Dog Snow Nose: Why Dogs' Noses Turn Pink in the Winter

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Do you have a dog whose nose turns pink as the weather outside gets colder? If so, your dog might have what is commonly referred to as snow nose. But cold weather isn't the only reason some dogs' noses turn pale. Want to know why dogs' noses turn pink, and whether it is something you should worry about? Here's what you need to know.

What Is Snow Nose?

Siberian husky with pink nose closes eyes in a wintery outdoor scene.Snow nose is a common term for a dog nose that's loses pigment and turns from black/brown to pink. Typically, this either appears as spots or as a stripe down the center of the nose, says Life In the Dog Lane.

Dogs are more likely to get snow nose during the winter or in cold climates. However, snow nose isn't limited to dogs in northern climates, as was once believed. It's usually temporary, with pigment returning to normal once the weather warms up. But as dogs get older, their snow noses sometimes stick around all year.

While snow nose doesn't seem to be restricted to certain types of dogs, some breeds are more likely to get it than others. Snow nose most commonly occurs among Siberian huskies, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs — all breeds that are originally from northern climates.

Why Do Dogs' Noses Turn Pink?

No one knows for sure what causes snow nose. One possible explanation is that it's caused by the breakdown of tyrosinase, the enzyme that produces melanin, or skin pigment, says Cuteness. Tyrosinase is sensitive to cold temperatures and also tends to break down with age. This fails to explain, however, why snow nose only occurs in some dogs and why it can also affect dogs in warmer climates. The answers to these questions remain a mystery.

Should You Worry If Your Dog Gets Snow Nose?

Snow nose doesn't need to be treated by a doctor any more than gray hair in humans needs to be. And there's no way to restore lost pigment to your dog's nose. That said, melanin helps protect your dog's tender nose from sun damage. Without this natural protection, you'll need to limit your dog's sun exposure or apply a dog-friendly sunscreen to their nose before they go into the sun.

And while the exact cause of snow nose is unknown, some veterinarians recommend having your dog's thyroid checked out in order to rule out a thyroid issue as a possible cause, says The Spruce Pets. Some vets also believe that loss of pigment could be a reaction to chemicals leaching from plastic food or water dishes. To be on the safe side, switch your dog's bowls to metal or ceramic if they aren't already. And it's always a good idea to report any sudden changes in the appearance of your dog's nose to your vet.

Snow nose is a fairly common occurrence and usually not cause for concern. Once any health issues are ruled out, you can rest easy knowing there's nothing wrong with your pet — even if their newly pink nose might take some getting used to.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet lover, freelance writer and novelist. She currently lives in the Ozarks with her husband and their gaggle of four-footed dependents, where she enjoys watching a wide array of wild animals in her back yard while drinking her morning coffee.