Is Your Dog’s Nose Dry? Here is What It Could Mean

Dog owners often believe that a healthy dog’s nose should be wet and cold. Here is why dogs usually have wet noses and what it means if your dog has a dry nose instead.
dog with dry nose
dog with dry nose
dog with dry nose

When they sniff your face in the morning or nudge your hand as you give them a treat, many of us are used to the sensation of a wet dog nose! But what does it mean when your dog’s nose is dry instead?

Keep reading to find out what makes a dog’s nose wet in the first place and what to do if your pet’s nose is dry.

Why do dogs have wet noses?

A dog’s sense of smell is incredibly sensitive, and plays an important part in how they explore their environment and communicate. So, dogs have naturally figured out a few tricks to make it work better. One of them is keeping their noses wet. Scent particles stick to damp surfaces better, giving a dog with a wet nose a superior ability to smell and learn about their surroundings. It is one of the reasons why some dogs keep their noses wet by constantly licking them.

Your dog’s wet nose has another important function too – it helps regulate their body temperature. You may have already noticed how wet their nose is on a hot day or after a good session of play or exercising. Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their body as humans do, because of their fur. Instead, they’ve got a whole different system helping them dissipate heat, including panting and using their noses and paws to sweat.

What does it mean if your dog has a dry nose?

If your dog’s nose is dry, you’re probably wondering whether this should be a cause for concern, and the answer is not usually. Unless your pet is displaying other health problems, signs of dehydration, or their nose is becoming sore and cracked, it is unlikely point to a health issue. However, if in doubt you should seek veterinary advice.

There are a few different factors to take into consideration when you notice that your dog’s nose is dry. Some of them explain why healthy dogs have dry noses, while others might be side effects of an underlying condition.

dog licking dry nose

Dry nose in healthy dogs

Here are a few reasons why a healthy dog could have a dry nose:

Usual fluctuations during the day

Dogs noses can vary in dryness depending on the time of day.

Dehydration after exercise

If your dog has had a particularly energetic game of fetch or any other strenuous activity, it is possible that their nose feels drier than usual. This can be due to mild dehydration. Make sure there is plenty of water available for your dog at all times, but especially during and after playing or exercising.

After a nap

Some dogs keep their nose wet by constantly licking it. Naturally they won’t have a chance to do so during a nap. So, if you notice your dog’s nose being dry, it is possible that they’ve just woken up from a snooze.

Warm environment

Whether it’s the summer heat or the radiators in the living room during winter, exposure to dry, warm environments can make a dog’s nose drier than usual.


A dog’s dry nose might also be related to age, as it has been noticed that this can be more common in dogs in their golden years.

Dry dog nose and possible health issues

More serious problems that can be linked to a dry nose include the following:

Severe dehydration

Dry nose can be a symptom of severe dehydration, alongside excessive panting, sunken eyes, lack of skin elasticity, lethargy and even vomiting. If your dog is showing these symptoms, you should contact your vet as an emergency.

dogs dry nose


If your dog’s nose is not only dry, but also warm or visibly reddened, your pet might be suffering from sunburn. Get them inside straight away and check the rest of their skin for signs. Severe cases of sunburn should get immediate medical attention.

Unusual nose discharge

Other than moisture, you should also check your dog’s nose to make sure there is no thickened discharge from either nostril. Always check with your vet if you notice these symptoms as these could point to inflammation or infection, which can have a variety of underlying causes.

In conclusion, a dry dog nose alone isn’t enough to decide whether your dog is healthy or sick. It’s important to keep an eye out for other factors as well. Give your four-legged companion regular once-overs and look out for any unusual signs. Here is a complete dog health checklist to help you through the process.