What Does it Mean if a Dog’s Nose is Dry?

April 4, 2024

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

Black lab on a leash outside with a healthy, wet nose. Using a pet-safe skin balm for dogs can help with dog’s dry noses

There’s a common misconception associated with our dogs’ noses with many pet parents believing their dog isn’t doing well and are immediately sick if their nose is dry. The truth of the matter is: the moisture in your dog’s nose likely fluctuates throughout the day for a number of reasons. Don’t immediately panic thinking they’re sick if you walk up to them and your dog’s snout is dry. Now that you know it’s not always an indicator that something is wrong, what does it mean if a dog’s nose is dry? It actually tends to have a lot to do with natural body functions.

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

What does it mean if a dog’s nose is dry? Well, there are a list of reasons your dog’s nose could be dry. We can’t exactly ask them how they’re feeling so you’ll have to use your own judgment as to which of the reasons below their nose is dry. Is it normal for them? Have there been hot days? Have they had any strenuous exercise today? Those are among the questions you may ask yourself after you learn about the various explanations of what a pup’s dry nose means.

How Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

Tan with white chested small breed dog sticking nose in the air. Earth Buddy paw balm for dogs is great for dry noses.

The moisture seems to come out of nowhere, but most dog lovers chalk it up to acting similar to the human nose. But wait, is that correct? How do dogs have wet noses? This is a great question and most pet parents are surprised when they discover there’s more than one reason. Beneath the outer layer of your dog’s nose, special glands are at work producing mucus. This mucus then spreads across your dog’s nose, ensuring it keeps their nose moist, and that’s the first way.

You’ve probably watched your dog lick their nose, right? This is another reason your dog’s nose gets wet, but when they’re sleeping you may notice it gets a bit dry. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem; it’s a natural occurrence that rectifies itself once your dog wakes up and resumes their habitual licking.

Your Pup’s Nose Checking Out Scent Particles

Tan coated Samoyed with a lighter colored nose. As dogs age, using our CBD skin balm for dogs can help moisturize noses.

A dog’s olfactory capabilities are astonishingly advanced, often surpassing the detection abilities of the most sophisticated medical equipment available today. The moisture found on a dog’s nose plays a key role in enhancing these already remarkable sensory skills.

This wetness is not just incidental; it’s produced by special glands within the nose that secrete mucus. This mucus is key to trapping scent particles from the air, allowing dogs to perceive and interpret their surroundings with exceptional precision.

When scent particles from the environment come into contact with this moist surface, those scent particles stick, allowing dogs to catch scents more effectively than they could with just a dry nose. This biological design allows dogs to detect faint smells and understand the differences within scents. This makes dogs invaluable in roles that require superior scent detection, including search and rescue missions, detecting medical conditions in humans, or identifying contraband substances.

The synergy between the moisture on their nose and their innate olfactory faculties shows the evolutionary refinement of dogs as highly skilled scent detectors, attuned to the nuances of their environment in ways humans can only hope to someday replicate with medical technology.

Dissipating Heat Through Evaporation

Your dog’s nose does far more than act as a highly efficient detector for sniffing out hidden treats or tracking the movements of that spunky chipmunk collecting acorns in the yard. Their nose also promotes homeostasis when it comes to thermoregulation, helping to maintain their body temperature within a healthy range.

Consider the way moisture behaves in nature. Take, for example, water droplets resting on a leaf. Over time, they don’t just remain static; they evaporate, disappearing into the air. A similar process occurs with the moisture on a dog’s nose. When their nose is wet, the moisture on its surface evaporates, carrying away heat from their body into the surrounding air. This evaporation process is an effective natural mechanism for cooling down, akin to how sweating helps humans regulate body temperature.

This function of a dog’s nose is especially important during warmer weather or after physical activity when their body temperature rises. The wetness of their nose can promote the evaporation rate assisting in cooling their body more efficiently.

It’s a sophisticated biological system that shows you just how complex and adaptable dogs are to a variety of environmental conditions. Most are able to play and be perfectly content whether it’s 30 degrees and snowing or 75 degrees and hot. So, the next time you notice your dog’s wet nose, remember it’s not just about their remarkable sense of smell—it’s also an integral part of how they manage their body heat and stay comfortable.

Brachycephalic Dogs Often Have Dryer Noses

Certain dog breeds naturally deviate from this norm due to their unique physical characteristics. Bulldogs, Pugs, Lhasa Apsos, and Spaniels, for instance, often have drier noses. This variance is largely due to their distinct facial structures.

These dog breeds are known as being brachycephalic and have shorter nasal passageways (AKA short snouts) and a more compact facial structure, which might not support the same level of moisture production or retention as seen in other breeds with longer snouts. Owners of such breeds may notice that their pets’ noses are not as consistently wet as those of other dogs. This doesn’t necessarily signal a problem but rather is a breed-specific trait that contributes to the natural diversity among dogs.

