My dog's nose is dry. Is he sick?
Guest Post By Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM,
Learning to observe what is normal and and what is not in patients that can't
talk is the first step to observant pet care. A "dry nose" is often seen as a
sign of illness in dogs and cats, but is it? The purpose of this FAQ is to serve
as a basic guideline to know when to consult your vet to see if an examination
is in order.
Answer: The "warm nose myth" has many pet owners feeling that their pet has a
fever (or otherwise sick) if the nose is warm and dry. A dog's (or cat's) nose
may be very wet and cool one moment then be warmer and not-so-moist the next.
All in the course of a day. All perfectly normal.
Changes in texture (crusty, flaky) and color (loss of pigmentation) of a pet's
nose should be looked at by your veterinarian. A prolonged dry, cracked nose,
particularly with loss of pigmentation, scabs or open sores should be examined
by your veterinarian sooner rather than later.
An ill animal will often have a warm, dry nose in addition to other symptoms,
such as: lethargy, decreased or absent appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and so on.
In the absence of other physical signs, there are a host of dermatological
(skin) problems that can be seen in this area, such as Pemphigus Foliaceus.
Other nose conditions to be aware of
Allergies and sensitivities to plastics and dyes may also manifest as changes
on the nose and muzzle area on pets fed from plastic dishes. I recommend using
stainless steel bowls to eliminate this potential problem. Glass or ceramic
bowls are also acceptable, provided that they are study and on a solid surface
to prevent breakage.
Anytime your pet shows signs of a "runny nose" -- one that has discharge
coming from the nostrils -- should be examined by your veterinarian. Coughing,
sneezing and difficulty breathing can be signs of anything from a respiratory
infection to a nasal foreign body to a tumor in the nasal passages. Animals
that show these signs (more than an occasional cough or sneeze) should be seen
by your veterinarian.
Owners of orange or calico cats often note black spots on their cat's nose and
lips as the cat ages. This is called lentigo simplex, and is a normal change
seen commonly in orange tabby and calico cats.
Dogs, cats, horses, and other species are prone to sunburn (also known as
"solar dermatitis") and subsequent skin cancer on noses, ear tips, and around
eyes. Light coated, pink-nosed animals are at greatest risk. Check with your
veterinarian about providing sun protection for your pet if they are in this
category of risk.
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