Monday, 17 January 2011
Honey is a three-year-old terrier-Poodle cross. He is full of life and energy, and enjoys running and chasing lizards and cats. He eats well: home-cooked natural food with lots of fresh meat and bones, and is usually outside walking with me and his mates for at least four hours per day.
All was well with him until two weeks ago when part of his nose turned pink. Naturally, I worried, although Honey was as usual: full of energy and happy to run and play. My vet said it could be three things: inflammation, an infection or an imbalance of his immune system. Since he was digging after some lizards it could have been one of the first two. He has been on antibiotics for two weeks and part of his nose has slowly turned back to black. The tip of his nose returned to black but the nasty pink appears halfway up it. Now, two weeks later, he has just a small speck of pink left and I hope it will disappear in a day or two.
My vet said that this may reappear and is not life threatening, but I hate filling Honey up with antibiotics. Is there anything else that could help him? Has anyone ever heard of a dog's nose turning pink before?
D. M. Novak-Antoniou, Greece
Richard Allport, alternative vet, advises:
This is a difficult one to be sure about without a close examination. Many dogs do simply get a change in pigment colour from time to time and the change might be quite normal. Such a change is often seasonal.
On the other hand the colour change could be a sign of an autoimmune disease – however in this case, apart from the pink colour, there are usually signs of inflammation, soreness and crusting at the edges of the nostrils.
I would suggest adding kelp to Honey’s diet, this helps promote a healthy skin in general and seems to help pigmentation problems in particular, and then just wait and see if it recurs or not.
Alison Logan, vet, advises:
As owners, we are made aware of our dog’s nose whenever we are nuzzled for attention so any changes in its colour are quickly apparent. They are also worrying to us because they are so evident.
Nasal depigmentation can be as a result of a serious underlying condition, but in such cases there are often other changes present, such as scaling or ulceration. Honey’s nose is returning to its original black colour, suggesting a less worrying explanation for its occurrence. One possibility is that it was because of an infection which has responded to the antibiotics prescribed by your vet. Alternatively, part of Honey’s nose went pink because of so-called idiopathic nasal depigmentation: for some unidentified reason, the nose changes colour. This may be a permanent change (‘Dudley nose’), or the nose may revert to its usual colour. In some dogs this depigmentation shows a seasonal pattern, occurring in the winter but then becoming pigmented once more in the summer (‘snow nose’).
A further possibility I have come across is depigmentation in response to contact with a rubber or plastic food/water bowl, so I wonder whether you had changed Honey’s bowls from ceramic or metal a little while before the nose changed colour, and then for some reason changed back after the depigmentation occurred?
Has the final pink area disappeared now?