When I got home from my trip, the family was very concerned about Sofie’s nose. They had all noticed that her black nose had slowly been turning pink. They worried that she was doing something to herself, like scraping off her skin (ouch!). Or that she was sick. I assured them it was nothing to worry about, but then I started to worry. Why does a dog’s nose turn from black to pink? Did she have a vitamin deficiency? Was there something wrong? I know that with age most of my animals had started to lose pigment in their noses, but she was only 2 years old. So, being the ‘research-everything’ person that I am, I of course ‘Googled’ the situation, and found some very interesting facts.
1. Some dogs loose pigment in their noses in the winter. (Which is what I think might be going on here.) They call this ‘snow nose’ or ‘winter nose.’ Who knew? Though it seems to be something that is more common to dogs like Labrador Retrieve, Golden, Bernese or Husky (Sofie being none of those that we know – well maybe Golden?), the seasonal variation is no cause for alarm and goes back to black in the warmer months. I guess we will have to see.
2. Age of course is another reason. There is an enzyme called Tyrosinase which produces pigment. As a dog ages the nasal plenum (that is a cool word, don’t you think?) might change from black to brown or pink, as less of the enzyme is produced. Interestingly enough, Tyrosinase is also sensitive to temperature. This may be why the fading of the ‘plenum’ in warmer months happens too.
3. Dermatitis, especially from plastic bowls, has been found to temporarily cause this. Or a real trauma, like an abrasion. If allergies are the cause, the dogs gums will possibly be red or inflamed too.
4. There is an immune disease that can cause a pink nose, called Vitiligo. (That is the disease that Michael Jackson said he had that turned his skin from black to white. I wonder if Sofie can sing?) But if a dog has this, there would be white patches usually throughout its body and white hairs. This seems to be found in Doberman, German Shepard, Rottweiler, and Dachshund mostly. It appears to be a rare problem, but I was happy to know that it can be managed by nutritional supplements (if you’re worry about the color of your dog’s nose). I guess show dogs can be disqualified if their pigment is not exactly right – so this might help in those cases.
Any changes in our little furry charges is always a cause of concern, but luckily Sofie has to go to the vet soon for her Booster shots, so I will have Dr. Kate take a look. Otherwise I would just wait until spring to see if her nose turns back to black. If it stays pink I guess I will have to invest in some Doggie sunscreen (Is there such a thing?).
What color is your dog’s nose?