Animal Care Clinic Tips

Jul 11, 2012 4:13 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP

Is your dog's nose peeling? It might not just be a sunburn

Q: Living near the coast, Wilbur has been having trouble with the tip of his nose peeling from being sun burnt. What product should I use on him? I have been putting sunblock on but he is always licking it off. Any better ideas?

A: Dear Frances, I am sorry to hear that Wilbur is having trouble with the sun. The description you have provided makes me concerned that he is dealing with a disease called Discoid Lupus Erythematosis (DLE). This is a focal, sun induced skin problem that can be mild or can result in severe erosions of the nose. My own dog has this disease and is well controlled with some simple medications. I would strongly suggest having Wilbur evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible as we do not want to see the condition progress.

It is unusual to see sun induced lesions other than DLE just on the nose. The more common problems we see are erosions and early cancerous lesions on the tummies and inner thighs of "sun worshipping" white dogs like Bulldogs and Dalmatians. Sun block almost never helps as dogs (like Wilbur) just lick it off. Some clients will try tatooing, but the most successful way to prevent sun induced skin disease is to avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm.

We can protect the body with t-shirts, but dogs and cats with white faces/ears simply need to stay in the shade during the day if at all possible. I know this can be very difficult, but sun induced skin cancer can be fatal for pets, so do the best you can. I hope this helps!

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