Nose Cracking in Dogs

Why is my dog nose cracking?

What is Nose Cracking?

Cracked noses in dogs can be caused by various reasons, most of which are treatable. Whether your dog is getting too close to the heater in the winter months or he's experiencing some allergies, cracked noses are cause for concern due to the discomfort. It is recommended that if your dog has a cracked nose, monitor him for any other signs that show he may be in pain. Your veterinarian is likely to have a definitive answer regarding your dog's cracked nose and should be consulted. Cracked nose in dogs may be caused by: 

  • Sunburn
  • Pollen allergies
  • Infection

Why Nose Cracking Occurs in Dogs


Sunburn in dogs can cause cracked noses due to being overexposed to the sun. Dogs are sensitive to the UV rays of the sun, especially dogs with short or thin fur. Inflammation and flaking is often seen as a result of sunburn. Sunburn can lead to pain and long-term health damage. Sunburn is a preventable condition in dogs that requires human intervention. Symptoms of sunburn can be noticed within the hour after sun exposure. Common symptoms of extreme sunburn are: 

  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Blisters
  • Whining due to pain

Pollen Allergies

Cracked noses can also be caused by pollen allergies in dogs. Pollen allergies are considered inhalant allergies. Your dog's immune system is exposed when pollen is seen as a threat to his body. Allergy symptoms can manifest in the spring but can also be noticed in the summer and fall. Pollen allergies can originate from trees, weeds, and plants in general. Symptoms of pollen allergies are as follows:

  • Rubbing face
  • Ear inflammation
  • Hot spots
  • Chewing of paws
  • Cracked noses


Infection can accompany skin conditions like dermatitis or cause a dry nose when they are related to conditions such as ringworm. Bacterial infections can cause pyoderma, leading to a cracked nose. Other signs of dryness and irritation may be:

  • Flaking skin
  • Redness
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Cracked noses in dogs can cause extreme discomfort and pain for your pet. It is important to be able to determine which signs your dog is experiencing and inform your veterinarian. Sunburn is caused by overexposure to UV light from the sun. The severity of sunburn depends on your dog's pigmentation, ability to produce melanin, and the levels of UV light he was exposed to. Cases of sunburn can later lead to skin cancer, which is a serious medical condition that must be immediately treated. Common skin cancers in dogs include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. 

Pollen allergies are a result of your dog's immune system fighting against a foreign agent. Your dog's immune system defines a foreign agent as harmful and begins to send antibodies to flush it out of the system. Infection can invade the body and produce numerous signs, including skin irritation like a cracked, sore nose.

What to do if your Dog is Nose Cracking

If your dog has a cracked nose, it is important to have him checked out by your veterinarian to rule out any serious medical conditions. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your dog's body and ask you questions regarding his medical history. For sunburn, you will be asked relevant questions regarding how long your dog was in the sun, how often is your dog in the sun, and skin pigmentation. If your dog experiences severe sunburn, intravenous fluids may be introduced to your dog's body to prevent dehydration. Your veterinarian may also prescribe topical antibacterial and antifungal ointments. 

For pollen allergies or infection, your veterinarian will ask you questions regarding your dog's timing with his symptoms. Your veterinarian will ask you about changes in diet or activity level in order to rule out other conditions. A skin scraping may be completed to rule out parasites or to determine the type of infection. If your dog is experiencing cracked nose as a result of pollen allergies, he may be prescribed antihistamines to reduce symptoms. Your dog may also be prescribed a medicated shampoo to help reduce itchiness and irritation to his skin. Other treatment options include corticosteroid injections.

Prevention of Nose Cracking

Cracked noses in dogs can be cause for discomfort and pain. Prevention of cracked noses in dogs is possible in regards to sunburn. Be proactive in maintaining your dog's health in the heat by applying SPF 30 sunscreen to your dog's nose. Ensure there is enough shade for your dog to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Placing a shirt or a hat over your dog can help to reduce the sun damage to your dog as well. 

Cracked noses caused by allergies can be avoided by wiping down your dog once he is indoors. Prevent further airborne particles from entering your home by removing your own shoes once you enter your home. You can also run an air filter in the home and bathe your dog with a cleanser to prevent allergies from affecting your dog's health. 

Infection or skin conditions that can lead to a cracked nose cannot always be avoided but it is recommended that you consult your vet when your pet is showing signs of abnormalities of the skin. Early diagnosis and treatment will ensure a positive prognosis.

Cost of Nose Cracking

Cracked noses in dogs can become expensive depending on the severity of your dog's condition. Cracked noses due to sunburn can range anywhere from $200 to $800. The average cost of treatment for sunburn is $400. When the cracked noses in dogs are due to pollen allergies, it can drastically vary depending on your location. For instance, pollen allergy treatment can range anywhere from $200 to $2000. Veterinary care for infection will depend on the type and severity at time of diagnosis.

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Nose Cracking Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Cocker Spaniel




6 Years


6 found this helpful


6 found this helpful

My dog has had a cracked nose for ten month he has no blood discharge and has no trouble breathing. He is in good health and shows no sign of ill health could it be allergys because he does scratch his ears a lot too

Oct. 31, 2017

6 Recommendations

There are a few reasons for a cracked nose, but the most common one is dogs which keep licking their nose and the saliva dries out the nose and overtime it may crack; other causes may be allergies, sunlight or infections. It is important to clean the area regularly but topical ointments usually get licked off as soon they are applied; if the cracked nose doesn’t seem to be causing any distress to him I would wait until you visit your Veterinarian again for his check up and have them take a look at it. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 31, 2017

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