I, Heather Abraham, have a confession to make: the glistening, wet nose has always been one of my favorite anatomical parts of the canis lupus familiaris.
Don’t ask me why. I’m not entirely sure, myself.
I suspect, however, it has something to do with the friendliness and curiosity concentrated at the tip of those furry muzzles.
Those unexpected- yet entirely welcome- nose kisses on your elbow (or face!) from a passing canine pal.
The all-over-the-window smudges in the backseat of every car that has ever carried a healthy, excited passenger pooch.
Call me a sucker for dog noses, because that’s what I am.
Having three dogs of my own that incidentally like to tumble around with each other a lot, I’m often left with the following thought in my mind after an afternoon of play:
“My dog scraped his nose… Will it turn black again??”
Thankfully, the answer to this question is almost always “Yes”.
The tissue (otherwise known as ‘leather’) that makes up dog noses are unsurprisingly delicate and soft. It doesn’t take much at all for a smattering of the surface skin cells to be scraped off on the ground, against a fence, or even in a crate!
However, unless it is a particularly deep cut or puncture, most scraped dog snoots will heal and eventually return to their beautiful sable origin.
There’s nothing that you really even have to do as an owner to facilitate this healing process. Just as quickly as a dog’s nose can be scratched, any wound on it also heals quite rapidly too due to the fact that the nose receives a potent supply of blood.
If the graze is a bit deeper, it may help to use topical ointments like Neosporin or vitamin E oils to speed up recovery.
If your dog can’t help but to scratch at or otherwise fiddle with its injured snout, an Elizabethan collar (E-collar/Cone of Shame) may also be beneficial.
Just keep in mind that while an open wound will usually scab over and heal quite quickly, this does not mean that the nose will return to its original black color straight away.
This is due to depigmentation of the affected skin cells, which will result in a temporary pink or white spot in the area of the scratch.
Rest assured, however: while it may take weeks or even months for the nose to turn fully black again, it will do so eventually. Your pup’s nose may even heal so perfectly that you forget that it was ever scraped in the first place!
- Why Is My Dog’s Nose Scraped?
- So, Will My Dog’s Nose Turn Black Again After A Scratch?
- How Do You Treat A Scrape On A Dog’s Nose?
- My Dog Scraped Its Nose On A Crate… How Long Does It Take Kennel Nose To Heal?
- In Summary
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There are quite literally a thousand different possible ways as to how your dog might have scraped its nose.
Given the general pointiness of the snout, and the overwhelming curiosity of the average dog, it is almost inevitable that their noses will be injured in some way throughout their lifetime.
As an illustrative example, here are just a few of the different possibilities that could result in a grazed nose:
- Playing/roughhousing with other dogs at home, the park, or doggy daycare
- Being ‘schooled’ by the neighborhood cat or squirrel
- Rubbing its nose against a metal fence or crate while confined due to separation anxiety
- Licking its nose incessantly during the winter time, causing it to become chapped due to layers of skin coming off
- Digging around among the dirt and rocks
- Attempting to clean its face on the nearest available surface
- Scratching at a itch on its snout caused by allergies, dry skin, or parasites
- Trying to relieve pain inside its nose caused by bug bites, a trapped object, or physical trauma by rubbing it on the floor or carpet
Usually, sniffers that are scuffed on the surface do not require veterinary intervention.
However, depending on the severity of the cut, an open wound on the nose can still be very painful for a poor pup!
That’s why it’s extremely important that owners know how to treat a scraped nose when it happens. Better yet, recognize and minimize the situations where grazed snoots are a distinct possibility!
If your dog’s nose is scuffed due to self-inflicted chafing, the best way to prevent future instances is by dealing directly with the root cause.
For example, if your pooch is constantly stroking at its nose due to allergic or environmental reasons, it would be logical to take steps such as switching up its food or regularly washing bedding and carpets that could be the likely origin of those allergens.
Flea collars and treatments such as Seresto and Frontline can also be used to prevent insect bites that would otherwise cause nasal irritation and itchiness.
Dabbing moisturizing substances such as aloe vera or Vitamin E oil can be particularly beneficial in wintertime to stop a dog’s snout from drying out in harsh, frigid temperatures.
If a dog’s nose rubbing is the result of an underlying behavioral condition such as OCD or separation anxiety, it can be trickier to resolve.
Though it may sometimes be as simple as correcting an offending pup with a firm “No!” and the promise of treats and toys, it may pay to consult a vet or dog behaviorist if the problem appears to be more complex.
By doing so, you will be able to stop your dog from hurting itself again and again in the future!
In most cases: Absolutely.
Especially in cases of minor grazing, any pigmentation that was lost due will only be superficial and will return by itself in due time.
The process is usually as follows:
- The minor scratch or scrape occurs for one of the reasons already explored above,
- The scratch scabs over in a day or two (if it was even a deep enough cut to do so),
- The scab falls off, leaving an area of healed skin but lightened pigmentation,
- The skin gradually darkens over the weeks and months that follow.
