The colour of a dog’s nose will vary from dog to dog. It can be anything from pink to brown or black.
Some dogs may experience depigmentation of the nose at any point in their life. If your dog’s nose is turning from a dark colour to pink, it is due to a reduction or loss of production of melanin (pigment) in the deeper layers of the skin. It is more common in certain breeds like the Golden Retriever, Labrador, Husky, and German Shepherd.
In most cases, this change alone is harmless and is no cause for concern.
“In the absence of other signs such as crusting, flaking, pimples, redness, ulceration, or raised lumps, medical intervention is usually not required, and the lesion may stay as it is, or the depigmentation may progress with time without ill-effect,” advises Dr. Brian Loon (BVMS), Principal Veterinary Surgeon at Amber Vet.
The reasons for depigmentation include:
Age: Just like how our hair turns white as we grow old, a dog’s nose will also lose its pigment with age.
Season: Some dogs’ noses turn pink only during winter months, and regain their original colour when winter is over. Referred to as “snow nose” or “winter nose”, it may be due to the fact that there is lesser sunlight during those months.
Injury: If there’s trauma to the nose, it can also cause it to turn pink. It should return back to normal after the wound heals.
However, if you also notice any discharge or one or more of the signs mentioned above, you should consult your vet for an assessment. Medical reasons include bacterial infection, contact allergy (e.g. some dogs are allergic to plastic bowls), auto-immune disease, and cancer.
Not to forget, dogs with pink noses are more susceptible to sunburn. Protect them with canine-specific sun protection recommended by your vet.