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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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My Westie has a very sore nose which scabs up all the time ...

Customer Question

My Westie has a very sore nose which scabs up all the time even though I bathe it and apply oitment and sunscreen. Whilst bathing it the other day the whole top of his nose which had scabbed badly
came off. Can you advise me as what to do.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

Hi Diane,

I would like to try to help you and your Westie. That sounds like an uncomfortable nose that your boy has!

There are a number of possibilities for what may be going on with his nose. The top ones that I would consider are discoid lupus erythematosus, nasal hyperkeratosis, solar dermatitis, pemphigus, a type of cancer called mycosis fungoides, or ringworm. Let me explain a bit more about them:

1. Discoid Lupus Erythematosus is a form of lupus, which is an auto-immune disorder in which the body's own immune system starts attacking part of the body. It usually just affects the nose and sometimes the face. It is more commonly seen in dogs that live in places where they get higher levels of ultraviolet light - at high altitude and in sunny locations. I hardly ever see it here in Ontario, but saw it fairly frequently in California.

Treatment involves giving Vitamin E and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids by mouth. It can take 2-3 months to see improvent, however. Also, you should use sunscreen (NO zinc Oxide!) before taking him outside. Apply it right before you distract him with a snack or toy for 10 minutes so it has time to be absorbed. Some dogs need topical or oral corticosteroids in order to treat this.

Here is more about it:

2. Your dog might have nasal hyperkeratosis. Keratin is what your hair and nails are made out of, and it is what the top layers of the nose are made of. In some dogs, this keratin layer grows to be too many layers thick, and then you see a dry, crusty nose.

This can happen for a number of reasons. Here is some more information:

3. Solar dermatitis - this condition occurs more in high altitude and sunny locations as well, and is from chronic exposure to ultraviolet light.

4. Pemphigus - this is another auto-immune problem in which the body's immune system starts to attack the body itself. It starts around the nose, usually, and spreads to include the eyes. It is treated with corticosteroids at high doses. Here is more, including photos:

5. Mycosis fungoides is type of lcancer called ymphoma that affects the skin. This is *rare* but carries a poor prognosis. The best chance for successful treatment involves early diagnosis. Here is more :

6. Ringworm - this is a fungal infection that can cause hairloss. It can occur secondary to another problem. For example if your boy had solar dermatitis then he could get a ringworm infection on top of that because the skin is damaged and has cracks in it that allow the ringworm to invade. Ringworm is transmissible to humans. Here is more:

7. Malassezia (yeast) infection - This is something that Westies are prone to, unfortunately. Often it affects larger areas than just the nose, but it can be limited to one area. Here is more:

So, as you can see, there are a number or problems that all look similar that could be causing this problem with your dog's nose. In order to make a correct diagnosis, a veterinarian would have to see your dog and probably have to take a small biopsy of the area. If you are not interested in pursuing that at this time there are some things you can try at home that may be very helpful and certainly would do no harm. I would suggest:

1. Omega fatty acid supplementation - there are a number of different ones on the market. Here is one example:

2. Apply something topically to moisturize. I have had success with Alpha-Keri bath oil, applied to a cotton ball and held on the nose 2 or 3 times daily for 5 minutes at a time. Others like to use Vaseline. It works well if your dog doesn't lick it off! If you apply it right before feeding time, he may forget about it while he eats which will allow some time for it to be absorbed.

3. Avoid sun from 10am-4pm

4. Apply sunscreen - see above about applying before eating.

Good luck with your Westie and I hope that he is feeling better soon!

If this has answered your question, please hit the green "Accept" button. I will still be here to provide more information if you need it!