Environmental Conditions Can Contribute to a Dry Nose in Dogs

Grey & white coat pitbull wearing a blue flannel sweater in the winter. Short coated dogs tend to have dry skin & noses.

A prevalent myth among dog owners is that a dry nose equates to illness in their canine companions. However, this assumption doesn’t always hold water. Various factors, like environmental conditions and the dog’s activities, can lead to a temporary dryness of the nose. For instance, after a long nap or a vigorous play session, dogs might exhibit a dry nose due to decreased activity or mild dehydration.

Exposure to elements like wind, sun, or even an environment with low humidity can also sap moisture from a dog’s nose, making it appear dry and cracked without necessarily indicating any underlying issues. Nose color also makes a difference. Dogs with pale noses, for example, can easily be impacted by the sun resulting in a dry nose.

Dryness Through The Winter

Similar to human skin, dog noses can be affected by the weather. Many people’s hands tend to get rough and scaly while the furnace or fireplace is responsible for heating the house. Cold air doesn’t hold much moisture and, while lighting the woodstove can make the house warmer, it’s not going to add humidity to the air.

Wandering in the cold, windy weather doesn’t help either. Like us, during the winter months when the indoor heat source is cranked up, your dog’s nose might lose some of its moisture. This is where a humidifier could come in handy, not only for your pup, but also for you. Proper hydration is also crucial in preventing dryness. Make sure your pup has constant access to fresh, clean water.

Your Dog Is Getting Older

Dogs have a natural habit of licking their noses, a behavior that serves dual purposes: keeping their noses clean and boosting their sense of smell. This habitual licking moves saliva to the nose, which then mixes with the mucus already present.

This combination creates a more effective medium for trapping scent particles, allowing dogs to detect and analyze smells with greater accuracy. The presence of both saliva and mucus on the nose’s surface is crucial for their impressive olfactory capabilities.

As dogs age, however, changes in their body’s physiological processes can lead to a reduction in mucus production, which could lead to senior dogs having a dry nose more often than they had in their younger days. This is a common phenomenon observed in older dogs and is typically considered a normal part of the aging process.

The decreased production of mucus means that older dogs might not be able to retain as much moisture on their noses as they once could, which could slightly impact their ability to capture scents as efficiently as they did when they were young.

Nose Balms For Dogs to Help With Dryness

Earth Buddy’s twist-up CBD nose & paw balm for dogs with dry noses and skin with a light blue label in front of a stone.

Dog nose balm and dog paw balm are two products that have become indispensable for pet owners looking to provide the best care for their furry friends. Whether it’s due to harsh weather conditions or the natural wear and tear of adventurous outdoor activities, the need for a reliable dog nose balm and paw balm for dogs is real.

If the skin on your dog’s nose becomes overly dry, Earth Buddy’s Paw & Skin Balm can come in handy. Skin balm for dogs helps maintain healthy skin, which can help dry noses and paw pads, and is safe for your dog to lick (which they’ll probably do). By helping maintain normal moisture content of skin, it could relieve occasional discomfort. And, side note, it may also help with occasional or seasonal allergies.

The primary ingredients include CBD, cannabinoids, terpenes, organic coconut oil, organic mango butter, and organic beeswax. Every ingredient serves a specific function so you can rest assured that there’s no long list of unnecessary ingredients. To check out exactly what the ingredients look like for this and other Earth Buddy products, check out the lab results page.

What Else Can Help a Dog’s Dry Nose?

Earth Buddy’s Skin & Coat Support Pack contains CBD Nose balm for dogs with a 250mg CBD oil for dogs skin inflammation.

There are other natural products that can help your dog’s dry nose including dog-safe lotions and aloe. Ingredients should be non-toxic and safe for your pet, considering that our canine companions often lick their noses and could ingest a small amount of the lotion.

Go through the list of ingredients to make sure there isn’t anything toxic, especially if it’s not dog-specific. As a general rule, avoid products that aren’t designed specifically for a pup’s dry nose unless it’s a company you feel incredibly confident about that has their certificate of analysis. You should also avoid anything with artificial dyes and fragrances.

A Healthy Dog’s Nose Being Wet or Dry Doesn’t Mean Vet Visits Aren’t Important

If you’re concerned about how dry your dog’s nose is, or if you notice anything abnormal like sunken eyes or a decreased appetite, make an appointment to get veterinary help. Recognizing these other signs early and responding with the appropriate balm and vet visit can prevent common concerns from becoming major concerns.

Even if you’re not immediately concerned or believe your dog needs medical attention, regular veterinary check-ups are important for helping maintain the general health of all ages and breeds. During these appointments, your veterinarian can also provide individualized advice on routine care, nutrition, and any necessary preventive measures to promote and support long-term health.

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