Crusty Dog Noses (Nasal Hyperkeratosis): Causes & Treatments

Dry crusty dog nose nasal hyperkeratosis

A crusty dog nose is a cause for concern among dog owners. While it is completely normal for a healthy dog to occasionally experience a dry nose, having nasal hyperkeratosis can be very painful and may lead to infections.

Nasal hyperkeratosis or crusty dog nose is a skin condition that occurs when there is an excessive formation of a skin protein called keratin. This results in a thick, dry, and cracked nose on the affected dog. This condition must be treated to avoid infections or impaired sense of smell.

This guide will discuss the causes, treatment, and prevention of dog nose hyperkeratosis. Read until the end to learn how to keep your dog’s nose moist, healthy, and free from infections!

What Causes Crusty Noses on Dogs? 

Labrador Retriever dry and crusty dog nose

For a dog, a moist nose is a sign of good health. Scent particles are better picked up by a wet nose, allowing the dog’s sense of smell to work well. 

This is why it can be worrisome if you notice that your dog’s nose is dry, and even more so if it is so dry that it has cracks and lesions.

While there is no specific cause for dog nose hyperkeratosis, there are several factors that could lead to this.

Below are the factors that can cause nasal hyperkeratosis in dogs:

  • Breed: A crusty dry dog nose is common among brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs, Pugs, Japanese Chin, Brussels Griffons, Cocker Spaniels, and Dogues de Bordeaux. Due to their short muzzles, these flat-faced breeds struggle to keep their noses moisturized as they have trouble licking their noses.
  • Age: A dog’s skin tends to thicken as it ages, especially on its paw pads and nose. With that, the mature and thick skin can result in a dry crusty nose. Thus, older dogs are more prone to developing nasal hyperkeratosis. 
  • Weather: Extremely hot, windy, and cold weather can cause a crusty nose on dogs. Likewise, being close to a heat vent can also lead to a crusty nose. Prolonged exposure to these harsh weather conditions may cause your dog to develop nasal hyperkeratosis.
  • Dehydration: A dog’s dry nose can be caused by constant intense exercise, especially under the heat of the sun. Just like how humans sweat and lose bodily fluids, the high temperature and the strenuous physical routine also deplete your dog’s bodily fluids. If not addressed, this could lead to more complications, including a dry crusty nose.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions can cause itchy skin and a dry and crusty nose. These may be due to fleas, food, and other environmental allergens like pollen, dust, and mold.
  • Fungal infection: Fungal infections like ringworm can result in dry crusty skin on the nose. This is extremely contagious and can be easily acquired through direct contact with infected humans, animals, or objects.

You may not always be in control of the circumstances your dog will be exposed to, but being aware of the causes can help you become keener on taking precautions and noticing when your dog’s nose is dry. 

How to Treat Crusty Dog Noses at Home

A dry crusty nose may not always immediately warrant a trip to the vet. There are treatments you can try at home to help soothe your puppy’s nose when it gets dry and crusty.

While there is no known cure for nasal hyperkeratosis, you can manage this condition by ensuring your dog’s nose is hydrated and moisturized.

To rehydrate a dry dog nose, apply a warm compress to the area. Then follow with a moisturizing pet-safe ointment, oil, or nose balm. 

You can use an over-the-counter product like petroleum jelly to lock in moisture. Although this is considered safe for dogs, consuming large amounts may cause loose stools, so avoid overapplying. 

Meanwhile, if you prefer natural alternatives, you can opt to apply organic coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, or shea butter to your dog’s dry and cracked snout.

In addition, nose balms made from natural ingredients like snout soother are a great option for your dog. A nose balm has a thicker consistency making it easier to apply and longer-lasting than oils.

You should be consistent in your daily routine treatment to effectively manage your dog’s nasal hyperkeratosis and prevent further dryness and infections.

Watch the clip below to get some tips on how to treat a dog’s crusty nose:

Dog's Nose Chapped? Cracking? Heal And Maintain, Easy and Cheap

How to Prevent Crusty Dog Noses

Crusty nose of an incurable dog

Keeping your dog’s nose moist and hydrated is crucial to preventing a dry snout. As scent particles stick to moist noses better, your dog’s sense of smell will benefit from having its nose nice, moist, and healthy.

Below are ways to help prevent crusty dry skin on a dog’s nose:

  • Keep your pup well-hydrated. Make sure your pup has access to clean drinking water at all times to avoid severe dehydration and to enable it to effectively regulate its body temperature.
  • Provide a balanced diet. Whether your dog is one of the toy breeds like a fawn Pug or a large dog breed like a brindle Boxer, it needs a high-quality and balanced diet to function well and maintain a healthy physical appearance. Make sure that your dog is getting enough levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C and that they are not protein, fat, or zinc deficient.
  • Protect your dog from harsh weather. Prevent dry skin on your pup’s nose by ensuring it stays indoors during the hottest parts of the day and applying sun protection when it needs to go outside. Likewise, you can also apply moisturizers such as a snout soother and coconut oil to add extra protection from the wind and the cold.
  • Keep your home clean. Regular dusting, cleaning, and disinfecting can help eliminate allergens and fungus that can cause a dry dog nose. Pay close attention to areas in your home that your dog frequents and thoroughly clean its bed, feeding bowls, toys, and grooming supplies. 
  • Visit your vet regularly. Taking regular trips to the vet helps ensure that your dog’s good health condition is maintained and that any illness is detected early on. This is crucial as your dog ages since it becomes more prone to develop nasal hyperkeratosis during its adult and senior years.

By taking these precautionary measures and being keen on noticing any signs of dog skin issues, you will be able to help prevent your pooch from having a crusty nose dog.

