What Does It Mean If Your Dog’s Nose Is Dry And Is It Serious?

Last Updated on October 18, 2021 by Marco

It’s common knowledge that dog noses should be moist when they are healthy. So, what does it mean if your dog’s nose is dry, and is it serious? Are dog noses really moist all the time or is it normal for them to dry up sometimes? As a rule of thumb, you should contact your vet whenever you suspect a health problem but is a dry nose that significant of a symptom? Let’s go over the different possible explanations below.

What Does It Mean If Your Dog’s Nose Is Dry?

If you see a dog nose dry, that is something you should pay attention to. However, it’s rarely as much of a major symptom as you may have been led to believe. The fact of the matter is that every dog has a dry nose from time to time and that’s perfectly normal. The trick here is to know what does it mean if your dog’s nose is dry – when it is a problem, and when it isn’t. So, let’s go over the various possible explanations.

Harmless Reasons For Why My Dog Has A Dry Nose

There are lots of everyday situations that can – and often do – lead to a dog’s dry nose. So, if you’re going to jump up and panic when your dog’s nose is dry, you might as well do that on a daily basis. Here are the most common harmless reasons why your dog’s nose might be dry:

  • Slight dehydration from exercise. Dehydration sounds bad and it can be bad if left unaddressed. However, some occasional dehydration is as unavoidable in dogs as it is in people. Particularly in long and vigorous exercises, your dog can easily get dehydrated enough for its nose to dry up. You should obviously give your dog some water as soon as possible but if you do, there should be no negative consequences.
  • Going out in the sunny, hot, windy, or cold weather. Prolonged time spent on almost all types of non-humid weather can also dry your dog’s nose up. Both cold and hot weather can do that, as can wind and sun exposure. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that your dog always feels well in whatever weather you’re facing but some dry nose on a windy day isn’t a major problem in and of itself. Do be careful about nose sunburn, however
  • Spending some time next to a heat source. Similarly to the above point, if you’ve turned on the heater at home and your dog is lying next to it, it’s perfectly normal to see the pooch’s nose dry up a bit. As long as your dog doesn’t accidentally burn its nose on it, everything should be fine.
  • A simple nap. Speaking of lying at home, a nice and long nap can also dry your dog’s nose. That’s because your dog isn’t licking its nose while it sleeps (usually) and so it can dry up a little. This also shouldn’t be a cause of concern – your dog will more than likely lick its nose when it wakes up and go drink some water too.

Harmless Reasons For Why My Dog Has A Dry Nose

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  • Old age. All dogs will naturally get a drier nose as they age up. This is technically “bad” as it is a sign of old age but it’s also pretty much unavoidable. And, it’s not a direct symptom of a particular health problem – not necessarily at least.
  • Brachycephalic syndrome. This is a condition dogs of many breeds are born with. Bulldogs, pugs, Frenchies, and other Brachycephalic breeds have shorter noses and restricted airways which naturally results in a drier nose. While Brachycephalic syndrome can lead to various health problems, it’s not an immediate “problem” on its own and it’s unavoidable for these breeds. So, a drier nose for such dogs is to be expected.

Problematic Reasons For Why My Dog Has A Dry Nose

Of course, all of the above doesn’t mean that you should ignore your dog’s dry nose completely. If you notice that your dog has a drier nose more often than usual, if none of the above causes seem likely, or if you notice any other symptoms – that can be a sign of trouble. Here are some of the common conditions to watch out for:

  • Allergies – usually harmless but still something to be careful with
  • Auto-immune diseases – quite unfortunate and usually identifiable when the dog’s nose is dry and cracked too
  • Sunburn – we mentioned that above and it’s definitely unpleasant. You can use sunscreen to protect your dog
  • Severe dehydration – if you don’t hydrate your dog well enough, a mild dehydration after an exercise can easily grow into something much worse

Can Sick Dogs Have Wet Noses?

Indeed they can. There are countless health problems that don’t affect the wetness of your dog’s nose one bit. So, you really can’t use your dog’s nose as a barometer for its health.

Why Do Dogs Even Have Wet Noses?

If you’re wondering why dogs’ noses are as wet as they are, the reason is very simple – to help them sense smells better. A wet surface captures and retains more scent particles from the air, allowing the dog to more easily notice even the faintest of smells. Dogs can even sense the taste of what they smell thanks to a special olfactory organ in their noses called the Jacobson’s organ or the Vomeronasal organ.

When you think about it, human’s noses are wet too, but just on the inside. We too have mucus-producing glands in our noses that serve the same function. In dogs’ cases, these glands just work on the outside too. And, if your dog’s nose starts getting dry, the dog will even lick it to both moisturize and clean it.

So, What Does It Mean If Your Dog’s Nose Is Dry and What Can You Do About It?

Most of the time a dog’s dry nose is just that – a dry nose. If some water and a few nose licks don’t fix it, however, you may want to call your vet just in case. Your vet should know your dog’s personal health history and risks, and will give you the best possible advice for your situation.

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