun exposure is to be in the shade as much as possible and refrain from walking your dog when the sun is hot.

Dogs do not show signs of being sunburned that easily which means that they can be burnt a lot worse than it looks.

Do not use any vaseline or petroleum jelly on the sunburnt areas as that can make it worse.

Always get some soothing cream that is pet-safe from the vet to apply to your dog.

4. Pemphigus

Pemphigus is a somewhat rare autoimmune condition in dogs that can cause white crusts to form on your dog’s nose.

This happens when the dog’s immune system starts attacking its own skin cells.

Pemphigus in dogs can be inherited, caused by an underlying medical condition or even by the sun.

There are many times when pemphigus just ‘happens’ out of the blue without any plausible explanation.

The vet will take a skin biopsy from your dog’s nose to determine if it is pemphigus.

The best type of medications will be steroids and immunosuppressive drugs to help keep the condition under control.

Sometimes antibiotics are also needed to prevent secondary infection if multiple layers of skin are affected.

5. Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE)

Discoid lupus erythematosus is another known autoimmune disease that can cause a skin infection in our dogs.

This is a rather common problem for dogs and can cause scabbing and crusting which starts on the pup’s nose.

A study has shown that dogs with the gene called IFI27 were more prone to having DLE1.

Similar to pemphigus, this condition causes the dog’s immune system to start attacking its own skin cells which causes the skin to slough.

A skin biopsy is also required to determine the cause and medications like topical creams and drugs that suppress the immune system work well for dogs with this condition.

6. Fungal Or Bacterial Infection

Many kinds of bacteria reside normally on our dog’s skin without causing much of a problem.

However, there are times when the bacteria can start to grow in such large numbers that it starts to become a problem for the dog2.

Our dogs are also at risk of getting fungal infections from other dogs and the environment when it is out walking or playing.

In some cases, these infections may also appear as a spot on your dog’s nose. Such infections can cause skin irritation, crusting, white spots, skin abscesses, etc.

The good thing is these skin infections are easy to clear up with topical creams and antibiotics, once the vet is able to get a diagnosis. .

7. Snow Nose

If you notice that your dog’s black nose turns slightly white or pinkish during the winter months, it could be a case of snow nose.

This condition causes hypopigmentation in your dog’s nose where it starts to lose its original color.

It usually starts as a line or stripe down the middle of your dog’s nose and can slowly spread to the rest of the nose.

Scientists are not exactly certain of the exact reasons that cause a snow nose in dogs but it could largely be due to an enzyme called tyrosinase.

Tyrosinase produces melanin and is more effective when the temperature is warmer and daylight is longer. These are conditions that aren’t always present during the winter months. 

Some dogs that live in a warmer climate can also get snow noses.

Some dog breeds are more prone to getting this condition due to their heritage as they are bred for doing work in colder climates including:

  • Huskies
  • Malamutes
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers

You shouldn’t be concerned if the changes in your dog’s nose are due to the cold weather. The discoloration is temporary and will go away once the weather starts to warm up.

8. Scarring From Injuries

A dog’s love for exploration often results in minor injuries like cuts and scrapes, especially on their sensitive noses.

This is because dogs mainly explore their surroundings by smelling.

These small wounds can develop into white lines or scars as they heal, due to the formation of pigmentation-lacking scar tissue in the delicate skin of a dog’s nose.

The appearance and severity of these white scars can greatly depend on how deep the wound is and how well it’s cared for during the healing process.

When Should I See The Vet?

If the white marking on your dog’s nose comes with symptoms like skin irritation or crusting, see your vet. Excessive flaking, discomfort and nasal discharge are also red flags.

Changes in smell should not be ignored.

Signs of infection, such as pus or a bad smell, mean immediate care is needed. Notice persistent color changes on the nose? Or changes in texture? These require a vet’s evaluation.

This ensures serious health issues are not missed and your dog gets the right treatment.


References

1. Shared inflammatory and skin-specific gene signatures reveal common drivers of discoid lupus erythematosus in canines, humans and mice

2. The bacterial and fungal microbiome of the skin of healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis and the impact of topical antimicrobial therapy, an exploratory study

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