6 Reasons for a Dog’s Dry Nose

Contrary to popular belief, a dog’s nose doesn’t have to be wet. There are many reasons for a dog’s dry nose, from age to dehydration.

Jun 8, 2024By Sara Payne
reasons for dogs dry nose

You’ve probably heard that a dog’s nose should always be wet. So, if you’ve noticed your dog’s nose is dry, you may be worried he is sick. Yet, there are several reasons that a dog’s nose may be dry, and it doesn’t always mean something is wrong.

Dogs can have dry noses due to dehydration, weather conditions, sleep, allergies, age, and breed. Most of these factors aren’t cause for concern, but if you have questions about your dog’s health, consult their veterinarian.

First: Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

black dog nose
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Dogs’ noses secrete mucus to keep the nasal canals moist. In the long run, this moisture improves their sense of smell, as odors are more likely to stick to wet surfaces. A dog’s wet nose also helps them cool down through evaporation, similar to panting.

While wet noses are normal for dogs, unless you notice any troubling signs (such as weight loss and trouble breathing), a dry nose generally isn’t cause for concern. Of course, if you ever have questions about your dog’s health, feel free to ask your vet questions about their well-being at your next visit.

1. Dehydration

chihuahua drinking
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If your dog has had a good romp with plenty of exercise, they may have a dry nose due to dehydration. Hiking or lots of outdoor play, especially in hot weather, can dehydrate your dog. So, to prevent this from happening, take a water bottle and a portable water dish for your dog on long hikes.

Also, give your dog plenty of access to water on hot days or during outdoor play. If your dog exhibits symptoms of severe dehydration, such as excessive panting, sunken eyes, lethargy, vomiting, or lack of skin elasticity, go to an emergency vet. Severe dehydration may need to be treated intravenously.

2. Weather

shepherd in snow
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Both hot and cold weather can affect a dog’s nose. If your dog’s nose is warm, dry, and red, your dog may have a sunburn. This can occur if your dog has been outside during hot, sunny weather. Your dog may also get a windburn on their nose, which would look like a sunburn. This would cause your dog’s nose to be dry.

Cold weather can also chap your dog’s nose. This can lead to dry, cracked skin. If your dog sits close to a vent or heater, they may also have drier noses. The good news is that, once in suitable conditions, a dog’s nose will wet itself. Otherwise, you could try treating your dog’s nose with a pet-friendly balm.

3. Sleep

labrador retriever sleeping
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Many dogs lick their noses to keep them wet. Yet, your dog won’t do this while asleep. If you notice that your dog’s nose is always dry after a nap or long sleep, this is normal. It just means they haven’t licked their nose.

If you notice that your dog’s nose is hot and dry alongside other symptoms of illness, such as nasal discharge, inflammation, or pain, you may want to have your dog evaluated by a veterinary professional.

4. Allergies

beagle in flowers
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Dogs can either have dry or wet noses when they have seasonal allergies. If your dog has a dry nose and red paws, accompanied by obsessive licking or biting, they may have allergies.

Some dogs will need a vet to prescribe an allergy medication to combat their allergies. Others will only have mild allergy symptoms when certain irritants are around. If you can, try to identify and eliminate any irritants that may cause your dog discomfort.

5. Age

old dog in snow
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Dogs have drier noses as they age. It’s a natural part of aging. They don’t produce their nasal mucus at the same rate they did as younger dogs. However, older dogs often have illnesses that may also lead to dry noses.

Certain autoimmune diseases can affect the production of nose mucus and lead to a dry nose. Dogs may also have a dry nose if they are running a fever. Fever, decreased appetite, and lethargy are signs your dog may be ill.

Another illness that may lead to a dry nose is canine hyperkeratosis. This is a skin condition in dogs where the skin cells overproduce keratin, leading to a hard, crusty layer on your dog’s nose. It can lead to infection if it becomes cracked and dry. It can be painful, too.

Canine hyperkeratosis affects dogs' paws and ears, as well. Older dogs are more prone to this skin condition. Conditions such as chronic liver disease and pancreatic tumors may also lead to hyperkeratosis.

6. Breed

french bulldog nose
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Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds are more likely to have dry noses because they cannot lick their noses well. Their short, squat faces make it hard for them to maintain a healthy, moist nose. Their noses may get crusty or cracked and become uncomfortable. Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boxers, and other brachycephalic dogs may benefit from nose balm or prescription lotions to help moisten their noses.

Lhasa Apsos and some spaniel breeds may also have drier noses than other breeds because they may experience blocked tear ducts.

A Dry Nose Isn’t Necessarily Cause for Concern

golden retriever nose
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There are many reasons why dogs have dry noses, and not all of them are cause for concern. Most dogs will experience a dry nose from time to time due to dehydration, weather, sleep, allergies, or age. Some dog breeds are simply more prone to dry noses than others.

If you’re worried that your dog’s dry nose may be a sign of illness, take your dog to the vet for evaluation. Your veterinarian can explain whether the dry nose is a cause for concern and can give your dog treatment in the case of allergies, illness, or severely dried or sunburnt skin.

Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.