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Q&A: Why Is My Dog's Nose Turning Pink?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

There are many possible reasons a dog's nose might start turning pink. Some are more serious than others.

There are many possible reasons a dog's nose might start turning pink. Some are more serious than others.

Why Is My Dog's Nose Suddenly Turning Pink?

"Last year my 10-year-old dog's gums went bright red and the vet was worried about cleaning her teeth. But they did and all went well. Now her nose is turning from brown to pink, her gums are pink not red now, and her lower jaw looks to be going pink.

I’ve been to the vet twice now and I don’t think they have a clue. They had me change her bowls from metal to pot and send photos for the last two weeks. They say she may have allergies or Lupus or cancer and want me to take her in and have biopsies on her gums and nose.

The last conversation with them was Monday and they said they would phone back when I can book her in at £450. I have not heard from them yet.

Since yesterday I have been giving her half a portion of a hay fever tablet to see if this helps.

She is still eating and running around like a healthy cocker spaniel, so I am not sure what’s going on. Both my husband and I had Covid in April and this is when her nose went pink, so not sure if that has anything to do with it. It’s still pink." —Jane

Causes of Pink Noses in Dogs

Unfortunately, a dog's nose can turn pink for several reasons and skin diseases can be difficult to diagnose without a scraping, fungal culture, and even a biopsy. It could be something as simple as Demodex mites, which are now easy to treat, or something as serious as an autoimmune disease. (1)

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There is no guarantee that a biopsy is going to work since it can just show general inflammation, but if the pathologist does find ringworm or mites, you will be sure what is happening and your dog can be treated appropriately.

7 Most Common Reasons a Dog Nose Turns Pink

The seven most common reasons for a dogs nose turning pink (hypopigmented) are:

  1. Ringworm
  2. Demodex mites
  3. Bacterial infection
  4. Allergies like contact dermatitis
  5. Leishmaniasis in some areas (2)
  6. Autoimmune disease like lupus
  7. Skin cancer

What Causes Red Gums in Dogs?

The red gums are usually just caused by an infection or heat stroke. The most common autoimmune disease of cocker spaniels—autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)—is more likely to cause pale gums, not red.

If the biopsy shows that your dog has an autoimmune disease, they may be prescribed prednisone. Be sure to check out my article on side effects of and alternatives to prednisone.

Sources

  1. Moore DJ. Canine systemic lupus erythematosus. The disease, clinical manifestations and treatment. J S Afr Vet Assoc. 1976 Dec;47(4):267-75. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1018295/
  2. Perego, R., Proverbio, D., Bagnagatti De Giorgi, G., & Spada, E. (2014). Prevalence of dermatological presentations of canine leishmaniasis in a nonendemic area: a retrospective study of 100 dogs. Veterinary medicine international, 2014, 374613. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3932634/

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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