Know the Nose…of Your Pet
August 25, 2011
A gentle nudge … an inquisitive sniff --- your dog or cat's nose
can be used to communicate as well as inquire. But what other
telltale signs can your pet's nose convey?
"Some cat caregivers worry about black spots on the nose of
their cat," notes Dr. Adam Patterson, clinical assistant professor
at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
"The concern is if these black spots are cancerous, but in
reality the spots are a normal finding in young orange cats,"
explains Patterson. "These black spots can appear on your
cat's nose as well as lips, eye margins, gums and mouth."
"Usually orange tabbies are more prone to these black spots
which is a condition known as lentigo simplex," notes
Patterson. "These spots are somewhat comparable to freckles
in humans and are not itchy or painful."
"However, there should be concern if you find raised or inflamed
spots that cause soreness and pain," says Patterson. "Always
have these types of spots examined by your veterinarian."
Dogs can lose pigment on their nose, explains Patterson.
This is not much of a concern as long as the surface of the nose
retains its cobblestone appearance. If the nose begins to
crack, scab or smooth over, then veterinary assistance should be
sought. Nutritional disorders, autoimmune diseases and cancer
cause these types of signs and often warrant a biopsy of the nose
to make a diagnosis.
"Cats and dogs are prone to sunburn and subsequent skin cancer
on noses, ears and around the eyes," notes Patterson.
"Fair-skinned animals with light-colored hair coats are at the most
risk. Limiting sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during
the summertime here in Texas can reduce the risk for solar
Your pet's runny nose may indicate other medical conditions are
lingering, states Patterson. Respiratory infections may
manifest themselves as nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing and
difficult breathing. Foreign bodies or tumors in the nasal
passages may cause these same signs. If your pet exhibits any
of these health problems, it should be seen by your veterinarian as
soon as possible.
"Remember that wet or dry noses are not a sign of illness per
se," explains Patterson. "Whether your pet's nose is dry or
wet is largely related to the temperature and humidity in their
environment. Lethargy, little or no appetite, weight loss,
vomiting, diarrhea and inappropriate urination are some signs that
better reflect illness."
So … know the nose of your pet … it can be a messenger as to the
health of your cat or dog in addition to a wet and warm
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