Dog owners frequently call the vet's office to find out why their dog's nose has changed from its usual black color to a pinkish shade or flesh tone. There are many reasons for your dog's nose to lose its pigmentation. Below are some of the common reasons.
First, allergies to plastic or rubber food and water bowls can
cause changes to the pigment of the nose. This condition is called plastic dish dermatitis, and it may also impact your dog's chin. If you use plastic or rubber food bowls and your dog does have
this allergy, you may be able to reverse the depigmentation by
switching to bowls made out of other materials. In some cases, however,
the depigmentation is permanent.
Second, a condition called vitiligo can trigger the nose
depigmentation. Vitiligo may cause lightening of the nose, lips, and
other pigmented skin. When it is localized to the nose it is called
Dudley nose. This condition is irreversible, but purely a cosmetic
concern. It tends to impact certain breeds more than others including
Third, trauma due to heat, chemical or electric burns or even due
to sun exposure can cause the pigment of the nose to lighten.
Lightening caused by theses factors is also irreversible.
Fourth, autoimmune disease such as discoid lupus erythematosus
(DLE) can cause depigmentation of the nose. If your dog has DLE, your
vet will likely prescribe immune-suppressing medications for your dog
either in topical or oral form. DLE cannot be cured, but it can be
managed with the medication which may allow the nose’s normal color to
Finally, dogs of certain breeds, most often Yellow Labs, seem to
have what appears to be a genetic predisposition to lightening of the
nose. As pups, these dogs will have dark noses. But, over the next
couple years, the nose starts to lighten. This type of lightening is
purely a cosmetic concern, and is irreversible. Also, certain breeds,
most often “arctic breeds” such as Siberian Huskies, may develop a
cosmetic condition known as snow nose in which the nose color lightens
during the winter and returns to its darker color in the summer.
If your dog's nose has lost pigmentation, your vet may have to do a biopsy of the nose in order to figure out the root cause. If your dog's nose appears ulcerated or if you notice a growth or your dog's nose, you should also take your dog to the vet.
To learn more about diseases and conditions impacting your dog's nose, click on the nose of the "What Hurts" Dog to your right.
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