Why Is My Dog’s Nose Dry And What Wet Dog Noses Mean

Aug 7, 2023 | Dog Health, Dogs

Having a wet nose is not only a sign of hydration and good health for your canine companion; it also serves a vital purpose, allowing them to sniff objects and people while helping to regulate their body temperature. But what should you do if your pup’s nose is dry?

There are various reasons why your dog may have a dry nose, including dehydration, overexertion, sunburn, autoimmune illnesses, or allergies. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate your pup’s dry nose. Using a warm, moist cloth can provide relief, and specialized nose balms are also available.

Remember, it’s crucial to address a dry nose promptly to prevent any potential infections. If you’re curious about why your dog’s nose might be dry and how to help them, keep on reading!

What Keeps A Dog Nose Cool And Wet?

Close up shot of a dog licking nose outdoors

A dog’s nose is an amazing thing. It helps regulate their body temperature, keeps them hydrated, and serves as an indicator of their overall health. But have you ever wondered why your furry friend’s nose stays so cool and wet?

The moisture on a dog’s nose is a result of various factors. The main factor is pretty straight forward. Dogs produce mucus in their nose, which keeps it moist and functioning properly. Additionally, dogs tend to lick their noses frequently, contributing to the wetness. All this moisture helps lubricate their nasal passages, aiding in their overall health and comfort.

If you observe that your dog’s nose is consistently dry or cracked, it might be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as allergies or infections. In such cases, it’s always wise to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and suitable treatment options.

Why Is My Dog’s Nose Dry?

If you’re a pet parent, you might have wondered about your dog’s dry nose. While it’s usually nothing to worry about, there are a few factors that can lead to a dry nose, such as hyperkeratosis, autoimmune diseases, infections, nasal hyperkeratosis, and even dry eye. The treatment for a dry nose depends on its underlying cause, and fortunately, there are topical preparations available that can offer comfort to your furry friend. But let’s take a deeper dive into what may be causing that dryness in your pup’s sniffer.


Your Dog Just Woke Up

Upon waking up, your dog’s nose may be dry, but it will quickly moisten as they become more active throughout the day. It’s completely normal for a dog’s nose to be dry when they first wake up. Just like humans, dogs experience changes in their bodies during sleep, and one of these changes can be a temporary drying of the nose. But as your dog starts moving around and engaging in activities, their nose will naturally start to produce moisture.

As responsible dog owners, it’s important to understand that a dry dog nose doesn’t necessarily indicate illness or any health concerns. In fact, many healthy dogs have dry noses from time to time without any negative implications. It’s only when a dog’s nose remains persistently dry or shows other signs of illness that you should consider consulting your veterinarian.

Lonely dog freezing on the street while snowing

They Were Out In Harsh Weather

After being out in harsh weather, your dog’s nose may feel rough and chapped, like sandpaper rubbing against your hand. This is because extreme conditions can cause their nose to lose moisture, resulting in a dry nose. Harsh weather such as strong winds, cold temperatures, or excessive heat can all contribute to this dehydration of the nose. To help alleviate your dog’s dry nose after being exposed to harsh weather, it’s crucial to provide them with proper hydration. Ensure they have access to fresh water at all times and encourage them to drink regularly.

Additionally, you can consider using a humidifier indoors if the air is excessively dry due to heating or cooling systems. This will help maintain moisture levels not only for their nose but also for their overall well-being. Remember that while a wet dog nose is often associated with good health and normal hydration levels, a temporarily dry nose after being out in harsh weather is usually nothing alarming. By providing adequate moisture through hydration and controlling the indoor environment when needed, you can keep your furry friend comfortable and their noses healthy even during extreme conditions.


They Are Dehydrated

Dehydration can be a potential concern if your furry companion doesn’t have access to enough water, especially after being exposed to harsh weather conditions. A dry nose in dogs is often a sign of dehydration. When your dog’s nose feels dry to the touch, it may indicate that they’re not getting enough fluids.

