A query that I frequently meet in my daily clinic is that of dogs that scratch their muzzles frequently. Some use their own paws to rub the area, and others rub against walls, the floor, or other objects in the house.
This behavior is usually due to the dog having itching or discomfort in that area and it is essential to see a veterinaryn as soon as possible to determine the cause and to establish the most appropriate treatment before the dog suffers scratching injuries.
These are the main causes of this behavior, which can be totally harmless or can compromise the life of our pet.
Index of contents
- 1 Why do dogs scratch or rub their snouts?
- 2 Environmental allergies or atopy
- 3 Skin diseases
- 4 Presence of dirt or secretions
- 5 Foreign bodies lodged in the nostrils
- 6 Insect bite (caterpillars)
- 7 Nasal tumors
- 8 Facial paresthesia
Why do dogs scratch or rub their snouts?
Scratching or rubbing the muzzle with the paws or rubbing against objects is a fairly common behavior in dogs, and sometimes may be indicative of serious pathological processes that we must detect in order to act as soon as possible.
The muzzle is the gateway for information from the outside for dogs, since they use smell as the main sense to capture external stimuli. Therefore, being very in contact with the ground and sources of infection, it is an area sensitive to conditions.
Environmental allergies or atopy
One of the most common causes of snout scratching in dogs is allergies. The main symptom of an environmental allergy is itchy skin, and the muzzle, being an area of the body quite exposed to contact with external particles (allergens), it is usually an area generally affected in allergic processes.
When the scratching of the muzzle is due to a skin allergy, we will see that the area is red and possibly there is inflammation or skin eczema. In general, we will see that the dog also scratches or licks other areas of the body (inguinal area, ears, between the fingers, etc.)
In the event that the muzzle area is affected by some cutaneous process that generates itching or discomfort, it will trigger a scratching behavior in the dog in an attempt to alleviate the itching of the area.
One of the skin processes that most frequently affects the muzzle of young dogs is the canine acne, causing itching and even pain, especially in the chin area. In this pathology we can see papules (like pimples similar to human acne) in the area near the muzzle.
Other common skin processes that involve scratching the muzzle are the Malassezia infection of the folds of the belfos or facials and immune diseases such as pemphigus foliaceus, which are accompanied by itching and discomfort in the facial area.
If there is a skin disease associated with the scratching process, we will observe lesions on the dog’s skin such as peeling, blistering, redness, etc.
Presence of dirt or secretions
Sometimes, in completely healthy dogs we can also observe that they scrub their snouts on the sofa, the walls or scratch with their own paws. This behaviour it is usual after eating to remove food remains that they can stay in their belfos or in the morning to get rid of the eyeballs.
Other times, scratching the muzzle is related to the presence of nasal or eye discharges in cold processes, in which dogs try to remove excess mucus with their paws or rubbing themselves with objects.
Foreign bodies lodged in the nostrils
If during the walks a foreign object is introduced into the nostrils of our dog (spike, an insect) we will be able to observe that the area of the snout will be rubbed quite insistently, and generally this behavior will be accompanied by more or less frequent sneezing with the aim to expel that foreign matter from your nose.
Insect bite (caterpillars)
It is common for dogs at some point in their lives to be bitten by an insect, since they carry their snouts at ground level and their walks are through fields or parks, where these “bugs” normally proliferate.
The wasp stings or caterpillars are quite common and can cause great inflammation in a few minutes, so if we observe that our dog scratches his muzzle insistently We must inspect the area and see if there is any inflammation to go to a vet as soon as possible.
A less common cause that can occasionally cause scratching of the muzzle in dogs is the presence of a tumor in the nasal sinuses, since it causes inflammation and discomfort in the area and the dog seeks to alleviate them by rubbing its muzzle.
Paresthesia is defined as the sensation of tingling, heat or cold that is experienced in the skin due to generally neurological disorders. This abnormal sensation provokes an attempt to scratch the snout response in the dog. and the area will be scrubbed very frequently. As possible causes of canine facial paresthesia we can find hyperparathyroidism (due to high calcium levels) or injury to the facial nerves.
As you can see, the possible causes of snout scratching are varied and of different severity, so it is very important that if you observe this behavior in your dog, you go to your vet as soon as possible to determine its etiology.