The only situation where a cut on the nose may not return to its original color is when the wound is sufficiently deep or severe. In these cases, the depigmentation may be permanent as the skin loses its capability of making a full recovery.
For example, a dog that pushes its feline housemate to its limit may be on the receiving end of a strike that cuts deep into nasal flesh.
Such a strike will not only cause significant bleeding (and yelping) in the moment, but may also result in an area of the nose that recovers only to a greyish-white color (otherwise known as a ‘battle-scar’) at best.
Even though cuts on the nose will usually revert to their original coloration after some time, many owners underestimate just how long it takes for the repigmentation process to run its course.
Younger dogs will typically heal more quickly, but in general the scratches can stay white or pink for not days or weeks, but months– gradually becoming more faded and darker only as time goes by.
In fact, it would be realistic to expect the grazed area to be pink or paler in color for at least 2-3 months after the scab has fallen off.
Adding onto this, the already lengthy healing process also relies on the dog to not reopen the wound in any way- a hefty request as many dog owners can attest!
If the canine does anything to reinjure its nose (such as nudging at blankets or digging into the ground), it can again slow down the overall tissue and pigment recovery.
So, while most dogs do get there in the end, the road back to a pitch black nose post-abrasion can be a long and arduous one!
Keep in mind that it will take time, and try not to worry too much! The best thing you can do for your dog is to keep its nose as clean as possible, and away from any potentially dangerous situations for the time being.
The first thing you will want to do when your dog has scraped its nose is to establish how severe the cut is.
This is usually a pretty simple task. The general rule of thumb: The deeper the cut and the more it bleeds- the more attention it needs!
If the graze is only superficial, then you may not even need to do anything at all other than just allowing it to heal on its own.
However, it would still be a good idea to clean up the scrape a bit by washing it with antibacterial soap and water.
It is also recommended to apply a topical antibiotic like Bacitracin or Neosporin over the next week or so to help to keep the wound clean and bacteria-free.
Once the skin has healed, you can also periodically apply more natural options like Vitamin E oil and aloe vera to keep the area moisturized and in a prime state for pigment recovery.
You may need to apply the ointments multiple times throughout the day, since dogs will tend to lick off any substance placed on their noses quite readily!
(Top Tip: The name of the game is distraction! As soon as you apply ointment to your dog’s nose, distract it by drawing its attention to a treat, toy or the promise of a walk outside.
Giving it another more rewarding activity to do straight away will most likely make your pooch forget all about the fact that you just smeared its snout with a mysterious substance.)
If, however, it is a deeper wound, you will need to calm your dog down and begin some form of treatment. This will typically involve stopping the flow of blood, cleaning the gash area, and applying a layer of antibacterial protection to keep nasty germs away.
Naturally, your dog probably won’t be too pleased that you want to fiddle around with its already painful nose. Therefore, you may need to leash it up or put a muzzle over its mouth so that you can hold the dog still enough for you to work on.
Deeper cuts or punctures to the nasal region of a canine can tend to bleed quite profusely. Sufficient pressure will need to be applied, and you can do so by pressing on the nose with a clean gauze, cloth, or towel.
Once the bleeding has slowed to a trickle, it can be very helpful to then apply something called styptic powder. This will sting a bit for your pup, but will help to clot up any residual hemorrhaging.
If the bleeding doesn’t slow down even when significant pressure is applied, then your dog may be in need of stitches. In this situation, the best course of action would be to take it to the vet ASAP.
Keep in mind that deeper grazes and punctures are more at risk of further infection. That’s why it’s super important to protect the wound with a layer of Neosporin or other antibacterial substance to help keep it clean.
A good choice is this Forticept Blue Butter Gel that you can pick up straight off Amazon. Unlike some formulas that are intended for human use, Blue Butter is explicitly created to be used on pets.
Not only that, it is specifically effective and safe for wounds around the mouth, nose, and ears, making it the perfect protection for a scrape to your pup’s sniffer.
Making sure that there is a constant defensive layer on a dog’s injured nose is especially important because it is usually quite difficult to bandage or otherwise cover up a wound in the nasal zone.
The constant moisture of a canine’s snout means that any tape or gauze is unlikely to stay in place- not to mention the fact that most dogs will want to wipe any fabric covering straight off with their paws anyway!
Here’s where a soft and reversible E-collar (‘Cone of Shame’) like the Comfy Cone below can be very handy.
An effective E-collar will be able to prevent a dog from reaching its nose with its paws, drastically lessening the chances of re-injury while still allowing it to drink and eat normally.
A longer cone that goes past the tip of the dog’s nose will also stop the pooch from being able to rub its snout directly into the ground.
Benadryl provided at a dosage of ½mg per pound of body weight every 12 hours can also be very beneficial in reducing the irritation and itchiness that can cause your dog to want to lick or scratch at the wound.
It’s important to remember that the cleaner the wound is kept and the smaller the topical bacteria count that is allowed, the more quickly (and with less scarring) the lesion will heal.
It can definitely take longer for a deep gash on the nose to heal in a given timeframe, since it generally takes quite a long time for skin cells to encompass the area and can be pretty difficult to get a good scab on.
