Why Are Dogs Noses Wet? Is It A Sickness Symptom?


Dogs, unlike humans, have wet noses. Although most pet owners know that a wet nose is a good and normal thing, they rarely bother finding out why is that so. The nose is the main sensory organ that dogs rely on. The wetness serves a purpose as well. Why are dogs’ noses wet?

Dogs use their noses like humans use their eyes. Smelling helps dogs explore and get to know the environment they are in. Dogs recognize people and objects by smelling. Their noses secrete mucus that allows for scent particles to stick to the nose. Dogs also lick their noses so they stay moist. 

The answer is quite simple but it doesn’t explain a lot. So, let’s explain how dogs’ noses work. The next time you see your dog sniffing something strange, you will understand it better.

Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses

Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses

The ability of dogs to find and recognize scents is just amazing. Far better than the ability we have. That’s why dogs mostly rely on their noses. They can’t see well because they are near-sighted and recognize shades of two colors.

Although dogs are able to hear pretty well, even sounds that humans can’t register. But they have trouble pinpointing the location of the sound, etc… They have ear flaps as well, these block out some sounds.

That’s why for dogs, the ultimate sensory organ is the nose. It’s nothing new that dogs can smell far better than humans. They have up to 100 million sensory receptors in their noses. This allows them to capture scents that we can’t.

More so, the part of the brain responsible for registering scents is really big in dogs. Although they have smaller brains than us, the previously mentioned part is way bigger in dogs. [Source]

Dogs have some special abilities that help them recognize odors. They can focus each nostril on a certain scent, allowing them to smell and register two odors at the same time. The scents also stick in the nostrils, allowing them to inhale the scent several times.

Dogs have special glands in their nose, these glands produce mucus that keeps the nose canals wet. The wetter nose helps with scents sticking to the nostrils and keeping the dog cool. 

They also understand that having a wet and cold nose helps with scents and cooling. So, dogs will intentionally wet their nose by licking them.

This is where the wet noses come in. How their nostrils are built combined with the moist nose makes sure that scents stick to their noses for quite some time. This comes in handy when trying to locate an object or a person in the environment. Dogs can’t see far so following scents helps them come closer to investigate.

What Does It Mean When A Dog’s Nose Is Dry

What Does It Mean When A Dog's Nose Is Dry

All of this begs the question: Are dry noses bad for dogs? Every dog owner surely has noticed their dog with a dry nose at least once. Since, normally, a dog’s nose should be wet, most people think that a dry dog nose is necessarily bad.

Although dry noses can be alarming, that is not always the case. Dogs do not always have wet noses. The sweat glands are not always keeping the nose wet. So, if the dog doesn’t decide to lick its nose, then it will be dry. [Source]

This usually happens when the dog is resting and has no use for its sense of smell, it won’t lick its nose. You can see that your dog’s nose is dry while it’s sleeping because it’s not licking it.

Should I Be Worried About My Dog’s Dry Nose

Now, a dry and warm nose sometimes means that your dog has a high body temperature. So, that’s not desirable. But a dry nose doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog is sick. As I already explained above, the nose is sometimes dry and that’s just it.

You should be worried about your dog’s wet nose when it’s dry and all cracked up. The nose will also be warm. But the most obvious sign that your dog is sick is the fact that it won’t be feeling well. Also, when a dog has a high body temperature its ears are burning up more than the nose. Maybe check that as well.

If your dog is looking well, it’s eating, and it’s doing everything without any problems, you shouldn’t worry about the dry nose. Some breeds have a wetter nose, others a drier nose.

[Related Article: Everything You Need To Know About Dogs Panting Today]

Should I Be Worried About My Dog’s Runny Nose

There is a difference between a wet nose and a runny nose. I’ve seen pet owners going to the vet for a runny nose. Should a dog’s runny nose worry you as a pet parent?

It depends on if the runny nose is persistent, and how runny it is. Sometimes, the glands will produce more mucus than it’s necessary. So, a dog’s nose will be runny. Also, dogs tend to sniff liquids on the ground, like wet grass.

In these situations, the runny nose is nothing serious, and you shouldn’t be worried.

A persistent runny nose is a sign of illness. And if your dog constantly has a runny nose and it’s not feeling well, you need to take him to the vet.

[Related Article: 10 Signs That Your Dog Is Crying For Help Or Under Distress]

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Can You Put Vaseline On Dogs Nose

Petroleum-based vaseline should not be used on dogs. Although small doses are not toxic, big amounts of petroleum can be dangerous for dogs. You can put non-petroleum vaseline on a dog’s nose as long as it doesn’t have any chemicals that will cause skin or a respiratory infection.

How Can You Tell If A Dog Is Running A Fever

There are several signs that dogs exhibit when they are running a fever. First of all, the dog’s nose and ears will be warm. The nose may be runny or all cracked up and dry. The dog will not be looking well, it will not have enough energy, and it will not have an appetite.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

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