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Why Does My Dog Have Crusty Sores on Her Nose and What Can I Do About it?

Updated on December 17, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr Mark is a small animal veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

Lupus is another autoimmune disease of dogs that can sometimes attack the face.
Lupus is another autoimmune disease of dogs that can sometimes attack the face. | Source

The first step in treating a dog with crusty sores on the nose is finding out what is wrong. If the dog has cancer, it will do no good to treat him for mange. If you try to treat him for an autoimmune disease, and he really has sunburn, the face is only going to get worse.

Many of the readers searching for this title are looking for an answer and want to know what they can do at home. The answer is: NOT MUCH.

The best thing you can do is take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. If the vet cannot diagnose the crusty nose based on a physical exam and thorough history, he will probably scrape the skin and examine it under a microscope. If the answer is still unclear, the nose might need to be biopsied and a sample of the tissue sent to a laboratory.

What can cause crusty sores on the face and nose?

 
• Infection (for example, demodectic mange, bacterial pyoderma, fungal, etc.)
• Autoimmune disease (Cutaneous lupus, pemphigus types)
• Trauma (secondary to scratching, burns, severe sunburns, and frostbite)
Nasal solar dermatitis
• Drug reaction
• Food allergy
• Cancer (like lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma)
• Systemic disease (like calcinosis cutis, uremia secondary to kidney failure)
Mange can attack any part of the body but sometimes affects the face.
Mange can attack any part of the body but sometimes affects the face. | Source

Is your dog going to get better?

That really depends on what is wrong.

  • Mange caused by demodex can be difficult to treat but there are several new alternatives to try.
  • Autoimmune diseases can be treated with injections of steroids and some dogs will recover. If you give steroids to a dog with demodectic mange, he will get worse.
  • If your dog´s nose has been traumatized and since become infected, there are several antibiotics that might help clear it up. If you give antibiotics to a dog with an autoimmune disease, it will not help.
  • You can try putting your dog on an elimination diet if you and your vet suspect a food allergy and if you find the cause the sores will disappear. An elimination diet removes one protein source from the diet at a time, until you are able to find out what is causing your dog´s problem. It is not just “changing the food”.
  • Cancer can be treated traditionally or alternatively. It is important to know the cause and how aggressive the tumor is before choosing the best treatment.

Pemphigus is one cause of a crusty face and nose on a dog.
Pemphigus is one cause of a crusty face and nose on a dog. | Source

Are some dog breeds more likely to be affected by crusty sores on the nose?

  • Dogs with pink noses and pale skin are more prone to sunburn.
  • Boxers, Dobermans, and Shar Peis are more susceptible to demodectic mange. Some Pitbull lines are also very prone to develop this problem.
  • Collies and Shelties are more likely to develop pemphigus.
  • German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Brittanys are prone to cutaneous lupus.
  • Boxers are prone to some types of skin cancers.
  • Remember that although young dogs are more prone to infection and old dogs are more prone to autoimmune diseases and cancer, this is not true all of the time.
  • All dogs can be affected by something. If your dog has a sore nose and a crusty face have her seen as soon as possible, no matter what her age, her history, or her breeding.

A normal nose can be a little crusty but has no ulcerations. Check it every week during the DIY physical exam.
A normal nose can be a little crusty but has no ulcerations. Check it every week during the DIY physical exam. | Source

What can you do at home before finding out what is wrong?

  • Wear latex gloves before treating your dog´s face. Some of the diseases are zoonotic (spread from animal to man) and might infect any scratches or other open wounds on your hands.
  • Gently wash the face with warm water.
  • Take some betadine from your first aid kit and dab it on the crusty facial lesions with a cotton ball. Do not scrub it since that might cause bleeding and might mess up the biopsy that will help diagnose the skin problem.
  • If you need to, dab the skin dry with a clean paper towel.
  • Take the dog in to see his veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you cannot afford to take your dog in for an exam and diagnostic testing, some vets will treat the dog based on what it MIGHT be. Sometimes this will work, but at other times it will end up costing you more in repeated visits and additional medication. Try to do the best you can for your companion.

Get his crusty and sore nose diagnosed right away.

© 2014 Dr Mark

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    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 2 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Tia, if this were just hair loss I would not be in a hurry, but since you mentioned breathing problems you should have your dog checked by your local vet as soon as possible. An autoimmune disease like systemic lupus is a much more likely culprit.

    • profile image

      Tia mccandless 2 months ago

      I changed my dogs foodand water bowl to metal so its not a allergic reaction. And it sounds like for her hair loss that she has hydrothyroidism what can i do for my dog with both these problems also she is having these breathing problems when she breathes her whole body seema like it is tensing up what do i do?

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 3 years ago

      Seems my reply went away - I private messaged you to send you a picture. She did have a yellow crust on her nose. They biopsied her nose and lips and sent it to UGA. They said it was an extreme allergy; we guessed the water bowl, and after the treatment and no more plastic her nose has returned to normal. Maybe border collies are special lol.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Plastic bowl allergy does not cause any sores or crusts (at least according to my experience), just pigment loss to the nose, which is why I did not include it on the list. Did she have any sores or was it just color change? Let me know, please.

      Glad switching the bowl worked out for you. That is usually enough, so I wonder if the steroids were given for something else?

      Some of these dogs are just a mystery, as you well know!!

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 3 years ago

      My girl Ruby had a crusty nose that lost pigment. We did all the diagnostics and they came back that she had an allergy (to the plastic water bowl). Switching to a stainless steel bowl, antibiotics and steroids fixed her nose. Kelp helped bring the pigment back.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks again for reading, Diana. I appreciate your support!

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 3 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      This is another very informative hub. Voted up and interesting.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I´ve felt kind of bad since I did not have any pictures. "I know you are upset about your dog´s cancer, but can you stop crying and let me take his picture?"

      I guess I need to be more hard-hearted. All I have is a bunch of booger shots.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      A new and interesting topic, to me, anyway. Who knew there could be so many conditions to compromise the nose leather! Well presented, as expected...voted up, useful and interesting. BTW, you forgot one condition...boogers. The treatment is a wet paper towel. Don't thank me, I'm glad to help :)

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      mylifetips ---fresh air and food without salt do not cure diseases like mange, pemphigus, or lupus. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • mylifetips profile image

      Ireedui Gantogtokh 3 years ago from Mongolia

      Maybe your dog need a fresh air and do not feed food with a salt. That`s all if it`s not affect go to animal hospital

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