Why Is My Dog’s Nose Dry?
April 25, 2019 | 3 min read
Updated April 25, 2019
Published: April 25, 2019
Updated: October 10, 2022
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Summary: What does it mean if a dog's nose is dry? Well, in this blog we learn all about why some dogs' noses are dry and some are wet! Learn what the reasons are behind a dog's dry nose and a dog's wet nose, and how to help keep it healthy too...
Have you ever been greeted by your pooch in the morning, to find that their nose isn’t as moist as usual? Have you panicked, thinking that your dog’s dry nose is a sign that something might be wrong? Well, it’s easy to worry about your pup's nose, but before you do, there could be a few surprising reasons why it's so dry! Chances are, your dog is absolutely fine... But, they do say that a wet nose means a healthy dog. So, what can it mean when it's not?
Your dog’s nose will change from wet to dry and cold to warm all throughout the day, so noticing a change in their nose isn’t too strange, but there are some cases where you should be concerned.
You only need to worry if you notice your dog’s nose start to bleed, crack or leak, other than that, your pooch’s dry nose is normally nothing to worry about.
Wet & Cold Dog Noses
Why do dogs have wet noses? Well, the main reason your pup’s nose is wet, cold, and moist is because of a thin layer of mucus that helps them smell. Their amazing sense of smell is 10,000 – 100,000 times more powerful than our human noses! This thin layer of mucus draws-in tiny particles to be assessed by your dog’s olfactory glands, absorbing the scents. So, when your dog is licking its nose, it is collecting all that sensory information to process its environment… clever, huh? So, a dog’s cold, wet nose is actually desirable!
But, if a dog’s cold, wet nose is so important to their sense of smell, why does it get dry so often? Take a look at some of the most common reasons your dog’s nose might be on the dry side… They may surprise you!
Dry Dog Noses
Lots of dogs will wake up with a dry nose. Either from a nap or from a deep sleep, your dog’s nose will be dry when they wake. While your pooch is sleeping, they won’t lick their nose, which in turn will decrease the moisture on the surface of the nasal area. This will happen to pretty much every dog, so if that’s when you notice their dry nose, don’t worry about it at all. Give it 10 minutes after they have woken up, and your pup's nose should be back to normal. If it doesn't, try to encourage your dog to drink some water, as they might be dehydrated from their slumber!
The changes of the season can be quite unkind to your dog. From cold winters to scorching summers, both kinds of weather can cause your pup’s nose to become a bit warm and dry. A lot of exposure to the sun can cause some real problems for the sensitive skin around your dog’s nose, including sunburn! Certain breeds, particularly ones with thin coats or pink skin on their nose, are a lot more prone to getting a little burnt in the sunshine. Although, that doesn’t rule out all other dogs, too! Be mindful and make sure your dog’s nose doesn’t get burnt in the summer months.
During the winter months, you’ll no doubt turn your heating vents up higher. Your dog will most probably snuggle up by the hot air for warmth, which will warm and dry out their nose. Just like when your dog wakes from a nap, give them 10 minutes away from the stream of hot air and their nose will be back to normal.
The older your pooch gets, the drier their nose will become, it’s just a fact of life. Senior dogs produce less mucus, which can then dry out their nasal passages.
What Can I Put On My Dog's Dry Nose?
If you notice your dog’s nose getting a bit more on the dry side as they age, it could be a good idea to invest in a dog-specific nose balm. This will help keep their nose moist and healthy!
The temperature and moistness of your dog’s nose could all be down to their breed. Some dog breeds are a lot more prone to a dry nose. Pugs and Bulldogs have different shaped heads to other dogs, and this can make licking their nose a little more difficult due to the shorter snout. So, it may be a case that as their owner, you may have to moisten it for them once in a while.
But, My Dog's Nose Is Dry And Cracked?
A warm, dry dog nose shouldn’t cause too much trouble, but if it starts to crack and become sore, that is when you will need to intervene and apply a nose balm or chat to the vet.
A dry nose doesn’t always mean something bad is going on, but sometimes it could be due to an illness. If you suspect an illness is causing your dog’s dry nose, check in with your vet.
This is quite common in dogs, particularly in the hotter seasons. When your dog has had a bout of the zoomies at the park or around the yard, it can dehydrate them quite quickly if they don’t drink something soon after.
Make sure that your dog has plenty of fresh, cool water available to them. It is good to make yourself aware of the symptoms of dehydration as a puppy parent. It all makes sense, if your dog is a little dehydrated, they won’t spend as much time licking their nose either resulting in a dry nose.
That’s right, dogs can have seasonal allergies too, just like us humans! If you suffer from allergies, particularly in the summer months, you may notice that your own nose can get a little dry, crusty and sore…well, it could be the same for your dog. If you’re a bit worried that their dry nose is due to seasonal allergies, speak to your vet. They will be able to determine the cause of the dryness.
Why Do Dogs' Noses Run?
A runny dog nose can also mean a variety of different things:
- Seasonal allergies
- Something’s stuck up there!
- A breed disposition (nasal congestion is common in flat-faced breeds like Boxers, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Shih-Tzus, and Bulldogs because of their airway shape)
- Dental issues
- Their nasal passage is infected
- Canine distemper (This is a very serious, contagious virus. Dogs should be vaccinated against this when they are puppies)
- Tumors or cancerous glands
So, if your dog’s nose is changing from dry to wet and cold to warm throughout the day, it's usually nothing to worry about. Your dog is still a healthy pooch - great news!
You can ignore the rule - "a dry nose means your dog is sick". Just keep an eye on their overall health and keep them hydrated in the summer months. Other than that, a dry nose isn’t the end of the world, so try not to worry too much about it unless it's cracked or very sore. Then, you'll need to check in with your vet.
Author Reisin, Jan "Warning Signs Of Dehydration In Dogs" American Kennel Club, Jun 29. 2021 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/warning-signs-dehydration-dogs/