Just like humans, dogs need water for their bodies to function properly. Without adequate hydration, dogs can become lethargic and their overall health can deteriorate. A dry nose can also be a sign of illness in dogs. If your dog’s nose is usually wet but suddenly becomes dry, it could be a warning sign that something’s wrong. It’s important to monitor your dog closely and look for other symptoms such as excessive panting, vomiting, or diarrhea. These could all be indicators that your furry friend is severely dehydrated and in need of immediate attention from a veterinarian.

There are various reasons why a dog may become dehydrated. They may simply not be drinking enough water, especially if they’ve been outside in harsh weather conditions. Dogs can lose moisture through evaporation from their skin and panting when they’re hot or exercising vigorously. Additionally, certain illnesses or medical conditions can cause increased fluid loss through vomiting or diarrhea.

If you notice that your dog’s nose is dry and they’re showing signs of dehydration, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly by providing them with plenty of fresh water and seeking veterinary care if necessary. Dehydration in dogs can lead to serious complications and even be life-threatening if left untreated.

In addition to providing them with plenty of fresh water, it’s important to encourage them to drink by adding electrolyte solutions recommended by a veterinarian. It’s also advisable to offer small amounts of water or ice cubes frequently rather than allowing them to gulp down large amounts at once. Seeking veterinary care is crucial as they may need intravenous fluids or further medical intervention to rehydrate properly.


They Have A Fever

If your furry companion is feeling under the weather, their nose may feel warm to the touch, indicating that they could be running a fever. While it’s true that a pet’s nose is typically moist and cool, a dry nose can sometimes be a sign of an underlying issue such as a fever.

Dogs regulate their body temperature through their nose, so when they have a fever, their body tries to conserve heat by reducing moisture production in the nose. This can result in a dry and warm nose. It’s important to note that a dry nose alone doesn’t necessarily mean your dog has a fever. Other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, or sneezing should also be taken into consideration. If you suspect your dog has a fever, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian who can accurately measure their body temperature and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

Dry brachycephalic dog nose with narrow nostrils of a French Bulldog

They Have Nasal Hyperkeratosis

To treat your furry friend’s nasal hyperkeratosis, keep their nose moisturized with a pet-safe nose balm recommended by your veterinarian. Nasal hyperkeratosis is a condition where your dog has a crusty nose that’s excessively dry. This can cause discomfort for your pup and lead to cracking or bleeding. By applying a pet-safe balm regularly, you can help restore moisture to their nose and alleviate any discomfort they may be experiencing.

Moisture is essential for maintaining the health of your dog’s body, including their nose. Just like humans, dogs rely on moisture to keep their skin hydrated and functioning properly. When the skin on their nose becomes dry, it can lead to nasal hyperkeratosis. This condition occurs when there is an overproduction of keratin in the skin cells, causing them to become thickened and hardened. By using a pet-safe nose balm recommended by your veterinarian, you can provide the necessary moisture to soften the skin and prevent further dryness or cracking. Remember it’s always a good idea to consult with your vet about the best product for your dog’s specific needs and follow their instructions for application.


They Have An Autoimmune Disease

When your furry friend is dealing with an autoimmune disease, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian for the best course of treatment. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body. This can lead to various symptoms and complications, including a dry nose in dogs.

If your dog has an autoimmune disease, their nose may become dry and cracked due to inflammation and reduced moisture production. Not only is a dry nose uncomfortable for your pup, but it can also indicate that their immune system is not functioning properly. Therefore, seeking veterinary care promptly is essential.

Your vet will diagnose the specific autoimmune disease affecting your dog and recommend appropriate treatments. These treatments may involve medications to suppress the immune response, dietary changes, or topical ointments to moisturize the nose.

By closely working with your vet, you can help improve your sick dog’s quality of life and ensure they receive the necessary care for their autoimmune condition. Remember, a moist nose doesn’t always indicate a healthy dog, so it’s important to pay attention to other signs of illness as well.


Dry Eye Due To Blocked Tear Ducts

If your dog’s nose is dry, it could be due to a variety of reasons. In our previous subtopic, we explored autoimmune diseases as a potential cause. Now, let’s shift our focus to another possibility: blocked tear ducts.

