What Makes a Dog's Nose Change Color?

What Makes a Dog's Nose Change Color?

Last update: 23 June, 2018

Cases of canine nose discoloration are becoming more common. Therefore, you shouldn’t neglect this small but important organ.

Human noses aren’t the only ones that give clues about your health or mood. You can tell a lot about a dog’s health by observing his snout. Changes in its appearance, such as humidity or texture may be symptoms of different diseases.

Why does a dog’s nose change color?

Discoloration occurs when a dog’s nose goes through depigmentation. The area that used to be black or brown gradually becomes skin-colored (a shade of light pink).

dog's nose changes color

However, a discolored nose doesn’t always mean that a dog is sick! There are natural and genetic factors that can cause a dog’s nose to change color.

A birthmark

Some dogs are born with depigmented noses. This trait is even highly desired in order to preserve the breed. It occurs mainly in Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and American Pit Bulls.

The absence of sunlight during the winter also makes a dog’s nose change color. The nose will go back to its original color when summer arrives. This is common in dogs with light fur living in cold climates, such as the Siberian Husky, Eskimo and Alaska Malamute.

A dog’s nose can also get lighter over time as the dogs ages. However, if none of the conditions mentioned above apply to your dog, then a discolored nose may be a bad sign. You should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. 

What can make a dog’s nose change color?

Nose depigmentation can be the result of bodily dysfunction or external causes:

Internal causes

  • Vitamin B complex deficiency
  • Autoimmune/systemic diseases.
  • Autoimmune and/or systemic disorders
This applies to Lupus, Uveodermatologic syndrome, hypothyroidism, pemphigus and Vitiligo. Irritation and depigmentation of the mucous membranes and the nose is the main symptom of these diseases.

Dudley Nose

The main symptom of this genetic anomaly is the discoloration of a dog’s nose. It does not cause serious risks to the animal’s health.


Some dogs have a higher tendency than other animals to develop allergies. Allergies caused by being exposed to plastic may cause nose depigmentation.  Metal containers are recommended for giving dogs food and water.

External causes for depigmented noses

  • Excessive exposure to the sun

Dogs are more sensitive to sunlight than humans. The nose is especially vulnerable to excessive exposure to solar rays. Burns and irritation may cause depigmentation. For this reason, it’s common for dogs that live in the street to have spotted noses.

How to prevent a dog’s nose from changing color

1. A balanced diet

The most common cause of canine nose depigmentation is an unbalanced diet that causes vitamin B-complex deficiency.
A good diet balances quantity and quality. Don’t believe all the advertisements you see. It’s important to understand that there isn’t exactly a better or worse food. However, there is food that is better for your pet because it’s specifically customized to his breed, demeanor, age and lifestyle.
Therefore, a vet should advise you on which food to feed your dog. You should follow his/her directions and avoid giving human food to your dog. Human food can be harmful.

2. Sunscreen

Excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is harmful to both animals and humans. Dogs may suffer from burns, irritation, depigmentation, and the risk of cancer.

dog's nose change color

Dog-friendly sunscreen is available. Before exposing the animal to sunlight, protect his skin completely by applying it to his nose and ears.

3. Frequent veterinary consultations

It is often difficult to diagnose systemic and autoimmune diseases in dogs. Therefore, you should take him to the vet on a regular basis and keep him current on his check-ups, vaccines, and anti-parasitic treatments. There are many silent diseases in the animal kingdom. So, small symptoms such as nose discoloration should not be ignored.

Main image source: Marta Jimenez