Have you ever heard someone say, “if your dog’s nose is dry, that means he’s sick or unhealthy”? Many people believe this to be true, but is it? Today we’re going to dig into what the experts have to say on this subject.


Why do dogs typically have wet noses?

Dogs have moist noses for a couple of reasons.

1) Scent Absorption

[Dogs’] noses secrete a thin layer of mucous that helps to absorb scent chemicals,” says Dr. Brittany King, DVM. Have you ever seen your dog licking his nose? He does this for a reason. He’s sampling chemicals to help him better understand a certain scent. Licking also helps a dog keep his nose clean.

2) Regulating Body Temperature

Dogs don’t sweat the same way humans do. Our bodies release heat through sweat glands in the skin. Dogs release heat and regulate body temperature through their noses and the pads of their feet. You’ve probably heard people say, “dogs don’t sweat.” This is false. Dogs do secrete sweat through their feet and noses!


Does a cold, wet nose indicate that a dog is healthy?

Not necessarily.

Dogs’ noses should typically be moist, but this is not always a good indication that your dog is healthy, or vice versa. According to WebMD, the temperature of a dog’s nose changes from day to day and even hourly under different conditions, so basing your dog’s health condition on how moist his nose is isn’t a reliable indicator. A better indication is how he is eating, drinking, and behaving.

Your dog’s nose could be dry for a number of reasons, and it usually doesn’t indicate poor health. It could mean your dog is dehydrated, has sunburn on his nose, is allergically reacting to something, just woke up from a nap, or he could simply be lying too close to a heater. Certain dog breeds naturally have drier noses than others when they are in perfect health.

On the other side of the spectrum, a moist nose doesn’t always indicate good health for a dog. A wet nose could mean your dog is sick and has a nasal disease, or he could have a serious injury that doesn’t affect the temperature of his nose. Because there are so many variables, you typically can’t base your dog’s health status off of how wet or dry his nose is.


When you should be concerned about your dog’s health:

A good indicator that your dog is unhealthy or sick is if he starts to behave abnormally.

  • If your dog has unusual nasal discharge (the mucous isn’t clear and thin like it should be), this could mean he has a serious health problem. Take him to the vet if you notice this.
  • If your dog’s nose is swollen or you smell an odor coming from it, take him to the vet.
  • If your dog is acting lethargic, seems uncomfortable, has lost his appetite, or is having trouble breathing, take him to the vet.


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