Does Your Dog Have A Dry Crusty, Cracked Nose? It Could Be Hyperkeratosis

Key Takeaway: The skin on dog noses contains a protein called Keratin; if it grows too quickly it will cause dryness and discomfort. It can be caused by genetics, canine distemper (a relative of measles), zinc-deficiency, Leishmaniasis, and Pemphigus Foliaceus. Once it develops, Hyperkeratosis is a life-long condition to be managed by frequent application of moisturizer.


Is your dog's nose dry, cracked, or crusty? If so, it could be a skin condition called dog nose hyperkeratosis.

We will explain how to identify this condition, the common causes, and explore the best natural treatment options.


The skin on the surface of your dog's nose contains a protein called Keratin; sometimes, Keratin can grow too quickly, causing your pup's nose to become dry and crusty.

If left untreated, it can cause significant discomfort for your dog.

In the more severe cases, sores and a sizeable crusty growth will appear on your dog's nose.

So, now that you know what it is, how do you spot it?


All dogs can suffer from nasal Hyperkeratosis at some point in their lives. When trying to identify it, look out for cracked or dry, rough skin.

Severe cases may turn into a horny cracked growth; this growth will be hard to the touch and can stick out as much as half an inch from your dog's nose.

If you think you have identified Hyperkeratosis on your dog's nose, you will want to know the underlying cause, as sometimes it can be a symptom of a more serious health condition.

You should also note that this condition can also occur on your dogs feet, its called dog paw hyperkeratosis or hard pad disease.


There are several possible causes for dog nose hyperkeratosis, and in some cases, if you address the problem, you can stop the disease from returning.

  • Genetic: Sometimes dog nose hyperkeratosis is genetic; this is often the case in Labrador Retrievers and “smush-nose” or brachycephalic breeds like Pugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Griffons, and Bulldogs.

    If you notice the symptoms when your dog is young, it is often a telltale sign that the disease was inherited.

    If it is genetic, then there is nothing you can do to stop it from developing, and the best course of action is to make your dog as comfortable as possible.
  • Canine distemper is a relative of the measles, and it can have devastating consequences, including death. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease; the best way to avoid it is to vaccinate your dog at a young age.
  • Zinc-deficiency: Young, growing dogs and breeds like Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Bull Terriers can have problems absorbing zinc. Other signs like redness and hair loss elsewhere on the body usually occur at the same time. The good news is that zinc deficiency can usually be treated by simply supplementing your dog's diet.
  • Pemphigus Foliaceus can occur in both dogs and cats; it is a condition where the animal's immune system attacks its self, particularly in the upper layers of the skin, which can appear as blisters that are easily damaged.

    Your vet can conduct a biopsy to diagnose this condition, and they will treat it with immune suppressants.
  • Leishmaniasis is a type of parasite that is carried by sandflies. Fortunately, it is extremely rare in the United States. On the off chance this disease is causing your dog’s nasal hyperkeratosis, treatment will solve both problems.
  • Idiopathic: Sometimes, we aren’t sure exactly why dogs develop nasal Hyperkeratosis. This is perhaps the most common cause. In these cases, the condition will need to be managed rather than cured.

Often, there is nothing you can do to stop your dog from getting this condition, but there are some effective treatments for it.


Sometimes, moisturizing the dry skin can be an effective treatment for dog nose hyperkeratosis, and we prefer to use a natural moisturizer, like our shea-butter based cbd balm for dogs skin. Keep in mind, once this condition develops, it doesn't tend to go away, meaning you will have to treat it for life.

It’s important to talk with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have nasal hyperkeratosis. He or she can rule out underlying diseases and provide management recommendations.

If your dog tolerates it, you can gently dab your dog’s nose with a warm, wet washcloth to help soothe the skin.

Make sure you apply a moisturizer or balm to your dog’s nose at least once a week. Do not apply alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other product that may cause stinging and irritation.

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