Nasal Solar Dermatitis In Dogs

Nasal solar dermatitis in dogs is a condition when a dog has an abnormal reaction to sunlight on their skin. It typically affects the end of a dog’s nose, the dog’s eyes and areas of the face.

What happens when a dog has this kind of dermatitis is that the outer tip of the dog’s nose will be affected.

nasal solar dermatitis in dogsEven the entire nose along the muzzle can be affected and cause an ulcer.  In severe cases, this can lead to skin cancer.

A dog’s nose will sometimes be inflamed all the way through the skin to the tissue around the eyes. The dog’s eyelids might also be inflamed which could cause conjunctivitis.

This condition is more prevalent during the summertime when a dog is more exposed to the sun.  The dog’s skin around the nose usually peels and bleeds.

If the condition becomes extreme, epidermis is possible and even the cartilage in a dog’s nose might disappear.

Tumors can develop in the more advanced cases. While typically located on a dog’s nose, the damage from the sun can also exist on your dog’s limbs or trunk.

Breeds That Are Most Affected

  • German Shepherds
  • Shetlands
  • Collies
  • Breeds with Long Noses

Symptoms of Nasal Solar Dermatits

  • The nose has ulcers
  • Bleeding
  • Eye Inflammation
  • Pink raw areas around the nose
  • Lesions on the nose
  • Possible conjunctivitis
  • Tumors in extreme cases

Causes

It is not known what the cause of nasal solar dermatitis is yet overexposure to sunlight certainly contributes to it.  It can sometimes be misdiagnosed as many other diseases which affect the dog’s skin around the nose.

Nasal dermatoses or diseases of the skin around the nose is different than this condition.

It is possible that the symptoms are caused by another disease.

Some of the possible diseases are the following:

  • Discoid Lupus
  • Pyoderma
  • Dermatophytosis
  • Demodicosis
  • Cutaneous lymphoma
  • Lupus or pemphigus

In these four diseases: systemic and discoid lupus, cutaneous lymphoma and pemphigus, the dog can lose the pigment around the nose, be ulcerated and/or very red.

In these three diseases:  dermatophytosis, demodicosis, and pemphigus, the dog’s muzzle will lose his hair.

If the diagnosis is pemphigus or systemic lupus erythematosus, the entire muscle is usually affected with ulcers and crusting.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will complete a full physical exam and find out from you when the symptoms were first noticed.  The goal is to determine whether this is a real cause of the disease.

Usually, a vet will do the following:

  • Take scrapings of the skin
  • Get fungal cultures or bacterial cultures.
  • Perform immunology tests and biopsies histopathology

Treatment

There are various treatments which can help such as the following:

1. Corticosteroids

If nasal solar dermatitis is diagnosed, your vet might prescribe corticosteroid treatment.

This can come in the topical form in a corticosteroid lotion which aids in reducing the inflammation.

Corticosteroids are also taken orally and can help reduce inflammation.  This method is also preferable if you dog has lesions in the mouth.

Antibiotics will be prescribed if your vet thinks your dog has a secondary infection.

2. Restricting your dog’s exposure to sunlight

Most dogs with nasal solar dermatitis are asked to be kept out of the sun.

While this can be hard to do, sunscreen can also help when your dog has to go outside. Make sure to apply a couple times each day.

Your vet can give you a recommendation of the best sunscreen that is specifically for dogs and not people.

Beta-carotene is sometimes recommended to help with the sun damage on your dog’s skin.

3. Retinoids

Retinoids, usually in the form of Vitamin A, can be taken orally and can help with the sun damage.

Side effects can occur so if this is the course of treatment, your vet will want you to come in for multiple visits to see how your dog is reacting.

4. Long-Term Treatment

The long-term management and treatment will be based on how your dog is reacting to the treatment given and the lack of sun exposure.

Tattooing, using black ink in the areas where the skin is exposed, can be an effective course of long-term treatment.  This procedure can only work if the inflammation has diminished.  Touching up the tattooed area is necessary over the long term and the ink protects against the sun.

Tattooing is the most effective in mild cases when symptoms first appear.

Follow- Up and Recovery

There will be many follow up appointments with your vet to determine if the medication or treatment is working.

The most important thing to remember for your dog’s recovery is to minimize your dog’s sun exposure. Try to keep your dog inside when the sun is brightest and usually between 9 am and 4 pm.

There will be on-going management depending on the severity of the symptoms.

If you have a dog that is long-nosed breed, particularly German Shepherds and Collies, that are known to pre-disposed to this condition, you might consider pet insurance.

Having pet insurance will help with not only the treatment but the on-going vet visits to help minimize your costs.  And the on-going prescription medication.

If you would like to learn more about pet insurance, take a look at our guide on not only why you should insure your pet, but the top 10 best companies of 2018 you may want to consider.

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