Raising dogs requires serious carefulness and focusing on every small change in their body since it can be a sign of an underlying disease. Depigmentation in dogs is one of the most common symptoms that could indicate either a simple allergy or even cancer. Finding out the real problem and its treatment in time will prevent the disease from developing into a more severe condition.
In this article, you’ll learn more about dog’s depigmentation or the 3 main reasons dogs lose their pigment around the nose and mouth, the two most commonly affected and easy-to-notice areas. Also, the treatment for each reason varies due to the seriousness level of the symptom and disease.
Let us walk you through.
More likely to humans, the skin color of dogs also depends on melanocyte cells in their skin. Melanin in those cells will determine the color of the skin. Different kinds of dogs come in different shades. However if your dog’s skin suddenly loses its original colors and starts getting depigmentation, this may result from some health issues.
1. Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) is a common skin problem, also known as an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune happens once the immune system attacks normal cells within the body and causes inflammation.
What causes DLE and its symptoms?
The main reasons for DLE are still unknown but it’s believed that genetic, environmental, and hormonal elements play a significant role in the form of lupus.
Dogs with DLE typically show some abnormal signs on the areas of the face, nose, mouth, ear, or around the eyes. You should keep an eye on the following symptoms:
- Discoloration skin on the bridge of the nose
- Skin, nose, lip’s redness
- Itchiness at the affected areas such as nose or face
- Flaky or scaly skin
In general, DLE is diagnosed as a less severe disease. But till now, there is no certain medicine that can 100 percent cure DLE.
The symptoms of DLE often come and go for a couple of months. However, if the situation gets worse, veterinarians might suggest using corticosteroid drugs combined with Vitamin E supplements.
DLE symptoms may get more serious when exposed to sunlight. So dogs with DLE should avoid sun exposure to the minimum. Applying sunscreen is also recommended if your dog(s) has to be housed outdoors. If not, it would be better to walk them in the early morning or late evening to reduce the potential of direct exposure to UV light.
Vitiligo is another abnormal skin condition when the dog’s skin loses its natural color or depigmentation. In some cases, darker coated dogs have their hair also turn white partially or entirely. You also notice white spots on your dog’s nasal planum or the inner lining of the lips.
What causes Vitiligo?
Melanocytes are the cells in charge of producing melanin in the skin. Once the melanocytes are damaged or die off, vitiligo will occur.
It’s still unclear why vitiligo actually happens in some dogs but in most cases, vitiligo in dogs and cats is hereditary. If your dogs’ breed is Rottweilers, Yellow Labrador, German Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs, Siberian Huskies, or Dachshunds, they are at high risk of developing this type of skin disease.
Autoimmune, stress, or exposure to toxins are also believed to cause vitiligo in pets.
Currently, none of the treatments for vitiligo will ensure re-pigment of the affected areas like skin or fur. However, several management options veterinarians can recommend for vitiligo such as increased sun exposure time to enhance the production of new melanocytes.
In case your dog is under stress, try to make a less stressful environment at home or use meditation if needed.
Along with that, adding omega-3 acid and vitamin C to your pet’s diet proves they manage vitiligo pretty well. In fact, vitiligo doesn’t cause any discomfort to your dog and cat, it's just a matter of cosmetics.
3. Other Conditions
As a matter of fact, there are millions of other reasons that could cause pigmentation or discoloration in dogs. In some situations, the reason may come from very small things that you would never imagine.
A plastic bowl is one of them. A lot of dogs reported allergies and suffered losing pigment when eating plastic bowls for a long time. The plastic chemical affects the dog's lip and nose color.
If you notice your dog's bottom lip or top of the nose turn white or have some white spots, there’s a high chance of the reason from their dish.
In this case, the solution is pretty simple. You just need to change the bowl from plastic to something more friendly material such as white ceramic, glass, or stainless steel.
Among them, white ceramic would be a better choice since its price is reasonable and the variety of styles for you to choose from.
Take Good Care of Our Dog
No matter what symptom or condition of your dog relating to depigmentation is, you always need to take them to the vet to get the most accurate result and suitable treatment.
Depigmentation is usually not life-threatening, but just in case it sometimes can be an underlying sign of a severe health problem, it’s better to have your dog get checked every six months or at least once a year.
With the information above, you can recognize 3 main reasons normally leading to dogs’ losing pigment around their nose and mouth including Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE), Vitiligo, and plastic accessories. If you can find your dog's symptoms in one of those, you already know what it is and how to deal with it.
Just a quick reminder: Keep your house a friendly and non-stress environment for your pets, and make sure you pick the right material for your pet bowls such as ceramic dog bowls or stainless steel ones. Cleaning their toys and dishes after meals is essential in keeping them away from getting infections or allergies.