A dog’s nose has many purposes.
It helps dogs discover the world around them. It can even detect diseases in humans and other pets.
Some say that when a dog’s nose is wet that means the dog is healthy.
But what does it mean when a dog scratches their nose?
Considering how sensitive dogs’ noses are, it can get worrying. What if they scratch their nose too hard, and it bleeds?
In this article you’ll know:
- 9 reasons why your dog scratches their nose.
- How to differentiate an anxious dog from a compulsive dog.
- 3 tips on how to respond to a dog’s nose-scratching behavior.
- Whether parasites have anything to do with your dog’s actions.
- And many more…
Why do dogs scratch their nose?
Your dog scratches their nose because it might be itchy and something’s on their face. Concerning reasons are parasitic bites, sunburn, eye infections, sinusitis, and allergies. Nose-scratching can also be a sign of contentment from food or anxiety.
9 odd reasons why dogs scratch their nose
#1: It’s just itchy
Itching is not new to us.
We relieve itchiness by scratching the red and inflamed area.
We’re almost too sure that after a few minutes, the itch will be gone.
But it’s important to address the cause. Which could be dry skin. Luckily, this is easy to resolve. All you need is the right moisturizer.
However, scratching’s an impulse. That’s what makes it more satisfying. So, we ease the itchy part that gives us mild discomfort using our fingernails.
Looking at it from this perspective may help you understand your dog’s actions.
Harmless itchiness could be the cause of your dog’s nose scratching behavior.
Your pooch only wants to aid the irritation.
That’ll be the case if the behavior’s not persistent.
If your dog constantly scratches their nose at frequent intervals, it’s not just a simple itch.
Other concerning reasons should be noted. Stay tuned and find out about these causes further in the article…
#2: After-meal ritual
After a great meal, we tend to fix ourselves to become neat again. For example, we wipe our mouth with a napkin and finish off by drinking water.
For a dog, nose scratching after eating is a way of tidying themselves after they eat.
They might be trying to remove leftover crumbs on their muzzle. Or some of these crumbs made their way near their eyes.
If there are none of those leftovers, your fur baby might still scratch their nose.
It’s almost a ritual for dogs to do this behavior. They scratch their nose after a meal as a sign of contentment and relief.
Further appreciation can be shown through rolling around in their food.
These simple behaviors are the “thanks” that you can get from your satisfied pooch!
Remember the last time you got bitten by an ant? Can you recall the feeling of that red bitten area asking for a scratch?
It’s a little similar to what your dog experiences if they get bit by fleas or ticks.
But this can be worse for them most of the time.
For a tick, biting’s just the beginning. Next, a tick will burrow and stay on your dog’s skin.
They feast on your dog’s blood until they’re full.
A tick’s bite is very irritating for your dog. So your poor fur baby is scratching their nose to help relieve the pain.
Your dog could also be hoping to remove the tick from them by flicking it away.
Poor Fido must’ve gotten fleas and ticks from other dogs they met at the park.
Other ways to acquire these are rolling around infested areas like grass and shrubs.
Those bloodsuckers wait around for your dog to pass by these areas.
Did you know that ticks can survive even 1 year without feeding?
Plus, it’s very easy for fleas and ticks to multiply.
Fleas can produce eggs after 2 days of adulthood. These eggs can become adult fleas as early as 2 weeks.
Signs of fleas and ticks on your dog:
- Scratching their body.
- Licking and biting themselves.
- Scabs and red spots on their skin.
- White droppings on their fur that are flea eggs.
- Visible ticks attached. If your pooch has long hair, you can feel the ticks like bumps.
- Presence of “flea droppings” on their fur, which are dark specks that fleas leave behind.
You can also spot fleas and ticks in your home.
Fleas are visible as they hop around your couch and beddings.
For ticks, they can lay eggs on the corners of the wall or even around velcros – on your couch, pillows, and bed.
These are the risks of fleas and ticks infestation:
- Ehrlichiosis from an infected brown tick.
- You might get bitten, too. There are numerous diseases you can get, depending on your area. Most common is Rocky Mountain spotted fever which is found in Central and South America.
- Skin allergy from the parasite’s saliva. When biting, fleas and ticks inject their saliva in your dog’s skin.
- Anemia can occur if fleas and ticks outnumber your dog. It may happen if your dog starts losing too much blood.
