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6 Reasons for a Dry Dog Nose

There are times when you should worry about a dog’s dry nose, but most of the time you don’t have to be too concerned.

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This pet health content was reviewed for accuracy by a veterinarian, Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS. It was last reviewed and updated on June 10, 2024

If you have questions or concerns, call your vet, who is best equipped to ensure the health and well-being of your pet. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See additional information.

dry dog nose image
Dry dog nose? Learn why here. Photo: MacKinnon Photography/Flickr

Many people worry that their dog’s nose is too dry, too wet, too warm, or too cool. We worry when something is different or “off” about a dry dog nose.

There are times when you will need to worry about a dry nose — and times when you don’t need to be too concerned about it.

Understanding Why a Dog’s Nose is Usually Wet

A dog’s nose is typically wet because it helps them cool down and enhances their sense of smell. The wetness comes from mucus produced inside the nose, which captures scent particles, and from the dog licking its nose, keeping it moist. This moisture aids in the detection of scents and regulates their body temperature, preventing a dry dog nose.

6 Reasons for a Dry Dog Nose

1. The nose naturally gets dry during sleep.

A lot of people worry that their dog’s nasal membrane is dry when the pet wakes up from a nap. But this is normal and usually does not indicate a dry dog nose.

When your dog sleeps, they stop licking at their nose. This stops the constant flow of moisture to the nasal area. Within 10 minutes after your dog wakes up, that nose should be right back to its usual wet self.

2. Your dog is too close to the heat.

During the colder months, dogs (like cats) love to sleep close to heating vents and ducts. They find comfy spots with the warm air blowing on their faces.

However, being too close to heating sources can cause a dry dog nose. It can also make the nose cracked.

Just watch to be sure the snout goes back to its moist state. If it doesn’t, a dab of petroleum jelly may do the trick.

3. Your dog is allergic to something.

Dogs with allergies tend to have a dry dog nose. Humans experience this, too.

Your veterinarian can help you gain control of the allergies. Quite a few prescription medications can relieve the dryness. Once again, you can consider using a dab of petroleum jelly to keep the nose moist and prevent cracking.

Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM, suggests that rubbing on shea butter or coconut oil might work. We have heard that ChapStick can suffice, or even a little olive oil.

4. The nose is irritated by plastic food/water bowls.

One of the biggest causes of dry noses in dogs is a problem with plastic, such as in food and water bowls. Nearly half of dogs are said to have some form of allergic reaction to plastic.

Most people who are dealing with this problem simply eliminate plastics from the dog’s environment. Your dog should eat out of stainless steel or ceramic bowls. These eliminate potential allergy problems help prevent a dry dog nose, and are a cinch to clean and keep sterile.

You can opt for toys that are made of hard rubber (such as KONG toys) as opposed to plastic, which will help.

5. The dog has sunburn on the nose.

All too many people have no idea their dogs can get sunburn on their noses.

Think about it: If you were out in the sun a lot, you would be burned up, too. You need to protect your pet from UV damage and avoid a dry dog nose as well as potentially getting skin cancer.

Sunblock is the key to keeping your dog’s nose back to normal. It’s essential that you use a sunblock designed for pets or for human infants. These will be nontoxic.

With pet-safe sunblock, you’ll no longer have to worry about your dog being uncomfortable with a dried-out, sunburned nose.

Why does my dog have a dry nose?
Dogs lick their noses throughout the day, but clearly they can’t do that while they’re sleeping. Photo: patdavid

6. The dog hasn’t been drinking enough water.

When a dog doesn’t have enough fluids taken into their body, they become dehydrated, leading to a dry dog nose.

This could be a real issue because the dry nose can crack — but also the kidneys and other body systems could become compromised, shut down, and cause the dog to go into shock. It’s important that you keep a fresh supply of clean water for your dog at all times.

Chronic dry nose, or a nose that has scabbing or sores, should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention.

What to Do for a Dry Dog Nose

If you notice your dog has a dry dog nose, there are several steps you can take to address it and ensure your pet’s comfort:

  • Ensure Proper Hydration: Make sure your dog stays well-hydrated by providing fresh, clean water at all times. Dehydration is a common cause of a dry nose.
  • Apply Moisturizer: Consider applying a pet-safe moisturizer, such as coconut oil or shea butter, to the nose to help maintain moisture and prevent cracking.
  • Manage Environmental Factors: If your dog’s nose is dry due to environmental factors like heat or sunburn, try to minimize their exposure to these elements. Use a pet-safe sunscreen if necessary.
  • Consult Your Veterinarian: If the dryness persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Regular check-ups and a balanced diet can also contribute to the overall health and moisture of your dog’s nose. By following these steps, you can help keep your dog’s nose healthy and comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is my dog nose dry?

A dry dog nose can result from various factors including dehydration, allergies, or environmental conditions.

What does a dry nose on a dog mean?

A dry dog nose might indicate dehydration, sunburn, or an underlying health issue, but it can also be normal at times.

What to do for a dry nose on a dog?

To address a dry dog nose, ensure proper hydration, apply a pet-safe moisturizer, and consult a vet if necessary.

Why does my dog have a dry nose?

Your dog may have a dry dog nose due to sleeping, dehydration, allergies, or exposure to heat sources.

How to treat dry, crusty dog nose?

To treat a dry, crusty dog nose, gently clean the area and apply a pet-safe moisturizer like coconut oil or shea butter.