By Dr. Karishma Gupte ( M.V.Sc.)*
Dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans. They have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses versus only about 6 million in us. Also, the part of their brain dedicated to interpreting these is about 40 times larger than ours!
It is often said that dog’s nose should remain wet and that dryness may be a sign of illness. Let us understand the significance of wet nose in pets:
Wet nose serves a few vital functions for dogs. First, keeping their noses moist helps them to regulate their body temperature. Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like we do, so they rely on sweat glands in their nose and pads of their feet to help maintain a safe internal temperature.
Dogs’ wet noses also contribute to their incredible sense of smell. Licking their noses helps them to ‘smell’ even more deeply.
If nose of your pet has turned dry, observing your pet throughout the day is essential. Sometimes, nose dries off if the dog does not lick it often or has been sleeping too much. In such a case, nose will turn wet after sometime.
Pugs and Bulldogs can’t lick their nose very well because of conformation of their skull. These dogs often develop a lumpy, crusty, chalky, cracked, and uncomfortable nose.
We can get a clue about dog’s health by observing its nose.
When you notice blood, your pet may have a tumor inside its nose, an abscessed tooth, fungal infection, blood clotting problems or a bleeding disorder. Application of ice may reduce bleeding, but your pet needs to be rushed to a vet for detailed examination.
Severe allergic reactions to pollen, mold, food, etc. can lead to redness and swelling of nose, as well as to excessive rubbing and scratching of face. In such cases, antihistamines are prescribed by vets and root cause of allergy needs to be found out.
Excessive sun exposure, especially in dogs that have pink skin, can cause sunburned skin on their nose that can peel and crack. Generally, vets prescribe pet friendly sunscreen to tackle this problem.
These are deep cuts or wounds visible on nose. This indicates that such a dog may have an immune skin disease, a tumor, or has been exposed to a caustic agent, such as household cleansers. Such dogs need to be given antibiotic and pain management therapy.
If you notice shallow cracks, your dog’s nose may be dry from cold winter air or dry summer weather. Deeper cracks may indicate an immune condition or infection.
Loss of Pigment
It’s not uncommon for colour of a dog’s nose to change slightly. It can be caused by using plastic feed dishes. Nose skin reacts to a melatonin-affecting chemical in plastics, and can occur naturally during cold weather. Loss of nose pigment may also indicate an immune system disorder or a tumor.
Is there a raised area on your dog’s nose? That lump may be a tumor. Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer) in the upper jaw often develops in mouth and under the nose, causing outer part of nose to swell. Dogs with light-coloured noses, which are often exposed to sun, are at the highest risk of this.
If your pet sneezes often or produces a honking sound, he may have allergies, an upper respiratory infection, or an object lodged inside its nose. If it has difficulty in breathing, visit its veterinarian immediately.
When clear liquid drips from its nose, your pet may have allergies to food or something in environment, such as weed. Canine influenza and bordetella also produce clear discharge in abundance. When nasal discharge turns yellow or cloudy, an infection or foreign object lodged in nose might be a cause.
If a dog paws at its nose, rubs it against furniture, or has noisy respiration, there may be a less visible problem, such as a foreign object or mass inside its nasal cavity.
Auto immune diseases
There are some diseases that can cause chronically a dry nose. Auto-immune disorders, such as lupus or pemphigus, can cause changes in surface of the nose that leads to dryness, cracking, and bleeding.
Thus, nose of a dog is window to its overall health. If pet parents are vigilant, we can detect health issues in pets at an early stage and treat them effectively.
* The author is Director, Vetbiotics Animal Healthcare Pvt Ltd
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