Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

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You've noticed that whether it's hot outside or it's a bit chilly, your dog has a cold, wet nose. Does this mean that he's sick? Is he upset? Or is this totally normal?

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In most cases, you don't have to be worried if your dog has a wet nose. If his nose is dry or cracked, however, you may want to check and see why with your veterinarian.


Dogs' wet noses help them smell

The truth is, we don't really know why dogs have a cold, wet nose. However, we do know that it helps with smell, which is their strongest sense.

Smell is how dogs get to know you, other dogs, their surroundings, and the world at large. It helps them decipher danger, find comfort, and mark their territory. A dogs' sense of smell is quite extraordinary because it can do things like detect cancer simply by smelling a person's breath, bodily fluid, or skin. Of course, authorities also employ dogs to sniff out bombs and drugs and help them catch criminals.


To improve their sense of smell, dogs will secrete a thin layer of mucus from within their noses. These mucus glands that live inside the nostrils will produce watery and clear fluids that help with the cooling process through evaporation as well.

Also, dogs have cold, wet noses because they like to lick their noses. They do this for a reason. When dogs sniff they air, they take in small, suspended particles. These particles get stuck in their nasal mucus, and that helps dogs determine what they are smelling. When he licks his nose, it picks up some of that smelly substance. Their tongues will rub up against the olfactory glands on the roof of their mouths, and dogs can subsequently learn what they are smelling. Dogs have wet noses because it helps cool them down


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Dogs have wet noses because it helps cool them down

A wet nose will help a dog stay cool when it's hot outside, since dogs don't sweat like humans. They only have sweat glands on their paw pads and their nose, so they'll lick their noses in order to ensure they don't overheat.


When does a wet nose require medical attention?

A dog may have a wet nose because he has mild discharge from a cold. Though a cold might not be a big deal, you'll still want to call your vet just in case. A cold will also manifest itself in the form of sneezing, raspy breathing, and pawing at the face or rubbing the nose.

Why a dog may have a dry nose

If your dog's nose is dry, he might not be licking it very much. You'll notice that when your dog wakes up in the morning, his nose is dry – that's because he hasn't been licking it for hours at a time. He also may sleep near a heater or in the sun, which dries out his nose even more. Some dogs will also naturally have drier noses.


You should only be concerned if your dog's dry nose is a result of a skin disorder, a sunburn, or extreme dehydration. If his nose is flaking, dry, and red, you may need to buy special sunscreen to protect your pup from the sun's harsh rays. Dogs that have pale or pink noses are going to be more likely to get a sunburn.

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If your dog's dry nose is accompanied by scabs or sores or is cracked, then he may have a skin disorder. If he has a dry nose and sunken eyes, weakness, a loss of skin elasticity, and dry gums, then he may be very dehydrated. And if your dog has strange colored mucus that is black, yellow, or green or it's thick and bubbly, this could be a cause for concern.



Dogs' cold, wet noses are usually normal, and the dogs are just trying to keep up their sense of smell or cool themselves down. However, anytime you notice something irregular about your pup's nose, immediately contact your veterinarian for help.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.


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