Last Updated on January 20, 2022 by Griselda M.
We all know that dogs’ noses are supposed to be moist. However, what does it mean if a dog’s nose is dry, and should you worry? Does this mean that your dog is sick? Should you rush to the vet? Or is this just another one of those internet myths that just stress us out unnecessarily?
A bit of both. A dog should have a wet or moist nose. However, if it’s dry that’s not necessarily the end of the world either. There are acceptable and unacceptable reasons why is my dog’s nose dry. We’ll cover all of them below, including what you should do in either case.
What Does It Mean If A Dog’s Nose Is Dry?
In short – it means that it has (hopefully) temporarily dried up for some reason. Most of the time, this isn’t something that should worry you. Dogs’ noses can dry up for various reasons. What’s more, most healthy dogs’ noses will also dry up at least a couple of times a day.
At the same time, however, you can identify some major health problems through a dry nose. Most of the time, these issues happen under particular circumstances or after prolonged neglect of these symptoms.
So, what does it mean when a dog’s nose is dry? Let’s go over all the scenarios one by one.
The Good Case Scenarios
Plenty of everyday situations lead to a dry nose and shouldn’t be a cause of alarm. You should still pay attention to some of them, however, as they can become problematic if ignored. Knowing which is crucial for keeping your dog safe and healthy.
- Slight dehydration – dehydration sounds serious but it’s important to note that it’s perfectly normal for slight dehydration to happen from time to time. This is usually the case after an extensive exercise or playtime, after eating dry kibble, or even after a long rest or a long period of not drinking water. As long as your dog has easy access to clean and fresh water, this shouldn’t be a problem – we all get thirsty and slightly dehydrated from time to time. You should just make sure your dog doesn’t get severely dehydrated at any point.
- Naptime – having a long nap is a perfectly normal reason for a dog’s nose to get dried up. Not only is this a period of several hours that the dog isn’t drinking water but your pooch also won’t be licking his nose while sleeping. So, if your dog is getting some Zzz’s, don’t worry about the dry noses. Once your pet wakes up he will almost immediately lick his nose and go drink some water.
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- Brachycephalic syndrome – the “short nose dog” syndrome is associated with a lot of health problems, especially the respiratory system. However, it’s not technically “a problem” in and of itself as that’s just how some breeds are. So, if you have a Brachycephalic breed such as a bulldog, a Yorkie, or other, you can also expect its nose to be drier than it is for other breeds.
- Weather/climate – both hot and cold water, as well as windy or sunny weather can make your dog’s nose temporarily drier. This is perfectly ok as long as you prevent any prolonged and significant exposure to harmful elements.
- Indoor heating – does your dog like sleeping next to the heater in the winter? That’s perfectly normal as-is for your dog’s nose dry up a bit while doing so.
- Old age – all dogs’ noses tend to get progressively drier over time as they age. You can view this as a “bad” thing given that old age has only one outcome and it isn’t a “good” one. However, old age is also unavoidable and normal. So, don’t necessarily freak out if your senior dog’s nose isn’t as wet as it used to be.
The Bad Case Scenarios
Now onto the stuff, you should be really careful about:
- Severe dehydration – slight dehydration can quickly transition into a major problem if you don’t address it. This usually happens when you live your dog in your car in the summer with no AC and no water. Long hikes can also be a problem if you run out of water.
- Allergies – this doesn’t often lead to a major health risk but allergies are something to be aware of and careful with.
- Sunburn – dogs’ noses are soft, exposed, and very delicate. This makes sunburns a major issue for most canines. If you’re going to the beach or on a hike/walk in the heat of the summer, you should always get sunscreen for your dog as well as yourself.
- Auto-immune disorders – immediately consult with your vet if you notice that your dog’s nose isn’t just consistently dry but is also getting a bit cracked.
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What Should You Do If Your Dog’s Nose Is Dry?
If your dog has gotten a bit more dehydrated than normal and just drinking water isn’t enough, there are a few quick home remedies you can try. The dog dry nose coconut oil combination is quite popular and effective, for example. Coconut oil is perfectly safe to put on a dog’s nose and harmless even if (when) your dog licks it too. Of course, use coconut only in moderation.
Other effective remedies include:
- A warm, moist towel
- Petroleum jelly
- The aforementioned coconut oil
- A veterinary moisturizing lotion or balm (not human ones!)
- A little bit of olive oil
If the problem persists even after one or two applications of such a remedy, consult with your vet immediately.
In Conclusion – What Does It Mean If A Dog’s Nose Is Dry?
Usually – nothing major. A dry dog nose is a symptom but it only indicates a significant problem under certain conditions. So, while you should keep an eye for that, you don’t need to panic after every nap your dog takes. Just make sure your pooch isn’t sunburnt or dehydrated. You should also make sure that you test the dog for allergies and auto-immune diseases.