When to See Your Vet

While a dog’s crusty nose can heal at home, there are instances when a trip to the vet is necessary.

When you notice that your dog is severely uncomfortable or may already be in pain, it is best to have your vet check and treat your pup.

Likewise, if you notice any signs of infection with the nose crust, speak with your dog’s vet.

Your veterinarian may need to remove the excess layers of crust on the dog’s nose and treat it with an antibiotic.

In addition, if your dog shows other signs of illness apart from just a dry nose, such as fever, cough, loss of appetite, or vomiting, take it to the vet immediately.

Aside from your dog’s nasal hyperkeratosis, it may be suffering from another underlying disease that needs to be properly diagnosed and treated. 

Medical Conditions With Similar Signs of Dog Nose Hyperkeratosis

Old dog with dry crusty dog nose 1

There are other medical conditions that can be mistaken for crusty dry dog noses.

While these conditions similarly exhibit a crusty dry nose in affected dogs, there are other symptoms that accompany these diseases.

This is why it is important to be watchful of other symptoms that may appear along with a dog’s dry nose. 

To help you with this, I have listed the medical conditions with similar signs of dog nose hyperkeratosis in the following sections.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening to all dog breeds, especially unvaccinated ones. This is caused by a virus that affects dogs’ nervous, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems. 

Aside from dry nose, fever, nasal and eye discharge, weakness, vomiting, and loss of appetite are symptoms of this illness.

Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis 

Hereditary nasal parakeratosis is a skin condition that causes a dry crusty nose due to an inherited abnormal gene. 

This is common among Labrador Retrievers and other Labrador crosses like the Aussie Labradoodle and Pugador

As this is a genetic disease, dogs that carry the abnormal gene can pass it on to their offspring even when they show no visible symptoms.


Leishmaniasis is a parasitic infection in dogs caused by a sandfly bite. Symptoms of this disease include loss of appetite, fever, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, and crusty bleeding nose. 

Severe leishmaniasis can lead to breathing difficulties and kidney failure. To accurately diagnose if your dog is infected by this disease, your dog’s travel history, blood, urine, and tissue samples will be examined.

Pemphigus Foliaceus

Pemphigus Foliaceus is a skin disorder wherein the dog’s immune system attacks its skin cell connections.

As a result, dogs with this disease experience open sores, hair loss, and crusty skin on the nose, ears, and face.

This illness can be hereditary or may also be caused by the intake of certain antibiotics. A skin biopsy is needed to determine if your dog has this disorder.

Superficial Necrolytic Dermatitis

Superficial necrolytic dermatitis is a rare skin illness that can affect all dog breeds. 

This severe illness is common among dogs suffering from pancreatic or liver disease and is characterized by chronic skin lesions on the face, paws, and even the genital areas. 

Aside from crusty dry noses, affected dogs also experience weight loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disorder wherein the dog’s immune system attacks its tissues and organs, resulting in arthritis, fever, loss of appetite, crusty nose and lips, and weakness. 

This illness can be difficult to treat and may require lifelong medication to manage symptoms. A blood test will reveal if your dog is suffering from this disorder. 

Zinc-Responsive Dermatosis

Zinc-responsive dermatosis is a rare disease that occurs among dogs due to zinc deficiency. This may be a result of inadequate intake of required zinc levels or an inability to absorb zinc. 

Symptoms include weakness, enlarged lymph nodes, hair loss, blisters, along with dry snout. 

As your dog’s zinc levels can be challenging to determine, your vet will need to verify its medical and diet history and perform a skin biopsy, in addition to a physical examination, to diagnose this disease properly.

If you notice your pet showing other symptoms aside from a dog nose crusty such as those listed above, contact your vet and have your pup examined.

Frequently Asked Questions

Black dog with crusty dog nose nasal hyperkeratosis

Can I Put Vaseline on My Dog’s Nose?

Yes, you can put Vaseline or petroleum jelly on your dog’s dry nose. 

However, while this is safe to be applied on your pup’s skin, it can also cause an upset stomach if your dog ends up licking it off and consuming a large amount.

As an alternative, you may opt to apply natural oils such as olive oil, shea butter, organic coconut oil, and almond oil. 

Likewise, you can also use nose balms like snout soother, nozzle nectar, and nose butter for a dry crusty dog nose.

Can I Put Neosporin on My Dog’s Nose?

While you can apply a small amount of Neosporin on your dog’s nose when it is dry and crusty, this is not an ideal treatment. This is because dogs lick their nose, and ingesting Neosporin can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

To help heal a crusty nose, consider safer options such as those that contain pet-safe natural ingredients and products specifically formulated for canines.

Why Is One Side of My Dog’s Nose Crusty?

If your dog’s nose is crusty only on one side, this could be a symptom of a tear duct problem. 

Brachycephalic breeds are especially prone to this condition, and it is best to have your canine checked by a vet to confirm this.

In addition, a dry dog nose that appears crusty only on one side could be indicative of a fungal infection. With this, it is also recommended to take your dog to the vet to have it checked.

Final Thoughts

Skin conditions like a crusty dog nose can make any pet parent worry. As the quality of life of our beloved canine is a top priority, we need to be aware of the factors that can make our dog’s nose dry and crusty to prevent and manage it.

Likewise, being more attentive to other signs and symptoms of other underlying illnesses can help us better determine when it becomes crucial for us to seek our vet’s help.

While we cannot always be in control of the things and circumstances that our furry family members undergo, knowing how to best help them when it comes to dry, crusty noses is already significant.

Has your dog experienced this condition before? Let us know how you managed your dog’s crusty nose in the comment section below!

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