Why Does My Dog Scratch their Nose so Much?

By Olivia Grisham, Journalist specialized in animal care. July 6, 2017
Why Does My Dog Scratch their Nose so Much?

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It is wise to say that dogs see the world through their sense of smell and, because of this, their nose is one of the most exposed areas of the whole dog. Whether to find food remains on the ground, socialize with fellow dogs or detect prey, their snout is permanently in "conflict zones".

All dog owners will have seen how their animal is constantly rubbing the area near their nose. Therefore, AnimalWised want to give you a summary of some of the main reasons that explain why your dog scratches their nose so much.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Dog Scratch Their Ears So Much?

Dog allergies that produce an itchy nose

Surely the arrival of spring triggers this behavior in many allergic dogs but, on other occasions, it could appear throughout the year. It all depends on what is causing the allergy to our dog and, consequently, intense scratching.

  • When there is a pollen allergy, this scratching behavior may be accompanied by sneezing, nasal discharge (rhinorrhea), and possibly inflammation of the eyelids and / or conjunctivitis. Sometimes the dog may have become inflamed, either because they have been closely in contact with the allergen, like a type of grass. In general, corticosteroid therapy is needed to cut off intense itching, as well as keeping them away from lawn areas, especially during mowing.
  • In the case of allergy to dust mites, it is also very common to observe that the dog scratches their nose a lot. Although corticosteroids may be ideal for certain occasions, we will have no choice but to prevent our dog from contacting the farinae (dust mite). Avoid rugs, cushions, blankets, do not let them get under the beds, vacuum the house daily and cleaning furniture with damp cloths will have to become a routine. In the case of this allergy we will notice that our dog does not insist on scratching their nose when they leave home, but when they return.
  • Contact allergy. This is when our dog is allergic to the material from which their toy, feeder, or drinker is made, surely the most affected part is their nose, and intense scratching is inevitable. Redness and wounds may appear in the area of ​​the nasal plane. In this case, in addition to the typical allergy therapy, it is essential to replace everything that directly contacts their snout by the least allergenic possible materials such as stainless steel for feeders, toys without PVC, etc...

Although easy to control, scratching can lead to secondary injuries, such as corneal ulcers and wounds that are susceptible to infection. IF you suspect that allergy is the reason why your dog scratches their nose a lot, go to the vet as soon as possible.

Why Does My Dog Scratch their Nose so Much? - Dog allergies that produce an itchy nose

Skin diseases

The snout area has two key points: a connection between the oral mucosa and the skin on the lips, and the union between the mucosa of the truffle and the skin of the nasal plane. These transition zones are a small Achilles heel. These two sites may be affected by a number of dermatological problems that particularly affect mucocutaneous junctions and cause intense itching.

  • Pemphigus and pemphigoid. There are many varieties (foliaceous, bullous, erythematous ...). Basically this is an immune problem in which the body attacks itself, something called the autoimmune process. In other cases, there is an external problem that causes the formation of antibodies against those areas of the skin, without being an internal process, in which case it is called the immune-mediated process. In any case, we will notice our dog insistently scratching the area of ​​the snout, flaking and erythema or formation of blisters in the nasal plane. Sometimes the lesions appear very typically, as in butterfly wings, and a frequently wet appearance if it is contaminated by bacteria secondarily. The treatment is established after the realization of a differential diagnosis with other possible diseases. It is based on immunosuppressants and antibiotics if there is infection secondary to scratching. They may be in the form of ointments, but the custom of licking usually forces the use of systemic therapy, either orally or injectable. Avoiding the sun in these cases is very important.
  • Sunburns. In white layers, the area of ​​the noses tends to be particularly exposed (little hair and skin always of an intense pink color). Sometimes we do not notice it in summer, and they burn with ease, causing intense discomfort in our dog. They will rub their snout against any surface or scratch in a desperate way. It is very important to prevent this with emollients and regenerating creams based on zinc and vitamin A, for example, or with Aloe vera .
  • Other facial dermatosis that can be done with scratching of snout in our dog can be juvenile cellulitis, painful pyoderma that affects puppies and that although it does not cause itching per se , it gives rise to pain that forces the constant scratching. Dermatofitoisis, fungi in the nasal plane can stimulate scratching and sometimes juvenile acne of the chin, that can cause an itch if it is contaminated secondarily.

It should not be forgotten that the Malassezia pachydermatis yeast, present naturally in the chin and nose area can take advantage of any drop of defenses to proliferate and result in constant scratching.

Caterpillars and foreign bodies

Especially in spring-summer, our dog's snout is exposed almost daily to dozens of species of caterpillars, whose villi are more or less stinging. In the event that our dog sniffs a pine processionary caterpillar, nose and tongue injuries can be terrible, and even result in tissue necrosis.

But there are many other species of caterpillars that irritate the snout of our dog without further ado, since their hairs have the ability to defend them from possible attacks, causing moments of intense itching, sneezing and energetic scratching without major consequences. Monitoring the areas through which they walk to detect their presence and avoid them, will be critical for prevention.

The small spikelets not only penetrate the ears in summer, giving rise to this common urgency, but also can be lodged in one of the nostrils. This immediately causes our dog to insistently rub their nose to try to expel it.

The presence of fly larvae and other insects in the nasal cavity of dogs (miasis) in temperate and cold areas of Europe is not common in some tropical areas. However, their presence would give rise to a logical and frantic scratching of the muzzle.

Why Does My Dog Scratch their Nose so Much? - Caterpillars and foreign bodies

Other rare causes

Although the above causes are the most common, they are not the only ones that can help us understand why dogs scratch their snout a lot. Thus, if our dog has a disturbance in the nasal turbinates, or at the level of their sinuses (air-filled cavities), we may notice abnormal discharges through the nostrils, such as blood, or through continuous scratching.

In the case of neoplasias as aggressive as carcinomas, degeneration of the sinus can lead to deformity of the face - in which case the alteration will be more evident than scratching. However, the discomfort that can result in nose scratching does not always appear, or it does so when the bone alteration has already appeared.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Dog Scratch their Nose so Much?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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