Why does my Maltese have a Pink Nose?

Pink Nose on a Maltese

Maltese usually have black noses which contrast against their white fur but sometimes a pink nose can develop. A pink nose on a Maltese dog is due to a pigmentation loss in the skin on its nose and is usually not a problem. There are a few reasons why a Maltese puppies nose can turn pink and if you are worried you should check with your vet the next time you are in for a checkup.

I have listed the most common reasons on why a Maltese dog can have a pink nose below. Usually the loss of color on a dogs nose is not a concern but in some rare cases it can require a medical checkup with your veterinarian.

Reason 1: The weather can cause a pink nose on a Maltese.

Cold weather has been known to turn a dogs nose pink when they have light colored fur, such as the Maltese dog’s white coat. This is a well documented occurrence and always happens in the winter and is sometimes referred to as “snow nose” or “winter nose”. Interestingly the condition usually only affects dogs which have light colored fur. During the winter the loss of pigment in the nose us due to a breakdown of the enzyme tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is an enzyme which has been found to be temperature sensitive and is responsible in a Maltese dog for producing melanin. Melanin is a skin pigment which gives color to the hair, skin and eyes. A reduction in the melanin pigment changes the color of the Maltese dog’s nose. The good thing is that this is not permanent and as soon as the weather warms up the Melanin production will increase and the Maltese dogs nose will return to its former black shade. If it is winter, you can expose your dog to more sunlight and try and keep them warm. This can boost Melanin production and keep your Maltese puppy’s nose black. An alternative is to turn to supplements which are available to ensure that the tyrosinase enzyme is at adequate levels.

Reason 2: Your Maltese is getting older

As a Maltese dog gets older the enzyme tyrosinase is produced less and this means there will be less Melanin. Just as colder weather can restrict tyrosinase production, age will slow it down to a point where your dogs coat will be less shiny and its nose will turn a shade of pink. Extra sunlight and using supplements can help replace missing Melanin and the tyrosinase as it slows down with age. Your veterinarian can give you advice on the best foods and supplements which will help replace the lower level of enzymes.

Reason 3: Trauma and Injury to your Maltese Nose

If your Maltese scratches its nose against something and removes a layer of skin it is likely a pink area will show. The black pigmentation is only surface deep and a scratch or abrasion which cuts into the nose will expose the soft pink flesh of the nose. If it is a small scratch then there is no need to worry and just can an eye on it to ensure it does not get infected. If the scratch is very deep or it looks like it might be infected then you should get your Maltese’s nose check out at the vet. Providing there are no complications the pink area of the nose will heal itself and the black pigment will return to the affected area of a few days or weeks.

A black nose Maltese

Reason 4: Infections can cause pink noses

If the pinkness of your Maltese dogs nose is also accompanied by inflammation, a crusty appearance or just looks weird and unwell in appearance then there could be an infection. The best advice for a nose that does not look right, in that it looks like its infected, is to take your Maltese puppy to the vet to get its nose examined. A vet will be able to properly diagnose the situation and make the best recommendation to fix the problem. They may prescribe medication or creams to use on your Maltese puppy’s nose to fix the infection. Usually once the infection clears up the Maltese puppy’s nose will return to a black color.

Reason 5: Allergic reactions

If your Maltese has an allergic reaction to something its stuck its nose into or against then the Maltese’s nose will become inflamed, itchy and may become lighter in color. usually this will not progress to a pink nose but it will turn a lighter grey. The allergic reaction could be to something in the garden such as a flower or weed. More commonly a reaction to a chemical in plastic is the cause and this is why a stainless steel bowl should be used for feeding and drinking bowls. If your dogs nose does look like it is inflamed or lighter in color try switching to a stainless steel bowl and see if that helps.

Reason 6: Stress can cause nose changes

Stress happens even in a Maltese’s life even though you would think they do not have that much to stress about. They could have anxiety issues and separation issues which cause them to stress about life. Stress can affect both humans and dogs in a variety of ways and one of those is by reducing the tyrosinase production. With reduced tyrosinase, there is a reduction in the melanin pigment causing the nose to turn pink. In order to reduce stress you should ensure your Maltese is well fed, has a safe place for it to rest and sleep and is exercised each day. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress in a Maltese dog.

Reason 7: Thyroid changes can affect the Maltese dog nose color

Thyroid changes can affect your Maltese nose and may cause it to change color. Maltese are known to be susceptible to a thyroid condition called hypothyroidism. This is there the Maltese’s thyroid does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone. The usual symptoms of this health condition are dry skin, dry coat, hair loss, weight gain, aggression and behavioral changes. With the skin affected there is a chance that the Maltese nose will be affected and it may change to a lighter grey, brown or pink.

