A cut on a dog's nose is not surprising considering how dogs have a persistent tendency to poke their noses in all places, including areas they shouldn't have access.
Therefore, nose injuries in dogs are pretty standard. Some more minor scrapes are transient, but deeper cuts require proper attention. And as a responsible pet parent, you need to know how to heal a cut on your dog's nose.
In this article, we will discuss the following:
- What is a dog' basic nose anatomy?
- Why are nose injuries (cuts and scrapes) so common in dogs?
- How are cuts on dog noses treated?
- What products can be used to treat nose cuts in dogs?
- How to keep a dog calm when the cut on the dog's nose heals?
- Mistakes to avoid when treating dog wounds
We will therefore explain dog nose wound care in detail – which ointments and solutions are safe, which are not, and how to keep your dog occupied until the safe balms absorb.
The Anatomy of Your Dog's Nose
To understand how nose cuts in dogs occur and how to properly treat them, you need to know some basic things about the anatomy of the dog’s nose.
To make things simple, we will give you a short yet informative anatomy lesson.
The sense of smell is the keenest sense in our dogs. Obviously, behind such powerful sense, there must be a potent organ – the dog's unique nose.
The truth is a dog's nose is ultimately not as special as it is the part of the brain responsible for analyzing scent signals. Namely, as much as 30 percent of the dog's brain is devoted to decrypting odors and olfactory signals.
The nose itself is made of soft tissues, muscles, and bones. These structures are responsible for picking up scents and transporting them to special olfactory receptors.
To ensure such an outstanding sense of smell, the dog’s nose is heavily rigged with blood vessels. These blood vessels are the reason why nose cuts bleed a lot, even when the injuries are small and superficial.
And the reason why nose injuries are common is that the skin covering the nose is very thin and fragile. Plus, add the fact that dogs are often a bit clumsy!
5 Common Causes of Nose Cuts in Dogs
As described, the dog's nose is a sensitive and delicate structure – the skin is thin and rich in blood vessels.
And as you know, dogs are very curious and often stick their noses in all sorts of places. Here are some of the most common scenarios in which dogs get nose cuts.
1: Sniffing (or Better, Nosing Around!)
Dogs love to sniff and experience everything through their noses. In practical terms, this means dogs put their noses everywhere.
For example, a dog trying to sniff something on the other side of the fence is likely to experience a nose cut from the wiry fence.
2: Cat scratches
Yes, this is one of the oldest stories in the book – dogs and cats fight. Even an episode of playing can end up with the cat being scared and defending herself by slapping the dog in the face with open claws.
In such a case, the result is....you guessed it, a cut on the nose!
Dogs jump around a lot, and sometimes they are not very good at estimating where they will land. Therefore, when hitting the floor, they often land with the face down.
As a consequence, nose cuts are likely to occur. Obviously, if the floor is hard, the chances of injuries are higher.
This is more common among older dogs with cataracts or other eye injuries causing vision impairments.
Such dogs have trouble navigating around the house and often bump into walls and furniture. Bumping into the wall or pointy furniture edges can be the culprit for causing nose cuts.
All dogs love to dig and then stick their noses into the holes. Sometimes they even use their snouts to help with the digging!
Since dirt is usually mixed with small branches, rocks, or even glass shards, nose cuts are a very plausible scenario. These types of nose cuts are likely to infect.
How to Treat a Dog's Cut on the Nose
Before we give the wound-care steps, we need to emphasize the importance of staying calm and acting rationally, no matter how scary the situation might seem.
Nose cuts, even when superficial, tend to bleed a lot because as mentioned, the area is heavily lined up with blood vessels.
Nose cuts also heal very slowly because the skin is very thin and itchy, meaning the dog will lick the cut all the time, thus delaying the healing process.
With that being covered, here are the steps for proper wound care.
1: Evaluate the damage
First things first, you need to assess the damage in order to determine what happens next. A dog with a nose injury is likely to be in distress, and you will probably need some help.
Either leash the dog to get control of the situation or ask someone to help you. Be gentle and carefully hold your dog's head while examining the extent of the damage.
2: Stop the Bleeding
Once the damage is assessed, proceed with bleeding control. To stop the bleeding, you should use sterile gauzes.
Apply one gauze pad over the wound. If the blood fills the gauze and comes through, put another pad on top (it is important not the remove the first piece as it will also remove the crust, thus only prolonging the bleeding).
Warning: You can keep adding gauzes for up to five minutes. If the bleeding does not stop within this timeframe, you need to make a trip to the vet's office. On the other hand, if the bleeding stops, you can move to the next step.
3: Clean the Nose Wound
Proper wound cleaning is imperative, even if the wound seems harmless and superficial. It does not take much for pathogens and nasty bacteria to contaminate the wound, enter the bloodstream, and cause infections.
The best way of cleaning the wound is using povidone-iodine or betadine to treat dog wounds. You can soak clean gauze in the solution and dab the cut.
4: Apply Antibiotic Ointment
Once the wound is clean and dry, you can put some antibiotic ointment to prevent infections. For example, you can use Neosporin as this is safe for dogs. It is even better if you have an antimicrobial gel formulated specifically for dogs.
However, when applying an ointment on the nose, you need to make sure your dog will not lick it before being absorbed.
Therefore, after you apply the ointment, keep your dog busy – offer treats or plays a game.
5: Monitor the Nose Cut
It is best advised to keep a close eye on the cut. If your dog tends to scratch or paw at its nose, you should put an Elizabethan collar to prevent reopening of the wound. If the cut seems inflamed or infected, do not hesitate to call the vet.
Mistakes to Avoid When Treating Dog Cuts
Knowing what to do and how to take care of your dog's nose wound is imperative. However, to be properly prepared, you also need to know what not to do.
Here is a review of some popular wound care mistakes pet owners make (which sadly have adverse effects and end up causing more harm than good).
1: Using Hydrogen Peroxide
This is one of the most common mistakes pet owners make when it comes to wound management. In the past, hydrogen peroxide was the first aid for cleaning wounds and preventing infections.
Today, we know that hydrogen peroxide does more harm than good. When applied to the wound, hydrogen peroxide damages the tissues and can significantly halt the healing process.
Therefore, it is best to remove the hydrogen peroxide from the first aid box (both yours and your dog’s).
2: Using Cortisol Ointments
Many antibiotic ointments you regularly have in the medical cabinet are generally safe for dogs (as long as they are not licked before being absorbed).
However, in addition to antibiotics, many topical ointments contain an additional active ingredient – cortisol.
Cortisol ointments must never be applied to an open wound. Similar to hydrogen peroxide, cortisol too causes tissue damage and can delay the crust formation onset, which has a negative impact on the overall healing.
3: Giving Human Medications
Nose cuts and injuries can be more painful than they appear. And obviously, no dog owner wants to see its dog in pain and distress. That is the reason why most of them choose to give human pain medications.
This is a though a huge mistake. Dogs metabolize medications differently than humans. Even some over-the-counter and fairly simple pain meds like Aspirin and Ibuprofen can be dangerous to dogs.
If you believe your dog is in pain and needs an anti-pain drug, consult with your vet about what you can give and in which doses.
All in all, dog nose cuts are a widespread issue among curious canines. They are also quite painful and tend to bleed a lot.
Luckily, more often than not, nose cuts can be successfully managed at home using the helpful tips described above.
However, if you think the cut is too deep or are too panicked to follow these guidelines, do not hesitate to call the vet. After all, it is always better to err on the side of caution and make an unnecessary trip to the vet's office than let your dog's injury progress and complicate.