Blocked tear ducts can cause dryness in a dog’s nose, as tears serve as a vital source of moisture. Tears not only keep your dog’s eyes lubricated, but also provide moisture as they sniff and breathe. When tear ducts become blocked, tears are unable to drain correctly and may accumulate around the nasal area. As a result, your dog’s nose can feel dry to the touch.

If you notice your dog’s nose is dry and suspect blocked tear ducts as the culprit, seeking veterinary advice is important. A veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause. Treatment options for blocked tear ducts may include medication or surgical intervention, depending on the severity.



Allergies can be frustrating, but did you know that they could also be the reason behind your pup’s dry nose? Similar to humans, dogs can suffer from allergies that result in a dry nose.

So, how do allergies occur? Well, when your dog’s immune system overreacts to certain substances like pollen, dust mites, or specific foods, allergies can kick in. These allergens can cause your dog’s nasal passages to become inflamed, leading to dryness of the nose.

When exposed to allergens, your dog’s body releases histamines to combat these foreign substances. This immune response can bring about irritation and inflammation in the nasal tissues, ultimately causing a dry nose. Additionally, some dogs may develop a condition called atopic dermatitis, which is an allergic skin reaction that can affect their noses.

To provide relief to your dog’s allergies and prevent a dry snout, it’s crucial to identify and avoid the specific allergens that trigger their symptoms. This may involve consulting with your veterinarian for allergy testing or eliminating potential allergens from their diet or environment.

Remember, not all dogs with allergies will have a dry nose. Some may even experience excessive nasal discharge and have a wet nose instead. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to overall health and behavior alongside nasal conditions when determining if your dog has allergies. If you suspect that allergies are the cause of your dog’s dry nose or other symptoms like itching or sneezing, it’s best to seek veterinary advice for proper diagnosis and treatment options. By managing your pup’s allergies, you can help keep their noses moist and improve their overall quality of life.


Old Age

As your canine companion ages, it’s natural for their snout to undergo changes that may include a decrease in moisture. One common sign of aging in dogs is a dry nose. Just like humans, older dogs can experience a reduction in oil production, leading to dryness and flakiness on their noses. While this change may seem concerning at first, it does not necessarily indicate any serious health issues. Older dogs can still have an excellent sense of smell even with a dry nose.

If you notice any other concerning symptoms along with the dryness, such as nasal discharge or difficulty breathing, it’s important to consult your veterinarian for further evaluation. Otherwise, keeping your senior dog comfortable and providing proper hydration will help maintain their overall well-being despite the changes in their nose.

How To Treat Your Dog’s Dry Nose

To help your dog’s dry nose, you can apply a small amount of pet-safe moisturizer that ideally has only natural ingredients. Dry noses in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors such as cold weather, allergies, or dehydration. By using a pet-safe moisturizer specifically designed for dogs, you can provide relief and hydration to their dry nose. Simply apply a thin layer of the moisturizer to your dog’s nose and gently rub it in. Make sure to choose a product that’s safe for them to ingest, as dogs often lick their noses.

In addition to applying moisturizer, it’s important to address the underlying cause of your dog’s dry nose. Ensure that they have access to clean and fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration. If you suspect allergies are causing the issue, consult with your veterinarian who may recommend allergy testing or prescribe medication.

Additionally, protecting your dog from extreme weather conditions by providing shelter and avoiding prolonged exposure to harsh elements can also help maintain a wet nose. Remember that while a wet nose is generally healthy for dogs, occasional dryness may not always be cause for concern. However, if your dog’s dry nose persists or is accompanied by other symptoms such as sneezing or discharge, it’s best to seek veterinary advice for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How To Prevent Dry Noses On Dogs

Thirsty dog in hot day

One effective way to prevent dry noses on dogs is by ensuring they have access to clean and fresh water at all times. Just like humans, dogs need proper hydration to keep their bodies functioning properly. When a dog’s body lacks moisture, it can lead to a dry nose. Make sure your dog always has a filled water bowl available, especially during hot weather or after physical activity. Additionally, you can consider adding wet food or moistening your dog’s dry food with water to increase their overall moisture intake.