Reason 8: Plastic Bowls can turn a Maltese nose to pink

This one is related to the allergic reactions in Maltese but it has been signaled out specifically as a stand alone reason. Plastic bowls have been identified as the cause of changes in a Maltese’s nose. It is recommended that you use a stainless steel bowl for both the feeding bow and any drinking bowls. An alternative to stainless steel bowls is to use a ceramic bowl. Regardless of whether you think this is the cause it is always better to not use a plastic bowl. Think about it this way, if its affecting the color of a dogs nose then what else could it be doing to your dogs health. Stick with a stainless steel or ceramic bowl.

Reason 9: Sun burnt Maltese Nose

Severe sunburn can turn a Maltese dog’s nose into an inflamed, raw pink color. Sunburn can occur if your Maltese puppy has no shade during the day. If this occurs day after day the consistent exposure to the sun can burn your dogs nose. As it becomes more pink the nose will be more susceptible to further sunburn and can become raw and inflamed. The best solution to this is to provide shade and water for your Maltese if they are outside all day. That way they can move out of the sun and into the shade when they have had too much sun exposure. Another option is to apply a specially designed dog sunscreen. These sunscreens will protect the sensitive parts of your dog and are generally safe to use even on the nose. Read the instructions closely before applying. Do not use sunscreen designed for humans as these can be dangerous to ingest or use on a dogs nose.

Reason 10: Your Maltese was born with a non-black nose

Genetics will usually play in favor a black nose on a Maltese but there can be variations and a Maltese may just naturally have a pink nose. This will be a rare situation and would not be seen on many dogs due to black points being a big consideration for show quality Maltese. If your Maltese naturally has a pink nose from birth then the nose needs to be protected from sun exposure.

Reason 11: An immune disease called Vitiligo

The immune disease called vitiligo can turn a Maltese dog’s nose pink but this is very rare in the Maltese breed. It is more likely to happen in Dobermans, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. With this disease the immune system attacks the pigmentation in the skin. This would require a veterinarian diagnosis and it is so rare that it is unlikely the cause of a pink nose on a Maltese in most cases.

Maltese in Snow but no Snow Nose

What is a Maltese Snow Nose?

A snow nose is a term referring to a condition which affects dogs with a lighter colored coat. The condition refers to a reduction in Melanin pigment in the nose which causes the nose to change to a lighter color and the nose may be brown, light grey or pink. There will be no other change in your dogs health condition which accompany the nose color changes so it is usually nothing to worry about. If you are concerned seek out a veterinarian advice. The reason it is called a snow nose is because it is much more likely to occur in winter and in colder climates. This is because the cold can affect the levels of tyrosinase which affects the production of Melanin and as has been stated, low levels of Melanin means a change in the pigment in your dogs Nose and hence a color change. If you are concerned there are some foods and supplements which can be given to your Maltese in order to keep the level of tyrosinase in your Maltese which continues to make Melanin pigment. Alternatively, if your Maltese dog has snow nose then you can just wait for the weather to warm up in Spring and Summer and the Maltese pink nose will change back to a black nose.

How do you treat Maltese pink noses?

Depending on the cause of the pink nose there are a few options for treatment. This may include

  • medication and creams for infections and abrasions or other health conditions such as thyroid problems.
  • Changing any plastic bowls to stainless steel or ceramic bowls.
  • Providing shade for protection for sun exposure
  • Changing the diet to include foods which will help with tyrosinase levels.
  • Adding supplements and creams to aid in tyrosinase levels.
  • Providing special dog sunscreen to protect your Maltese’s nose from sunburn.

If your dog does have a pink nose due to any of the above conditions you should look to protect their nose with a dog sunscreen to avoid any further complications from sunburn. A pink nose on a Maltese puppy does not have enough Melanin to protect it from burning under the suns UV rays.

You can Tattoo your Maltese Nose Black!

This is not recommended but some veterinarian and owners will discuss this option. It is usually suggested where your Maltese lives outside full time in direct sunlight. The tattoo will help protect it from the sun exposure. This is an extreme step and will be done as an operation under anesthesia. While it is an option it should not be taken lightly.

Keep an Eye on your Maltese Nose

A good owner will check over their dog every so often to ensure that their eyes, ears, mouth and nose and feet are all looking as expected. Inspecting the nose for any cracks, abrasions and the color will help identify any symptoms of nose related issues. Inspecting it regularly will allow you to know what is normal and what is unusual. If you notice anything like discharge, cracks, mucus or loss of pigmentation you should consult your local veterinarian in order to get a proper diagnosis.

So what did you think of the article?

If your Maltese puppy’s nose is turning pink or has turned pink recently but you think they are still healthy and there are no other symptoms of any issues then more than likely there is nothing to worry about. Its likely a short term change and is temporary. However, if you are worried or you see other concerning signs like inflammation, pus or a change in your Maltese puppy then you should see out veterinarian advice on the best course of action. hopefully this article has helped with any concerns you had about why your Maltese has a pink nose and has provided enough guidance so you know what the next steps are that you can take. Has your dog had a pink nose? Did you find any other reasons it turned pink? If so let us know in the comments as we would love to hear about your Maltese puppy’s nose.


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