#4: Something’s on their face
Dogs do not have fingers to properly remove dirt and debris off their face…
But they still try…
So your dog must be scratching their nose because they want to get rid of something on their face.
It can be a little leaf that the air brought to their face. Or a tiny piece of fabric from that poor stuffed toy that they disfigured.
If that debris starts to really irritate them, nose scratching will not be enough.
The annoyed canine of yours will begin to scratch their face on different surfaces.
During a sunny outdoor activity with your dog, their nose is the most exposed to the sun.
You may not notice it but your dog can have sunburn.
Yes, your furry friend can have sunburn, too.
So say you took your dog for a quick after-lunch walk…
Later through the day, you notice your dog starts to scratch their nose repeatedly…
You check to see what’s wrong. You find that their skin is warm, red, and flaky.
Yep, that’s a sunburn…
“So what should I do? Put sunscreen on them?”
Exactly. Just like humans, dogs need sunscreen, too.
A good 15-20 minutes before going out, you should apply sunscreen to your dog’s head. Remember not to put any near their eyes and mouth.
As you wait for the sunscreen to be absorbed, watch your dog closely, so they don’t lick it off.
After that, you can finally take them for a walk.
Enjoy your time under the sun! Here’s a fur-parent-recommended sunscreen for your doggo.
#6: Eye infections
So your dog is constantly scratching their nose…
But you see nothing wrong with it…
It could be that you’re looking at the wrong body part.
“Huh?! How come?”
Eye infections could be the culprit for such behaviors.
Nose scratching is your dog’s response to discomfort due to inflammation.
Most likely, your dog’s trying to reach their eye, too. Pawing of their eye is one symptom of an eye infection.
An example of eye infection in dogs is conjunctivitis or pink eye. This infection exhibits cloudy eyes and greenish or yellowish discharge.
Here are the possible causes of eye infections:
- Abrasion in the cornea.
- Irritants, such as soap, shampoo, and smoke.
Signs of eye infection are:
- Holding eye closed.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Redness and swelling.
- Unusual discharge, i. e. watery or thick.
Further reading: Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Eyes? 9 Real Reasons + 3 Tips
#7: Inflamed sinus
Relentless snout scratches can indicate an inflamed sinus in your dog.
Sinusitis is the term for this condition. This occurs when there’s swelling in the nasal cavity.
Inflammation of the nasal cavity causes fluid blockage.
That’s why with sinusitis, your dog might have difficulty breathing.
They are also disturbed by the heavy feeling present in their nose. This is due to the fluid buildup happening in their sinus.
So, until the inflammation subsides, it will be hard for your dog to breathe normally.
Common causes of sinusitis are:
- Tooth root abscess.
- Foreign objects inside the nose.
- Abnormal tissue growth, or neoplasia.
Identify sinusitis by familiarizing yourself with the symptoms. These are:
- Loss of appetite.
- Struggling to breathe properly.
- An unusual amount of nasal discharge.
- Reverse sneezing, caused by gasping of air. Your dog attempts to pull the discharge back to their throat.
#8: Inhalant allergy
Picture a beautiful walk with your dog during the start of summer…
You enjoy its warmth and brightness while your dog wanders around sniffing flowers…
However, once you get home, you notice that Fido keeps scratching their nose.
You shrug off the behavior at the start, but it’s getting more frequent after a while.
Poor Fido also seems very agitated while doing the behavior…
With that, inhalant allergy (a.k.a atopy) can be the root of the nose-scratching habit.
A 2018 study says that allergies affect about 10% to 20% of dogs and cats worldwide.
A small percentage, you might think, but these are only detected and diagnosed cases. Therefore it is still a growing concern.
Inhalant allergy manifests from inhaled airborne allergens.
These allergens are:
- House dust mites.
- Pollens from trees, grass, and weed (ragweed).
Sad to say, your dog can be allergic to what summer brings.
So they wandered around and smelled the newly sprouted flowers…
And, oh no!
Allergens entered their nose.
And as Fido ran around the shrubs, they shook away its pollen into the air and inhaled it.
Here are a few more signs of an inhalant allergy:
- Itching of the skin, in one affected area (nose) or whole body.
#9: Anxiety turned into a compulsive behavior
Let’s go back to school for a moment.
Have you ever bitten your nails while the teacher handed out yesterday’s quiz results?
Or, let’s take another example.
Surely you’ve watched a movie scene where the character paces back and forth in the hospital. This shows that the character is nervous about someone’s or their own medical well-being.
