My Mastiff’s nose has become dry and chapped. What
can I use to help with dryness? It doesn’t
seem to bother him.
It is not uncommon for dogs to develop scabbing, crusting, or a change in pigmentation (color) on the nose. The syndrome most frequently occurs in the area where the haired skin of the muzzle meets the hairless skin of the nostrils.
In most cases, the syndrome is triggered by excessive activity of the immune system. I see it most often in German Shepherds, but any breed may be affected. Dogs with the syndrome usually do not show signs of pain. However, severe cases can lead to disfigurement or skin infections.
There are several ways to treat the problem. First, I recommend protecting your dog from stimuli that may trigger hyperactivity of the immune system. Two major factors are known to contribute to this syndrome and are easy to avoid. The first, and most important, is sunlight. Since you live in an area with lots of sun and a high UV index, and since the days are getting longer, I suspect that sun exposure is playing a role in your dog’s predicament. If you keep him inside or in the shade during peak sun hours (10:00 am to 3:00 pm), you may see improvement.
The second immune system trigger is fleas. If your dog isn’t on a good flea preventative, I’d recommend that you start one.
Topical treatments are the next line of defense. Unfortunately, many dogs lick off and swallow anything that is applied to the nose. Because of this, I recommend applying liquid vitamin E to the area twice daily. Vitamin E is sold in gelatin capsules at drug stores. The capsules can be punctured, and the liquid inside can be squeezed out and applied to the nose. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can modulate the activity of the immune system in the affected area. If your dog licks it off, it is completely harmless. In fact, some experts advocate oral, as well as topical administration of vitamin E.
If the problem cannot be controlled with these simple steps, then you may need to use oral or topical steroids related to prednisone. Before you take that step, however, it would be wise to perform tests (such as a biopsy or a simpler procedure known as cytology) to confirm that such a powerful treatment is necessary.