If you're a dog owner, you know that winter can be a difficult time. Not only do you have to worry about keeping your pet warm and safe, but you also have to deal with snow nose!
This is a condition that affects many dogs during the winter months, and can make it difficult for them to breathe.
In this article, we will discuss what snow nose is, how to deal with it, and how to keep your dog healthy during the winter.
What is snow nose?
Snow nose, also known as winter nose, is a condition that affects dogs during the winter months. It typically causes the black pigmentation of the dog's nose to turn lighter in color and shade.
The symptoms of snow nose in general is when your dog's nose loses its black pigment - usually turn brown to pink in winter.
This condition is more common in lighter-colored dogs, but any dog can be affected.
Thankfully, snow nose is not harmful and will usually go away on its own, but it can be uncomfortable for your dog.
Snow nose is really only a real problem if the color change is permanent - this just means that in the summer, your dog's nose can be burnt and damaged by UV rays, due to the lack of melanin (the pigment that gives it the black color)
Interestingly, snow nose is also known as the Dudley nose in the breeder circles, and can be used interchangeably with snow nose, or winter nose.
Causes of snow nose
In general, most dogs that have snow nose has a medical name to it - idiopathic nasal hypopigmentation.
In layman terms, it means that the reason for your dog getting snow nose is generally unknown. (souce)
Even scientists, researchers and vets don't quite know the cause of your dog's winter nose - it his however believed to be due to the reduced sunlight your dog gets.
However, the winter nose in dogs occurs noticeably more in certain breeds of dogs, such as the Golden Retriever, Siberian Husky and Bernese Mountain dogs.
These dog breeds might actually have some genetic reason for the change, but as of now, we're not entirely sure why it happens.
Thankfully, snow nose in general is non life threatening, which also explains why scientists don't really bother researching it's cause, if it's only a pigmentation issue.
Other issues that affects dog noses
However, that said, while snow nose in general can come and go anytime during the winter, there are some illnesses that can cause your dog's nose to change:
If your dog's nose has been physically damaged, for example, by a cut or scrape, this can cause the skin to lose its pigment.
This is more common in white-colored dogs, as the injury is more visible.
In very rare cases, snow nose can be a symptom of cancer.
If you notice that your dog's nose is changing color and is also accompanied by other symptoms, such as weight loss, appetite changes, and lethargy, it's best to take them to the vet immediately.
Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from allergies. Allergies can cause the skin to become irritated and inflamed, which might lead to a change in nose color.
For example, some dogs can be allergic to plastic bowls, which can cause irritation on their noses.
This in turn makes your dog scratch it's nose until it bleeds (physical injury) and thus, losing it's pigmentation.
Another autoimmune disease that can cause a change in nose color is lupus.
If your dog is displaying other symptoms such as joint pain, swollen paws, and fatigue, it's best to take them to the vet for a check up.
this is an autoimmune disease that causes the loss of skin pigmentation.
It can affect any area of the body, including the nose.
If your dog has vitiligo, you might notice patches of light skin on their nose or around their mouth.
As our dogs age, they also slowly lose the capability to create the pigmentation as quickly compared to when they were young.
How to treat a snow nose
There's unfortunately no real treatment for your dog's winter nose, since even scientists and doctors have no idea how it's even formed.
That said, this is usually temporary and your dog's black pigmentation will come back once winter ends.
If it's a permanent change to a lighter shade, then just make sure that in the summer you apply a little sunscreen to your dog's nose.
Without the melanin protecting your dog's nose, he's more likely to get sunburnt on the nose!
Prevention tips for a snow nose
There's really no prevention for snow nose since, as we mentioned, the cause is unknown.
Apart from treating the above reasons due to physical injury, cancer, allergies or the various autoimmune diseases, idiopathic nasal hypopigmentation is probably impossible to treat if it's the only symptom.
But if you want to be extra safe, you can try applying a little sunscreen on your dog's nose when summer comes around - just in case the pigmentation issues becomes permanent.
When to see a vet about a snow nose
As we've mentioned, your dog's winter nose is usually harmless and nothing to worry about.
However, if you notice that it's accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss, appetite changes or lethargy, it's best to take your dog to the vet for a check up - just in case.
It's always better to be safe than sorry in that case!
Also, think about it this way - if your dog's winter nose is permanent, you now get an adorably pink nose nuzzling you!