A dog's nose is fascinating. They use it to breathe, of course, but also to communicate with their environment and other dogs. A dog's nose is 1,000 times more sensitive than a human nose, and consequently, they explore their surroundings and interpret their world by smelling. Licking is the way dogs transfer scents to glands on the roof of the mouth. Then, they "read" the messages they've collected.
Video of the Day
Licking will usually keep a dog's nose moist and soft, but there are several reasons a dog might have a dry nose, including illness, allergies, keratin buildup, or sunburn. Dry noses must be treated with caution and care. Because dogs lick their nose often, any over-the-counter treatment might be toxic. Putting Vaseline on a dog's nose can be a temporary solution, though consulting a vet should be step one.
Why dogs need a wet nose
A wet but not runny nose is desirable on a dog because scent particles better adhere to a wet nose. A moist nose also helps regulate body temperature. Dogs do not sweat, so they must cool themselves by panting. Their nose produces a clear fluid that lowers the temperature of the air passing through. A healthy dog nose is damp and slightly cool to the touch.
Reasons for a dry nose
Older dogs often have a drier nose that requires special care. Younger dogs might have a dry nose after a long nap because no licking happens during sleep time. A dry nose can also result from excessive exposure to sun, wind, or harsh winter temperatures. It might also be a sign of dehydration, especially after strenuous exercise or a long hike.
Other causes of dog dry nose that require veterinary treatment are allergies and auto-immune diseases, such as lupus or pemphigus, which cause a dry, cracked nose. Overgrowth of keratin skin cells on a dog's nose also creates a rough surface. Rely on a vet to diagnose these serious issues. A dry nose doesn't always indicate an illness, though. Look for other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or dry and pale gums. Those are better indicators than dry nose only.
Vaseline on a dog’s nose
Brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, are prone to dry nose because they find nose licking challenging thanks to their short snout. These dogs might need a nose moisturizer. For a quick fix, a small dab of Vaseline can help immediately, especially if the dog's nose is cracked. However, don't use it frequently because the dog will repeatedly lick it off. Remember that Vaseline is a synthetic product made from petroleum.
Coconut oil can also be used and is safer when ingested, but it tends to rub off quickly. Coconut oil liquefies when heated, and a dog's nose is warm.
Best nose balm for dogs
The best nose balms for dogs are those prescribed by a vet or specifically designed for canines. Many of the "natural" types of nose balms for dogs contain coconut oil and are formulated for effective absorption and minimal melting. While there are many brands available, which one is the best is challenging to call without testing them all. However, if you're looking for a good nose balm for your dog, check the label for natural ingredients.
Natural ingredients that are safe for dogs include beeswax or candelilla wax, which act as a natural moisture barrier. Soy wax is sometimes used as a vegan alternative to beeswax. Avoid products with essential oils that are toxic to dogs, such as ylang ylang, evergreen oil, and tea tree oil. Also, cocoa butter is as toxic to dogs as chocolate, so keep it away from your dog.