What Does It Mean When a Dog’s Nose is Dry?

Dog's Dry Nose

Who doesn’t like a wet dog nose pressed against their cheek? Unlike humans, dogs’ noses are usually moist and warm. Since dogs don’t sweat, they use their noses, tongues, and toe pads to help them regulate their internal body temperature. A dry nose isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but it merits monitoring to make sure everything is okay. Here are a few tips on what might be causing your pooch’s dry nose and how you can them back to normal.

Reasons for Dry Nose in Dogs

A dog may suffer from dry nose due to a variety of reasons including allergies, weather, dehydration, or an underlying medical issue. Here are some of the most frequent culprits:

1. Sleep

A dog’s nose naturally dries up a bit when the dog sleeps because the dog usually doesn’t lick his nose while he’s snoozing away the way he does when he’s awake (although some dogs have been known to do other things in their sleep, like bark and whine!). Once the pooch wakes up, his nose should go back to normal.

2. Sunburn

Yes, your dog can get sunburned! And just as humans are likely to burn and peel when they spend too much time directly under the sun’s rays, a dog’s exposed skin, which includes their nose, can get burned and dry up. If your dog spends a lot of time in the sun, make sure to protect his nose with a pet-friendly sunblock.

Dog's Dry Nose

3. Allergies

Certain allergens in food, dog toys, or even your dog’s serving dishes may lead your dog’s nose to dry up. One of the most common allergens in canines is plastic. If you suspect that your dog may be allergic, make sure to limit or eliminate his interaction with this material by providing him with glass or stainless-steel bowls and toys that are made from rubber or rawhide rather than plastic.

4. Heat

If it’s winter outside and your dog likes to curl up near the heater or radiator, he may be exposing himself to too much heat, and that may be to blame for his dry nose. Try rubbing a bit of pet-friendly balm or petroleum jelly on your dog’s nose to keep it moist and prevent it from cracking.

5. Dehydration

Dehydration can quickly lead to dry nose and skin in your dog. Make sure your dog has a fresh supply of whatever available to him always. If he doesn’t seem to drink enough, actively encourage him to do so. Switching up his dry food for wet food might also help to keep him hydrated.

What Should I Do if My Dog’s Nose is Dry?

Here are three things you can do if your dog’s nose is dry:

1. Take notes to try and isolate the cause.

The first thing you should do is try to isolate the cause of your dog’s dry nose by monitoring and jotting down when, where, and why your dog’s nose might be dry. For example, is your dog’s nose always dry, or is it dry for a few days or hours at a time and then returns to normal? Is it dry while he’s awake, or only when he’s asleep? Is the dryness steady, or is it getting better or worse? Does it tend to get dry when it is cold or snowy outside, or when you turn up the heat in your apartment? Does it tend to get dry in the mornings or at night? After your dog plays with a certain toy or chews on his favorite bone or rawhide treat? Once you have this information, it will be easier to notice patterns and provide your veterinarian with enough context to try to isolate the cause of the issue.

Dog's Dry Nose

2. Remove potential allergens or culprits and see if there is any improvement.

Check if your dog is allergic to plastic by eliminating his exposure to the material and seeing if his dry nose improves. If you’ve recently introduced a new food in his diet, try going back to what you used to feed him before his dry nose flared up, and see if that makes a difference. Try applying sunblock or a pet-friendly soothing nose balm to see if too much sun or heat / dry weather might be the problem.

3. Consult your dog’s veterinarian.

If the two options above don’t work, take your dog to the vet. Make sure to give the vet as much information as possible in order to help him or her assess the right cause of the problem.