Why Does My Dog Have a Dry Nose?

Updated on March 14, 2017
Dog dry nose
Dog dry nose | Source

Dry Noses in Dogs

Does your dog have a dry nose and you are concerned about it? If so, you are not alone. At the vet hospital I used to work at, we had several clients concerned about their companion's noses; indeed, I recall writing in the appointment book "dry nose" as the main symptom on a quite frequent basis. Sometimes out of curiosity, upon putting away the dog's file after the appointment, I would take a quick peak to see what the diagnosis turned out to be. In most cases, these dogs with dry noses were given a clean bill of health, but there were times certain problems were found. So after initially assuming that the owners were perhaps overly concerned and most likely wasting their money on a useless vet visit, I started thinking that overall it never hurts to be overly cautious.

The main question though remains, is a dry nose in dogs a sign of a potential problem? Can the level of humidity of the dog's nose really reveal something is amiss? We often attribute a cold, wet nose as a sign of a healthy dog. I am not sure where it all started, but there seems to be a strong belief that a dry nose is a reliable sign of the dog being sick. Indeed, that's the main reason why I got so many phone calls from concerned owners scheduling a vet appointment in the first place. They often told me: "My dog has a dry nose, I am afraid he is sick." So is a dry nose a real indication of poor health? Read on to learn what the experts have to say about this.

A wet nose story

Did you know? Stanley Coren in his book "What do dogs know" mentions how the dog got its typical wet nose. Basically, a folk tale says that back in time, when the world was flooded, two dogs were carried on Noah's Ark. When the dogs were strolling in the ark one day, they found a leak that was causing water to quickly rush in. One dog ran for help, while the other dog decided to plug his nose in the hole to stop it from leaking. When Noah and his sons arrived, the dog was in pain and gasping for breath. However, it was thanks to this dog that a major disaster was prevented. After the happening, dogs were blessed with cold, wet noses as a badge of honor given by God so to remember this heroic act!



What Makes a Dog's Nose Wet?

Many people claim that the dry nose, sick dog concept is a myth, but as mentioned before, out of several clients who scheduled appointments for their dog's dry noses, several dogs really ended up being sick and requiring treatment. I wouldn't therefore be too quick to dismiss a dry nose, just because so and so claims it to be an old wive's tale that is hard to die. The truth is, as many things in life, there are variables. To better understand dry noses in dogs it is helpful understanding better the dynamics behind moisture on a dog's nose.

What makes a dog's nose wet? If you own a dog, most likely you're familiar with that cold, wet feeling you get as your dog walks by you sniffing and making "nose contact" with your skin. There are several possible explanations for the wet nose. Your dog's nose may be wet because your dog will occasionally lick it, and therefore, keeps it moisturized and cool. Another great explanation comes from veterinarian Marty Becker he explains that tears are continuously produced to lubricate the eyes and excess tears end up flowing through the nasolacrimal duct with the final result of coming out the base of the nose. Something similar to what happens when somebody cries and feels the need to blow his/her nose. Further, there is belief that a dog's wet nose helps him track scent better. Basically, as the dog sniffs, he will pick up moisture from the surrounding ground, grasses. These minuscule water droplets carry scent, ultimately helping him be as good as he is in tracking smells.

Licking keeps a dog's nose wet
Licking keeps a dog's nose wet | Source

So Makes a Dog's Nose Dry?

So is a dry nose a sign of bad health? Not necessarily, but as mentioned, there are circumstances to be aware of before assuming a dog with a dry nose is totally healthy--and the same goes the other way around, that is, assuming a dog with a wet nose is healthy. Back to the animal hospital I used to work for, I recall a vet comparing the dog's nose to our lips and how our lips are often dry depending on how dry the climate is or the environment in our homes. This seemed to me an effective explanation. After all, just like dogs lick their noses, we lick our lips often and this often helps reduce that dry feeling we get now and then.

The Environment

Let's first take a look at environmental factors that may cause a dog's nose to be dry. A dog's dry nose may therefore be the result of living in a dry home environment, sleeping near a source of heat or simply lying in the sun. If your dog loves snoozing next to the wood stove, fireplace or near the heating vents, suspect dry heat as a cause for his dry nose. If you are worried about that dry nose and feel it's due to the environment, you can always use a home remedy to keep it moist. Veterinarian Barbara Royal suggests rubbing on some Shea butter or coconut oil.

Lack of Licking

Some dog owners are concerned about their dog's normally wet nose turning dry after a good night's sleep. The fact is, most likely during the night the dog had little or no opportunities to lick its nose as frequently as he does during wake hours. If your dog wakes up with a dry nose and then throughout the day his nose is humid, most likely, lack of licking is the cause.

Allergies

Think humans are the only ones suffering from dry eyes and dry nasal passages? Think again! Rover may also develop a dry nose because of seasonal allergies or from exposure to plastics or the associated dyes and chemicals used in manufacturing plastic toys,food and water bowls. Stainless steel or ceramic bowls may be a better option for these dogs.

Dehydration and Fever

If your dog is dehydrated, his body will use up more of his internal water, causing his nose to get dry. Often, a fever can be a cause of dehydration and a consequent dry nose. However, alone, a dry, warm nose is not a good indicator of a fever in dogs. To see if your dog really has a fever you should take his rectal temperature if you are comfortable in doing so. This guide on dog fevers may be helpful: how to take your dog's temperature. You can also tell if your dog is dehydrated by pulling up his skin over the shoulders and back in a tent and verify its elasticity. When a dog is well hydrated the skin quickly springs back, in a dog that is dehydrated it will be slow in returning back to its normal position, or worse, it will remain in the lifted up position.If you suspect dehydration please see your vet immediately, as your dog may need fluids injected under the skin.

So is a dog's dry nose a reliable indicator of health? Steven Marks, DVM, clinical associate professor of critical care and internal medicine at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine says no. He claims: "The moistness of your dog's nose is not an indicator of health." More reliable signs to rely on are symptoms such as not eating, not drinking, or behaving abnormally.

Disclaimer: this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is sick or acting abnormally, please see your vet.

Alexadry© all rights reserved, do not copy.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        4 years ago from Houston, Texas

        You have quite a nice series going here regarding dog's health issues. Good to know that most often a dry nose indicates other things rather than poor health. The other signs you mentioned are better indicators. Pinning this to my dogs board.

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        A very helpful hub on dry nose. Dogs are such great pets and their health issues should be taken into consideration. Sounds simple way to treat the problem.

      • erorantes profile image

        Ana Maria Orantes 

        4 years ago from Miami Florida

        You are welcome. They are bless with a few dogs and in other ways.

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        4 years ago from USA

        Sounds like the Johnson's baby oil worked its magic! Bless your mom and sister's heart for helping this dog. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      • erorantes profile image

        Ana Maria Orantes 

        4 years ago from Miami Florida

        My mother and sister found a small dog at the gas station with a note that said."you can take it if you like this dog." I saw the dog. And the dog was dry all over his body that he had bold patches. I told my my mother to use gohnson's baby oil. They tried the oil on the dog. The dog is fix with a nice fur and moist skin. I like your hub. It makes dog's owners aware of dog's problems. Thank you for writing and sharing your hub. God bless you.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)