Snow Nose in Dogs

Husky close up
Nose color changes are seen in dogs with snow nose. jashlock / Getty Images

Snow nose was originally thought to only occur in dogs that live in cold climates but dogs in warm climates can also develop this condition. Dog owners should be aware of what snow nose is and the difference between it and more serious pigment changes in their dogs.

What is Snow Nose in Dogs?

Snow nose occurs when a dog's nose lightens from a dark color to pink or brown. The name comes from the old thought process that this only occurs during the winter months when there is snow. Despite the name though, it is now known that dogs that aren't exposed to cold temperatures can also develop this nasal color change.

Also known as winter nose, hypopigmentation of the nose, and a type of vitiligo, snow nose can cause a dog's black nose to turn pink or dark brown or a dog's brown nose to turn a lighter shade of brown. This is usually a temporary condition and is not a health concern. Snow nose in dogs is purely a cosmetic issue.

Symptoms of Snow Nose in Dogs

The only known symptom of snow nose in dogs is the fading or lightening of the nose color. This color change can be permanent but is most often a temporary change so the nose usually returns to its normal color. Some dogs even develop snow nose repeatedly each year or season but only the color of the nose changes and not the texture.

Causes of Snow Nose in Dogs

Cold weather may not be the sole cause of snow nose but no one really knows what causes this condition. Weather changes, the amount of daylight, and an enzyme called tyrosinase are also theoretical causes of snow nose but little research has been done to determine the reason for the pigmentation alteration of the nose.

Snow nose has been noted more often in certain breeds than others so there may also be a genetic reason for this change. Siberian huskies, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and Bernese mountain dogs are most commonly seen with snow nose but it can still affect any breed of dog.

Treatment of Snow Nose in Dogs

Since no one knows what causes snow nose there is no known treatment but thankfully no treatment is needed. Snow nose is simply a cosmetic change and most color changes return to normal over time.

How to Prevent Snow Nose in Dogs

Preventing snow nose is hard to do since there is no known cause. Without knowing what makes the color change happen it is impossible to avoid it.

Other Issues Affecting Dog Noses

In addition to snow nose, other diseases and issues can affect a dog's nose. Some changes are more concerning than just the color change that is seen in snow nose so if there is anything more than this your veterinarian should be consulted. Crusting, scaling, bleeding, irritation, open sores, and other changes to the texture of the nose may all be signs of a serious condition.

  • Lupus - A type of autoimmune disease, discoid lupus erythematosus causes changes to the nose of a dog. Like other diseases affecting the nose, crusting and scabbing are seen in addition to changes in the nose color.
  • Pemphigus - There are three types of pemphigus: pemphigus foliaceus, pemphigus erythematosus, and pemphigus vulgaris. These are autoimmune diseases that can cause patches of redness on the nose and other parts of the body. The red patches develop into blisters and open sores and changes in the nose color may also be seen.
  • Cancer - Some types of cancer affect the skin and nose causing color changes, redness, bleeding, and scabbing. These wounds usually have difficulty healing.
  • Trauma - If a dog has scraped or rubbed its nose on something abrasive sometimes a layer of skin is removed which changes the color of the nose until it heals. This is similar to when a person skins their knee.
  • Plastic bowls - Sometimes certain materials can be irritating to a dog's nose. Plastic food and water dishes can cause scabbing and bleeding on the nose of sensitive dogs but this problem can be easily solved. Ceramic or stainless steel bowls can replace plastic dishes and therefore stop the nose irritation.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.