Another way to prevent dry noses on dogs is by providing a humid environment for them. Dry air can cause the moisture on your dog’s nose to evaporate quickly, leading to dryness. You can use a humidifier in your home, especially during winter months when the air tends to be super dry causing even drier noses. This will help maintain an optimal level of humidity and prevent your dog’s nose from drying out. Another option is placing bowls of water around the house or near heating vents to add some moisture into the air. Overall, by ensuring your dog has access to clean and fresh water at all times and providing a humid environment, you can effectively prevent dry noses on dogs.

Dry Nose Vs. Wet Nose Vs. Runny Nose

If your furry friend has a runny nose, it could indicate an underlying health issue. It’s important to differentiate between a dry, wet, and runny nose. A dry nose is rough to the touch and lacks moisture. Conversely, a wet nose has the right amount of moisture, aiding scent detection and acting as a protective barrier.

A runny nose is different. It involves excessive discharge or mucus from the nostrils, possibly caused by allergies, infections, foreign objects, or even tumors. If your dog has persistent nasal discharge, along with coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing, consult a veterinarian. They can evaluate the situation and provide necessary treatment for your canine companion’s well-being.

Signs You Should Take Your Dog To The Vet

If your four-legged friend experiences any changes, it’s important to consider scheduling a vet visit. Here are some signs that should not be ignored:


  • Severe dehydration or sunken eyes
  • Crusting, bleeding, or peeling of your dog’s nose
  • Nasal discharge
  • Excessive sneezing or reverse sneezing
  • Change in the color of your dog’s nose that is not typical for him or her (i.e., not the normal seasonal variation in nose color seen in some dog breeds)
  • Loss of the normal “cobblestone” appearance of the nose (i.e., loss of the tiny bumps)
  • Dryness of one side of a dog’s nose

Dry Nose Frequently Asked Questions

Can a dog’s dry nose be a sign of illness or disease?

Yes, a dog’s dry nose can be a sign of illness or disease. It could indicate dehydration, allergies, or even an infection. If your dog’s nose is consistently dry, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Are some dog breeds more prone to dry noses than others?

Yes, brachycephalic breeds, like the Pug or Bulldog, are more prone to dry noses due to their facial structure. However, it’s important to monitor any changes in your dog’s nose as it could be a sign of illness or disease.

Can a dog’s dry nose be caused by environmental factors?

Yes, a dog’s dry nose can be caused by environmental factors such as low humidity or exposure to heat. It’s important to monitor your dog’s nose and consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Is it normal for a dog’s nose to be dry sometimes and wet at other times?

Yes, it’s completely normal for your dog’s nose to be dry one moment and wet the next. It’s like a roller coaster of moisture! Don’t worry, as long as your pup is healthy and happy, their nose will do its own thing.

Are there any home remedies or over-the-counter products that can help with a dog’s dry nose?

Yes, there are several options you can try. Applying a small amount of petroleum jelly, olive oil, or coconut oil to your dog’s nose can help moisturize it. You can also consider using over-the-counter products like nose balms or moisturizing sprays specifically made for dogs.

The Tail End

Understanding why your dog’s nose is dry and how to remedy the situation is crucial for their overall health and well-being. A dog’s wet nose serves as a cooling system, helping them regulate their body temperature. It also aids in detecting scents and communicating with other dogs. So when you notice that your furry friend’s nose is dry, it may be a sign of dehydration or an underlying health issue.

To treat your dog’s dry nose, make sure they have access to fresh water at all times and monitor their hydration levels closely. You can also apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or a pet-safe moisturizer to help hydrate the skin on their nose. Additionally, consider adjusting their diet to include more moisture-rich foods such as canned food or adding water to their kibble.

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to keeping your dog’s nose moist and healthy. Regularly clean their water bowl and ensure it is filled with clean, fresh water throughout the day. Avoid exposing them to extreme weather conditions that could cause dehydration or dryness. Lastly, schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to catch any potential health issues early on.

Remember, while a dry nose might not always be a cause for concern, it’s essential to pay attention to any changes in your dog’s nasal health. By taking proactive measures and seeking veterinary advice when necessary, you’ll be providing the best care possible for your beloved furry companion.

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