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Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

Tiny French Bulldog sleeping

Have you ever wondered why your dog’s nose is constantly wet and colder than the rest of its body? Well, you have to know that while humans experience the world, mainly with their eyes, dogs experience the same world mainly with their nose. Let’s see why do dogs have wet noses?

How Do Dogs “See” The World With Their Noses?

When a dog smells the air, its moist nose that is also spongy outside, will capture any scent the air carries.
As air enters the dog’s nose, a small fold of tissue divides into two separate folds, one being used for breathing and the other one just for smelling.

While the first flow of air goes into the lungs, the second airflow enters a region filled with highly specialized olfactory receptor cells, about 300 million receptors, compared to only 5 million in the human nose.

Dogs breathe through nostrils, but they exhale through slits at the side of their nose, creating swirls of air that help draw in new odor molecules, to allow odor concentration build up over multiple sniffs.

To maximize their nose’s performance, dogs secrete a layer of mucus from within their nose. The inner lining of the dog’s nose contains a set of special glands producing a special mucus.

The mucus helps keep the nasal canals moist, and to make smelling even sharper, a thin layer clings to the nostrils to enhance the absorption of scent chemicals.

When dogs lick their nose with the tongue, the scent chemicals are carried by the tongue into the Jacobson’s organ located near the bottom of the nasal cavity. This will provide the glands on the roof of their mouth with the capacity to smell and taste simultaneously.

The vomeronasal organ is located above the roof of the mouth and helps the dog to detect hormones released by people and animals, potential mates, and also distinguish between friendly and hostile animals.

The olfactory system in the dog’s brain dedicated to process smells, takes up more space compared to the olfactory system in the human brain.

This allows dogs to remember a huge variety of specific scents. At concentrations up to 100 million times less than our noses can detect.

Why Is Your Dog’s Nose Wet All the Time?

The inner lining of special glands in the dog’s nose are responsible for the special mucus produced, which keeps their nose wet all the time.

Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their body like humans have, so they rely on sweat glands located in their noses. The moist nose also helps the dogs to regulate their body temperature, along with the heat dissipated through their foot pads, and through panting.

Dogs constantly lick their snout and this keeps their nose wet. Dogs lick their snout when eating or drinking, and when playing in the yard with different toys.

When the saliva and mucus on your dog’s nose evaporates, a cool sensation is created which enables the dog to cool down through a process called vasodilatation (the widening of the blood cells in the dog’s nostrils).

What Does It Mean When A Dog’s Nose Is Dry?

Now as we know why dog’s noses are wet, let’s see what happens when a dog’s nose is dry.

To begin, I have to tell you that there is a lot variation of normal.

If a dog’s nose is warm or dry this does not mean that the dog is sick.

A warm and dry nose by itself, doesn’t mean that your pooch has a fever or is sick. Dog noses can go from moist and cool to warm and dry, and back again very easily.

A healthy dog may have a dry and pretty warm nose after a nap, or after physical activity without drinking water.

This is totally normal and perfectly healthy because usually, a dry nose is not always a sign of trouble.

A Dry Nose and Symptoms of Illness

If your dog’s nose is dry and has symptoms of an illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy or excessive salivation, then a warm and dry nose is maybe an additional symptom of an underlying condition.

What you definitely want to watch out for are changes in the texture of your pet’s nose, for example a flaky or crusty nose, or if the color of your dog’s nose changes.

If the nose is not only dry, but the skin is cracking, if it’s depigmenting, or you see scabs, sores or fissures, or any other form of skin irritation, you should definitely take your dog to the vet.

If your dog’s nose is pink or has turned pink you’ll need to protect it from getting sunburned, that’s actually a very real concern during the summer or very sunny winter days. You can solve the issue by applying a non-toxic, safe sunscreen before it goes outside to play.

Pink Labrador

Labrador with pinkish nose, image source: pixabay.com

However, if you notice nasal discharge, swelling, or an unpleasant odor from your dog’s nose or the area around it, having trouble breathing or having respiratory sounds, you should call your vet right away.

How Can I Hydrate My Dog’s Nose?

Everything you put on your dog’s nose should be edible (not vaseline), because dogs will lick it right away.

There are a few natural products that you can put on your dog’s nose to soothe and heal your dog’s dry and maybe crusty or chapped nose.

All these products are natural and edible, so they can’t harm your pooch.

1. Olive Oil

Olive oil can help your dog in many ways. You can use it to treat dry nose, paws and even ears.
You can also add a teaspoon of olive oil to the dog’s meals to promote healthy skin and nails.

2. Castor Oil

Castor oil contains 90% Ricinoleic acid, which is very good for your dog’s hair and to heal dry and irritated skin.
However, because dogs like to lick everything you put on their nose, you should use only a small amount of oil.

Castor oil added in excess and licked by your dog will act like a strong laxative, causing diarrhea.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is considered some of the safest natural skin care products available today. Applied on your dog’s cracked and dry nose will moisture and repair the skin and will improve its elasticity.

4. Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil could be very effective in healing your dog’s nose, because the skin will quickly and easily absorb the oil to repair the skin.

5. Cocoa Seed Butter

Cocoa seed butter is very useful when it comes to soften your dog’s dry, cracked and sunburned nose.
Don’t worry about the word “cocoa” in this product, because the seeds used to make the butter do not contain the ingredients making chocolate toxic to dogs.

The same cocoa seed butter turns to be very useful if you want to moisturize the elbows or rough paw pads.

6. Shea Butter

This is another great natural product for skin care. The Shea butter works very well for humans, and also for dogs because is used to moisturize and repair their nose, elbows and rough paw pads.


In normal conditions, a healthy dog has a wet and cold nose, especially in the front area of the nose where the mucus covers the skin.

However, if your dog’s nose is dry and warm, this doesn’t mean that the dog is ill.

A dry and warm nose should be followed by illness symptoms like the lack of appetite, maybe diarrhea, excess saliva, lethargy.

Only if you see these symptoms in your dog associated with a dry nose you should be worried and call your vet.

Article written by:

Darius Savin is a lifelong animal lover and protector and the chief editor of Checkmember. He writes and edits articles and is also the creator of the distribution maps for all the creatures featured here.