If at any point you notice that the wound is not healing as expected, or if it begins to swell or ooze discharge, take your dog to the vet immediately. In this situation, the pup may need the help of oral antibiotics to recover from the injury.
Once the wound has healed over completely, follow the steps laid out in the “Shallower Grazes” section above to maximize repigmentation. With an effective treatment plan, your dog’s nose should be back to its glorious pitch-black self in a matter of months!
As we’ve already mentioned above, the best way to keep a dog’s nose from scarring is to reduce further potential instances of trauma and infection to the area.
This can be achieved through:
- Diligent monitoring of the dog’s activities day-to-day during the healing process
- Application and reapplication of topical antibiotics and ointments such as Neosporin, Bacitracin, and Forticept Blue Butter Gel
- Making the dog wear an effective cone-shaped E-collar like the Comfy Cone
- Facilitating moisture retention through the use of substances like Vaseline, aloe vera, and Vitamin E oil.
The more that you can prevent the wound from being reaggravated and re-opened, the quicker it will heal.
Keep an eye out for instances where the nose leather displays any abnormalities in texture (shiny and smooth rather than indented like normal), or if the grazed area becomes crusty or ulcerated.
These can be symptoms of a few different undesirable possibilities, such as:
- Fungal or bacterial infection
- Autoimmune disease (where the body’s immune system attacks itself)
- Skin disease caused by zinc deficiency
- Cancerous developments such as carcinoma.
In this situation, the best course of action would be to take your dog to the vet’s office immediately for a closer examination and treatment.
“What is kennel nose?” You might wonder.
If you’ve ever boarded your dog at a kennel (or even a 5-star doggy hotel), you’ve likely seen this common phenomenon firsthand.
Kennel nose describes the raw, red spot on the topside of the snout that many dogs come home with after a stay at a boarding facility.
So, how do they end up with this injury?
Dogs, being the territorial creatures that they are, have a strong, built-in instinct to protect their belongings and food- especially in strange new settings surrounded by unfamiliar adversaries.
As a result, many dogs will attempt to hide their food by burying their dish- and even individual kibble pieces- under blankets. In the process of doing so, they often cause injury to their noses by bruising them or rubbing them raw!
In addition to this, many dogs staying at kennels will also hurt their noses from attempting to chew at the doors or fences of the enclosures that they are placed in. They will often do this out of separation anxiety.
With that said, kennel nose is most likely to be a shallow, superficial wound like those that have already been discussed in the section above.
The skin of the nose is surprisingly resilient, and a mere surface-level scrape will typically make a full recovery with no lasting signs of damage.
The timeframe for the skin to heal from kennel nose should be around a week or two, and if the black leather of the nose was injured it will again also take up to a few months for complete repigmentation.
Kennel nose can be treated in pretty much the exact same manner as other superficial nose injuries, already detailed in the section above (“How Do You Treat A Scrape On A Dog’s Nose?”).
What differs with kennel nose is that there are a few additional strategies that you can utilize to reduce the likelihood of it happening in the future. As is often said- prevention is better than the cure.
Since many of the behaviors that cause kennel nose are anxiety-derived, it would make sense then to reduce the amount of stress and fear that your dog feels as much as possible.
There are several ways in which you can accomplish this, such as:
- Packing your dog’s favorite toys, blankets, bedding, and treats for its stay
- Giving anti-anxiety medication such as melatonin, as prescribed by a vet
- Using OTC anti-anxiety sprays such as Adaptil
- Providing anti-anxiety chews
- Giving your dog a DAP (‘Dog Appeasing Pheromones’) collar to wear
- Giving it a thunder shirt or similar anti-anxiety material to wear
- Allowing your pup to get used to socializing with other dogs by taking it to the local dog park or dog club
- Slowly conditioning your pal to being separated from you by leaving it at doggy daycare for short periods a few times a week. This allows it to learn that while it may be by itself for a while, you will always come back for it!
If you’ve tried all of the above and still can’t get your dog to feel safe and calm, the alternative is to bring the boarding service to you in the form of a pet sitter or friendly neighbor!
The majority of dogs become the most nervous when they are stuck in a strange environment, so being able to stay in its own home while you are away will undoubtedly lessen its apprehension and unease.
When your dog has accidentally scraped a bit of the black off its nose– whether by digging around, playing with doggy pals, and being disciplined by a cat- you can rest assured that in the majority of cases, the color will come back.
The graze may be a bit white, grey, or pink for a while (up to a few months, even), but eventually repigmentation will run its course and your best friend’s nose will be its original midnight shade once more.
There are some situations where the nose may not turn black again. This can happen if the gash is particularly deep, or if scarring takes place either due to repeated trauma to the area or a subsequent infection that damages the delicate nasal flesh.
As such, it is important to treat every scrape on your dog’s sniffer seriously even if it appears to be superficial. Make sure that the scratch is cleaned, disinfected, and constantly moisturized to maximize the chances of a rapid recovery.
Give it a couple of months, and your pup’s friendly wet snout is sure to be as good as new!
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.