These behaviors are born out of anxiety. They are done as a response to an upsetting situation or environment.
It is an attempt to divert the nervousness or fear into another unrelated action.
Well, dogs are prone to experience and develop these coping behaviors, too.
In this case, for your dog, it’s nose scratching.
Your fur baby scratches their nose to show that they’re trying to manage their anxiety.
There are other ways that your dog might be managing their anxiety. They are:
- Staring into space.
- Acral lick dermatitis, which is self-induced. Soreness and hair loss could be observed after persistent licking by your dog.
And as your dog gets used to doing this, it might turn into compulsive behavior.
Compulsive behaviors are uncontrollable thoughts or actions. This makes the person feel that they “have” to do this or think about it.
So at that point, it will be hard for your dog to manage the occurrence of this action.
Because your dog feels that they “should” perform the behavior. It’s hard to control, and it takes a lot of effort to stop it.
“How will I know it’s a compulsive behavior?”
Observe your dog’s nose-scratching practice.
It can be a canine compulsive disorder (CCD) if it happens too frequently and without reason at all.
This disorder should not be overlooked. It can cause everyday disruption in your dog’s life functions.
3 tips on what to do when your dog has an itchy nose
#1: Assess and treat
The first step into identifying the correct response is to identify the right cause.
Assess your dog and see if they have any symptoms of the mentioned reasons.
We’ll go into detail about the proper response and treatments for a:
There are many ways to get rid of fleas and ticks on your dog.
The proper treatment will depend on the veterinarian’s advice.
Your dog’s vet can prescribe flea medications. These are also the most effective ways to rid of parasites.
Nonprescription medications are anti-flea and anti-tick shampoos, powders, or drops.
Bring your pooch to the clinic to get them diagnosed with the proper infection.
By doing so, they will be treated with the right antibacterial medications.
To help prevent infections, here are the things that you can do:
- Regularly clean your dog’s face.
- Trim the hair that surrounds their eyes.
- Avoid trauma to their eyes. For example, close the window while you drive. It’s to prevent dust and other things from flying to your dog’s face.
Get your dog examined by a veterinarian.
Here are the following examinations that the vet will perform:
- Blood work.
All of these are necessary to know the cause of sinusitis.
These exams will also help in identifying the proper treatment for your dog.
Allergic reactions are recurring. It’s because the inhalant allergens are environmental.
There is also no final cure to this. So, the best treatment lies in managing them.
Bring your dog to the veterinarian. They will advise the best treatment for your dog’s allergies.
- Prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs (antihistamines).
- Frequent bathing of your dog using a hypoallergenic shampoo. This shampoo aims to soothe inflamed and itchy skin.
- Weekly administration of antigen injections.
It’s best to apply aloe vera in the affected area.
If it’s a severe burn, check in with your dog’s veterinarian. They might suggest cortisone treatment.
Infections that arise will need antibiotic treatment. Only your dog’s vet can prescribe this treatment.
#2: Clean regularly
It can be a parasite infestation. Or it could be an inhalant allergy.
Either way, it may be time to do a little general cleaning.
Treatments and medications can be useless if you don’t treat the surroundings as well.
Your dog might have a flea and tick collar now. Or they’re taking anti-flea medications.
While little do you know, the bloodsuckers made a little place in one of your drawers.
For their allergies, Fido might be under remedies…
But they still lie and roll around the dusty carpet from time to time.
In one of your off-days, do the following:
- Vacuum the couch.
- Change your curtains.
- Wash and vacuum the carpet.
- Change the bathroom rugs and wash the old ones.
- Clean the corners of your shelves, drawers, and counters.
- Buy and set up a humidifier. This can help with the room’s humidity. It can help loosen your dog’s nasal mucus.
#3: Correct their behavior
As mentioned, such repetitive action could be a compulsive behavior.
Without treatment, this can get worse and disrupt both of your lives.
Because compulsive behaviors can soon turn into destructive behaviors…
But, you cannot correct this by yourself.
Your dog needs a professional that can properly intervene with these occurrences.
With that, consult a professional behaviorist.
They can best assess the kind of compulsive behavior your dog has.
It’s due to compulsive behaviors being different from one dog to another.
The behaviorist will teach you how to handle such actions correctly.
Be aware that your surroundings can contribute to this matter, too.
Therefore, slight alterations around your house might be needed.
To be sure, ask your dog’s behaviorist if there are any. As well as how you can change them.