What Does It Mean When a Dog’s Nose is Dry

You have probably heard that dry nose on dogs means that they are sick. While it's true that a dry nose may be a sign of some medical problem, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your pooch is actually ill and there are other reasons why the pet's nose isn't as wet as usual. Here are some possible reasons for why your dog’s nose is dry.

The Myth of Dry Nose

A dog’s nose is normally cold and wet because dogs lick their nose to make it so. They do it because the moisture helps them improve their sense of smell and determine where the smells are coming from. That is why it is unusual for dogs to have a dry and warm nose.

This led to the belief that dry or warm nose is a signal that a dog is sick. While the exact origin of this idea remains unknown, it is probably rooted in the fact that one common symptom of advanced canine distemper, which is a disease that was once very prevalent, is a hard and dry nose. However, this disease is rare today thanks to vaccinations.

What Are the Reasons for a Dog’s Dry Nose?

Dog's dry noseNow that we have established that moisture and temperature of a dog’s nose should not be used as measurements for the pet's health, let’s look at some of the most common reason for any dog’s dry nose.

1. Sleeping

Unless your dog licks his nose in his sleep, he will wake up with a dry nose. This is completely normal and your dog’s nose should be back to wet again as soon as your pooch start licking it after waking up, which usually happens in the first ten minutes.

2. Dehydration

A dry nose can be a sign of dehydration. Your dog should always have access to fresh drinking water. If he does have water available at all times but he doesn’t drink it, there might be an underlying health issue and a trip to the vet might be needed.

3. Warm Air

Warm air has the same effect on your dog’s nose as it does on your throat. When you wake up with a dry throat during the winter months, it is caused by the warm airflow from the heating vents. Your dog’s nose should become moist again when he moves away from that area.

4. Allergies

A dry nose is a common symptom of allergies in dogs, which are also prevalent in winter. If you notice other symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, coughing, red eyes or skin rash on your pet, take them to the vet to get a diagnosis and prescription allergy medication.

You can also put some coconut or olive oil or petroleum jelly on your dog’s nose to keep it moist because his skin can start cracking if the nose is left dry for too long.

5. Sunburn

Your dog can also have a dry nose due to sunburn. Put some doggy sunscreen on his nose to prevent this problem before you take your dog outside. There are many balms made specifically for dogs’ noses. You can even use a regular baby sunscreen too.

6. Aversion to Plastic

If your dog has plastic bowls, it might be the reason behind his dry nose. Many dogs have an aversion to plastic. Not only that, but recent studies show that plastic bowls are some of the worst for pets for more than one reason. Switch your dog’s plastic bowls for stainless steel or ceramic. If he has some plastic toys, get them away from him too.

When to Worry?What Does It Mean When a Dog’s Nose is Dry

While dog's dry nose itself is rarely a thing to worry about, it can be a signal for a more serious health issue if there are other symptoms present, like vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy.

A dry and warm nose can be a symptom of fever in dogs, as well as other conditions like dry eye. If you notice any additional symptoms or changes in your dog’s appetite or behavior alongside a dry nose, contact your vet for advice.

READ NEXT: 5 Best Remedies for Dog’s Dry or Itchy Skin, Paws and Nose

Shelly lives in Iowa with her husband and Australian Shepherd named Tex. She's been an animal lover since she was a child. Currently, she enjoys reading and writing about dogs, and spending time with her family and getting involved in all things pets.