Winter nose in dogs

Written by m.b. lachlei
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Winter nose in dogs
Siberian huskies often have "winter nose." (husky image by kolesn from Fotolia.com)

Some dogs' noses seem to change colour depending on the change of the seasons. Dogs that have this happen usually have a pink or light brown change starting at the middle of the dog's nose and extending out to the nostrils or even beyond. People call the condition "winter nose" or "snow nose."

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What is Winter Nose?

Winter nose, or hypopigmentation, is a seasonal condition that occurs in some dogs. No one really knows what causes winter nose or snow nose, according to Dr. Mike Richards, a veterinarian with VetInfo, although the amount of sunlight or heat may play a role. It is not considered to be linked to a disease.

Which Breeds Get Winter Nose?

Many breeds and mixed breeds can get winter nose, but it is most common with light-coated dogs. Some dog breeds such as Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs seem to have a predilection for having winter nose.

Time Frame

Winter nose usually starts around midfall, when the nose begins to gradually lighten, and continues until midspring, when the nose darkens to its normal pigmentation.

Misconceptions

Winter nose is not a harmful condition, although some pet owners might be worried about the change. Richards says it's extremely unlikely that home remedy attempts to darken the nose would be worth the effort, as the condition is temporary and spontaneously corrects itself with the change of the seasons anyway. Although it is called "snow nose," snow needn't be present for the change to occur.

Warning

Other conditions can cause lack of pigmentation in a dog's nose, including vitiligo, which can be linked to an auto-immune disorder; contact dermatitis, often caused by feeding from plastic dishes; discoid lupus; and pemphigus. If your dog's nose loses its colour in the summer or does not return to normal, you may wish to have a veterinarian examine your dog.

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