What Does it Mean When a Dog's Nose is Dry

What Does it Mean When a Dog's Nose is Dry

Author WDF Staff


There is a widespread belief among dog owners that a dog with a dry nose is a sick dog. Owners believe that a dog should have a wet and slightly cold nose, indicating a healthy dog. Another popular belief is that when a dog’s nose is dry, it signifies a dog has a cold. Is that actually true? Let’s find out.

Why are dog’s noses wet anyway?

The explanation for that question is hidden in basic biology and physics; scent particles stick better to wet surfaces. Dogs depend on their highly developed sense of smell to understand the world around them. Their noses are far more delicate than ours. Dogs have more than 300 million scent receptors compared to our miserable 6. The part of the brain dedicated to analyzing scents is 40% bigger than in humans.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise since dogs in the wild are carnivores, but they are also scavengers. They rely on their sense of smell to find food and survive. Their noses help cool them down during hot days, just like panting regulates their body temperature.

dry dog nose

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Why do dogs get dry noses?

Contrary to popular belief, there are perfectly good explanations why a dog can have a dry nose and not be sick. If you noticed your dog’s nose is dry, here are some of the possible reasons that might happen;

Dog’s nose is dry because they were napping

The primary source of moisture on your dog’s nose is their tongue. When dogs take a nap, they don’t lick their nose and wake up with a dry nose. Their nose becomes dry because the moisture gets soaked up by their skin, or simply the moisture evaporates. That is a simple explanation of why a dog’s nose is dry, and they are not sick.

Dehydrated dry dog nose

When dogs exercise and train, they can get dehydrated. They don’t sweat as we do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t lose water while exercising. Dehydration can lead to a slightly dry dog nose. You should make sure your dog has plenty of water during and after exercising.

Element exposure

If you went for a walk on a beach during a hot summer day with your dog, you might find yourself asking the question, “Why is my dog’s nose dry?” Well, exposure to sunlight, heat, wind, or even cold can lead to a dry dog nose. Dogs can even get a sunburn on their nose. It is a part of their body that is unprotected from the outside elements. If your dog is lying next to a fireplace or a heater, the moisture can evaporate from their nose, which will lead to your dog’s nose being dry.

wet dog nose


One of the most surprising reasons for a dry dog nose is - age. As dogs grow old, their noses become drier and drier. Vets and the scientific community noticed a pattern of dry noses among older dogs.

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

If your dog’s nose is dry, it can be a worrying sign. However, a dry nose is usually the last thing you will notice among all the symptoms that will display. A dry dog nose can be a symptom of;

Severe dehydration

Severe dehydration can occur if the dog was too active on a hot day. Of course, that is not the only case when that can happen, but if it does, one of the symptoms of severe dehydration will be a dry dog nose. Other symptoms will include sunken eyes, excessive panting, lack of skin elasticity, lethargy, and in the worst cases, vomiting. It is a serious health concern that will require immediate veterinary intervention.

Severe sunburn

While a mild sunburn doesn’t pose a serious problem, severe sunburn can be fatal for dogs. One of the symptoms of severe sunburn in dogs will be a dry nose. Their nose will be dry, red, and warm. Take your dog immediately to a shaded place and check the rest of their body for signs of sunburn. Call your vet and ask for advice.

Nasal discharge

A dog’s nose can be dry and combined with an unusual nasal discharge. That could indicate an infection or inflammation that can cause many different health problems. If you notice these two things, make sure you call your vet and schedule an appointment.

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World Dog Finder team

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