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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Nasal Dermatoses in Dogs

By Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD, Professor of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison ; Michael W. Dryden, DVM, PhD, DACVM, University Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University ; Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, DACVD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine ; William W. Hawkins, BS, DVM ; Thomas R. Klei, PhD, Boyd Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Advanced Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine and Louisiana Agriculture Experiment Station, Louisiana State University ; John E. Lloyd, BS, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Entomology, University of Wyoming ; Bernard Mignon, DVM, PhD, DEVPC, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, University of Liège ; Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD ; David Stiller, MS, PhD, Research Entomologist, Animal Disease Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, University of Idaho ; Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DABVT, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Toxicology, Holm Research Center, University of Idaho ; Alice E. Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, Director;Director, Animal Oncology Consultation Service;Pawspice ; Stephen D. White, DVM, DACVD, Professor and Chief of Service, Dermatology, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital; Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis ; Patricia D. White, DVM, MS, DACVD

Nasal dermatoses are diseases of the skin on or near the nose. The nose itself is often referred to as the nasal planum. These conditions are sometimes known as Collie nose or nasal solar dermatitis, depending on the cause.

Many diseases may cause these conditions in dogs. These may affect the bridge of the nose (the muzzle), the nose itself, or both. In cases of pyoderma, dermatophytosis, and demodicosis, the haired portions of the nose are affected. In systemic lupus erythematosus or pemphigus, the whole muzzle is often crusted (with occasional oozing of serum) or covered with ulcers. In systemic and discoid lupus, and occasionally in pemphigus and skin lymphoma, the nose loses color and reddens; eventually the area near the nose may develop ulcers.

Nasal dermatosis due to solar radiation is probably a rare disease and may be a misdiagnosis of the lupus variants. In true nasal solar dermatitis, the nonpigmented areas around the nostrils are affected first, and occasionally the bridge of the nose may become inflamed or ulcerated. These changes are worse in the summer, although lupus and pemphigus may also show this seasonal variation. Any of the above diseases may affect the areas around the eyes. The sudden onset of nasal swelling, redness, and fluid discharge is thought to be caused by an insect sting or bite. The parasitic disease leishmaniasis may cause color loss or ulceration on the nose.

Treatment depends on the cause. Diagnostic tests performed by your veterinarian will likely include skin scrapings, bacterial and fungal cultures, and biopsies. The prescribed treatment will depend on the results of the diagnostic tests.

If the diagnosis is nasal solar dermatitis, a topical steroid lotion may help relieve inflammation. Exposure to sunlight must be severely curtailed. Topical sunscreens may be effective but need to be applied at least twice daily. You should be aware that not all sunscreen lotions prepared for human use are safe for use on dogs. Your veterinarian can recommend a sunscreen that will be tolerated by your dog.