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Dogs’ noses, like their tongues, can tell us a lot about their health. A cold, wet nose is a common trait of a healthy dog — but what if your dog’s nose is dry? In this article, we’ll cover what a healthy dog nose looks like, common causes of dry noses in dogs, how to treat your pup’s dry nose, and when you should contact your veterinarian.
A healthy dog's nose should be cold and moist. It shouldn’t drip excessively or have any discharge from your dog’s nostrils. If your dog's nose is warm, it may be a sign of a fever or infection.³ It’s wise to make a mental note of what your dog’s nose normally feels like so that you can catch any changes or abnormalities that occur. If your dog’s nose is typically dry, take note if it ever begins to look painful or cracked.
Often a dry nose is just a temporary side effect of an environmental change like hot weather or allergies.⁴ But since a dry nose can also be a symptom of some serious conditions, it’s wise to try deducing the cause and monitor your dog’s health. Look for any additional symptoms, such as fatigue or loss of appetite, that accompany a dry nose. These symptoms could help lead you toward a possible diagnosis and could be beneficial information to give to your vet if your furry friend’s nose continues to stay dry.
There can be several causes of dry noses in dogs, but we’ve narrowed down some of the most common reasons your dog’s nose isn’t as wet as it should be.
Sunburn is a common culprit for dry noses in dogs because the skin of your pup’s nose and snout are delicate. Since the hair on the muzzle is usually thinner, it doesn’t protect their skin from sunburn. Dogs with light-colored coats and noses without pigmentation are particularly susceptible to sunburn.
If your dog’s nose is sunburned, it will be dry and the skin may be cracked. You’ll likely see signs of sunburn on other parts of your dog, including their ears and belly.
A dry nose may also be a symptom that your dog is severely dehydrated. If this is the case, there will be other symptoms, like lethargy, and their skin may lose elasticity. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, contact your veterinarian as dehydration can be a sign of other underlying illnesses and conditions.
Sometimes an autoimmune disease or disorder can lead to a dry nose in dogs. Examples of these conditions include lupus and pemphigus (a skin disorder). Sometimes these autoimmune disorders will cause dogs to develop sores, cracked skin, or crusty scabs around the nose.
It’s not uncommon for senior dogs to have dry noses. When dogs are sleeping, their noses dry out because they aren’t licking them regularly to moisten them. So since many senior dogs take extended naps, it’s not surprising that their noses are commonly on the dry side.
Dry noses are prevalent in certain dog breeds, particularly brachycephalic breeds. Because of the compact shape of their snouts, it’s harder for breeds like pugs and American bulldogs to lick their noses to moisten them.
A dry nose is a common symptom of allergies. Determining your dog’s allergen can be tricky, as there are so many potential culprits, such as food, cleaning products, and outdoor elements that could be impacting your dog’s nose. If your family moved to a new area or you’ve changed your dog’s typical environment, your pup’s dry nose or itchy paws might be an allergic reaction.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog’s dry nose is causing them discomfort or is accompanied by other symptoms, including but not limited to:
● Runny nose
● Pale gums
● Inflamed skin
Your vet will be able to help you treat the dry nose and alleviate your dog’s discomfort as well as help you determine if there is an underlying health issue. While a dry nose isn’t a severe condition most of the time, it can be painful for your pup if it persists. Don’t be afraid to seek veterinary help to alleviate your dog’s symptoms.
In many cases, your dog’s nose can be treated with some simple products. There are several nose balms and moisturizing products on the market to soothe dry and cracked noses. You should never put moisturizers meant for humans on your dog’s nose as they may contain toxic ingredients. Since dogs lick their noses frequently, they can easily ingest these toxins and become sick.
If you’re unsure which product is best for your dog, don’t be afraid to seek advice from your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to guide you toward the most effective treatment for your pup's specific needs. If your dog’s nose is chronically dry, your vet may also prescribe a particular type of lotion to help moisten their snout.
Figuring out why your dog’s nose is dry can be tricky, but you shouldn’t panic. A dry dog nose is a common concern that can be treated by making sure your dog stays hydrated, wears sunscreen on hot days, and is adequately moisturized.
Chat with your vet if dryness becomes a chronic issue for your pup’s nose. Consider investing in a dog insurance policy with MetLife to cover prescriptions and visits like these.¹,²
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
¹ Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
² Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
³ “Fever in Dogs: Causes, Signs, and Treatment,” American Kennel Club
⁴ “Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatment,” American Kennel Club