The Meaning Of A Dry Nose

I have a golden retriever puppy. And I must say one of the cutest things about her is her adorable shoe polish-black wet button nose.

Those cold wet noses come with very warm hearts as any dog owner can attest. But what if your dog’s nose is dry and warm, instead of cold and wet? Should you be concerned?

Most of the time… no. But sometimes yes.

To understand what causes changes in your dog’s nose, you first need to understand what causes the nose to be wet.

What makes a dog’s nose wet?

The wet nose actually comes from the tears in their eyes.

Here’s how it works. A dog’s body produces tears to lubricate the eyes so they can move freely. Often the body produces more tears than necessary.

So what happens?

The excess tears flow through nasolacrimal ducts in the eyelids and out through the nose or into the throat. If you’ve ever had a good cry, you know the same thing happens to us, causing us to blow our nose.

But not only the tears dampen your doggie’s nose. When the tears drip down the nose, the dog will lick its nose too. The spreading of the tear fluid and the saliva from the licking make for a wet nose.

What makes the nose cool is the evaporation of the liquid on the nose. Breathing creates a similar effect. The warm moist air in a dog’s lungs will condense in his nose making it moist and cool.

When the weather’s hot, no condensation. So this cooling effect doesn’t exist and the nose will be dry.

A moist nose is one reason dogs have a great sense of smell. The wet nose can dissolve airborne scents more effectively.

What causes a dog’s nose to become dry and warm?

Now that we understand what causes the wet nose, we can understand better why it might dry out if a dog is sick.

A sick dog will often become dehydrated because the body uses more fluids to heal, especially if they have a fever. Even if your pet is drinking normally, they can become dehydrated when sick.

Dehydration will cause less tear production, and therefore a dry nose.

Some dog breeds are prone to clogged tear ducts like Poodles and Cocker Spaniels. And blocked tear ducts too will cause less fluid flowing through to the nose to keep it moist.

But here’s the thing about a sick dog. It has not only a dry nose. A sick dog will also be lethargic. They may not be eating normally. And they may sleep a lot.

If your dog’s nose is dry and their behavior is off, you should see your vet.

Here are reasons your dog’s nose can be dry even if they’re not sick:

1) Sleeping too close to a heat source in the winter

2) Allergies

3) Eating or drinking from a plastic bowl which can cause an allergic reaction

4) If they have a pale or pink nose, they may be sunburned

5) Not drinking enough water or panting excessively which causes fluid loss, can both cause dehydration

6) Extreme heat or cold

7) A very dry house in the winter or living in a dry climate like Arizona

A healthy dog’s nose can fluctuate between wet and dry many times over the course of the day as their environment and activity level changes.

When a dry nose is cause for alarm and it’s time to call the vet is when it becomes chronic or you notice; cracking, scabbing or sores; a thick, bubbly, yellow, green or black nasal discharge; or your dog’s pale nose is red and flaking.   These may be more serious conditions that need medical attention.

Besides, a chronic dry nose is uncomfortable and makes it more difficult for your dog to smell the world around them. And that’s an important part of being a dog.

If your dog’s nose is chronically dry and you’ve ruled out a medical condition, try petroleum jelly, coconut oil, or shea butter. Your vet may recommend one of the products on the market for dry noses.

Remember, a sick dog may have a dry nose. But a dry nose doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is sick.

Does your dog suffer from a chronic dry nose? How did you treat it? Share in the comment section at the top of the page.

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