1. Home
  2. insider picks
  3. news
  4. 6 reasons why your dogs' nose is dry and when to be concerned

6 reasons why your dogs' nose is dry and when to be concerned

Madeline Kennedy,Sorin McKnight   

6 reasons why your dogs' nose is dry and when to be concerned
  • Dehydration from exercise or illness could cause your dog to have a dry nose.
  • A dry nose could also be caused by a fever from an infected tooth or ear.

A wet nose is often a sign of good health in your dog. It helps your dog smell and can keep them cool. If your dog's nose is dry to the touch, it can signal an issue like dehydration or fever, but in many cases, a dry nose is nothing to worry about.

Here are six reasons why your dog's nose may be dry and when you should see a vet.

1. They just woke up

Dog noses are usually wet — this happens for two main reasons:

1. The inside lining of a dog's nose secretes mucus that helps keep the nose moist.

2. Dogs frequently lick their own noses, leaving behind some saliva.

When your dog wakes up in the morning, their nose may be dry, "likely because they are not actively licking their noses at night," says Dr. Lara Sypniewski, a veterinarian and professor of small animal medicine at Oklahoma State University.

Your dog may also develop a dry nose if they take a long nap during the day.

2. They've experienced harsh weather

Your dog's nose may also dry out when it's exposed to harsh weather conditions. Being outside in very sunny, dry, or windy weather can make the nose lose moisture more easily and possibly cause irritation or sunburn.

"Just like human skin, dogs rely on humidity too – cold, dry winters are tough on all of our skin," Sypniewski says.

Your dog's nose may also get dried out indoors if they sleep too close to a vent or heating source.

3. They're dehydrated

When your dog is dehydrated, any mucus-producing parts of their body may dry out — including their nose, says Dr. Alison Meindl, a veterinarian and professor at Colorado State University.

This can easily happen if your dog is running or doing vigorous exercise and doesn't have water available to drink.

You can also see if your dog is dehydrated by checking if their gums are moist — dry gums are a sign that your dog needs more water.

4. They have a fever

A dry nose can be a sign that your dog has a fever, but this isn't a hard and fast rule — it's possible for the nose to stay wet and cool even if they have a high temperature.

A dog's body temperature is slightly higher than a human's — a normal temperature ranges from 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit, compared to humans, who stay at an average of 98.6 °F.

If your dog's body temperature rises above 103 °F, this is considered a fever, while a temperature of 106 °F is considered dangerous and possibly fatal.

Your dog's fever may be a sign of a bacterial or viral infection like:

  • An infected bite or cut
  • An infected tooth
  • An ear infection
  • A urinary tract infection

If your dog's nose is warm and dry, and they have symptoms like red eyes, shivering, and loss of appetite, it's important to check your dog's temperature for a fever.

It's best to check their temperature with a rectal thermometer — the Carolina Veterinary Specialists offer these instructions for how to do it:

1. With clean hands, lubricate the tip of the thermometer with petroleum or a water-soluble lubricant.

2. Lift your dog's tail up and to the side to expose the anus. If they won't let you do this, try to distract them with peanut butter or treats.

3. Gently insert the thermometer about an inch into your dog's rectum.

4. You may need to have a second person hold your dog's hind legs to prevent them from sitting.

5. Once the temperature registers and the device beeps, you can remove the thermometer.

6. Clean your hands and the thermometer.

If your dog has a fever, it's best to bring them to the vet as soon as possible for treatment.

5. They have nasal hyperkeratosis

Nasal hyperkeratosis happens when your dog's body overproduces the protein keratin, which causes the skin on their nose to thicken and become very dry and rough.

Eventually, nasal hyperkeratosis can lead to the nasal skin cracking and developing infections.

"Nasal hyperkeratosis can occur in any dog, but some breeds are overrepresented," Sypniewski says. Some breeds that are at greater risk include:

  • Labrador retrievers
  • French Mastiff
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Irish terrier

Older dogs may also be at greater risk of nasal hyperkeratosis, because nose skin naturally thickens as dogs age.

6. They have an autoimmune disease

In rare cases, a dry nose can be a sign that your dog has an autoimmune disorder like Lupus or Pemphigus.

Pemphigus is a chronic skin condition that can cause nose dryness along with other symptoms like:

  • Crustiness of the nose and nostrils
  • Lost hair on the bridge of the nose
  • Pustules and skin ulcers

Your vet can help treat pemphigus using medications like corticosteroids and immunosuppressants.

Lupus erythematosus is another chronic condition that can trigger dryness in your dog's nose. It may also cause symptoms including:

  • Crustiness of the nose and nostrils
  • Spots of lost pigment on the nose
  • Nose may have an unusually smooth texture
  • Scabbing

Your vet may treat lupus with steroid creams or immunosuppressant medications. It's also important to keep your dog out of the sun as much as possible – ultraviolet light can worsen the condition.

When to see a vet

"Although a dry nose is common, there are diseases that can occur on the nose that are painful and concerning," Sypniewski says.

It's best to bring your dog to the vet if your dog's nasal dryness comes with:

  • Erosions or ulcers
  • Crusting
  • Hair loss
  • Nose color loss
  • Unusually droopy eyes, lips, or ears
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

"Veterinarians will complete a dermatologic examination, evaluate other areas of the body including the eyes and feet," Sypniewski says, which can help determine if your dog has an infection or autoimmune condition.

Insider's takeaway

A dry nose by itself is usually not a reason to worry — your dog may just be thirsty or have come in from a windy walk.

But if you see other new symptoms along with a dry nose, like scabs or loss of appetite, it could be a sign of something more serious like an infection.

"If owners are concerned about the appearance of their dog's nose, they should have them evaluated by their veterinarian," Meindl says.


Popular Right Now