Wet noses and healthy dogs

That cold, wet nose against your skin can still surprise you, right?

You may also find yourself cleaning glass surfaces of “nose prints” a lot of times.

But have you ever wondered why a dog’s nose  is always wet?

Noses of younger dogs  are more moist. Senior dogs produce less mucus, thus their noses  are not as wet as that of a young dog.
Noses of younger dogs  are more moist. Senior dogs produce less mucus, thus their noses  are not as wet as that of a young dog. 
The liquid on your dog’s nose is a mixture of saliva and mucus, said  Megan Sullivan in “Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?” in

Sullivan, citing Dr. Anita Guo, a veterinarian at the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in London, explained that “A dog’s nose secretes its own, thin layer of mucus, and dogs add even more mucus and saliva by licking their noses frequently.”

“The details may be a little icky, but having a wet nose serves a few vital functions for dogs,” Sullivan said.

Functions of a wet nose

1. A nose that is moist helps a dog regulate his body temperature, says Guo.  “ Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like we do, so they rely on sweat glands in their noses and the pads of their feet to help maintain a safe internal temperature,” Sullivan said.

2. Dogs cool down their body using the moisture of the nose. The same also helps them evaporate heat.

3. A dog’s wet nose contributes to a dog’s incredible sense of smell. “When dogs inhale, tiny scent particles floating in the air get trapped in their nose mucus. This helps them to break down and interpret odors,” Guo explained.

4. Dogs lick their noses to help themselves “smell” more deeply. “When a dog licks his nose, his tongue picks up some of the scent particles trapped in his nose’s mucus. He then touches his tongue to an olfactory  gland called the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of his mouth....which gives him an even more nuanced reading of the chemical compounds that make up odors,” Sullivan stressed.

“Their sense of smell is obviously much, much better than humans’ and we think this is the reason why,” Guo said.

The dry nose

Some people  may tell you a dry nose means the dog is sick.

This is not true, said Sullivan.

It is just an “old wives’ tale” that a dry nose  is not normal, she said.

There are many reasons a dog’s nose is dry, said Guo:

1. The dog had a long sleep and was thus not able to lick his nose.

2. The dog slept in a warm room with low humidity levels which made the nose dry.

“Before you run to the vet, Guo recommends waiting to see if the dog’s nose becomes moist again as the day goes on,” Sullivan said.

3. Certain breeds of dogs have drier noses.

“In my experience, most brachycephalics [dogs with short snouts like Bulldogs and Pugs] have slightly drier noses. I think that’s just because they’re less able to lick their noses,” Guo said.

4. Older dogs lose  nose moisture as they age because they produce less mucus.

When to bring  your dog to a vet

A dry nose alone is not cause for worry.

But there are certain nose conditions that should prompt an owner to bring the dog to the vet immediately.

1. Any change in the color of the nose.

2. If there is any bleeding, cracking, scaling.

3. If there are lumps and bumps around the muzzle or face or nose.

4. If the dog has a dry nose, AND is acting sick or behaving in a different or unusual manner.

 “If the dog’s having a nosebleed, we definitely want to see the dog, especially if it happens quite often,” Guo said.

“Bottom line, if you notice any changes in the nose’s appearance, or changes in your dog’s behavior accompanied by a dry nose, you should always err on the side of caution and get your dog checked out,” Sullivan said.

If the dog has a dry nose but looks normal and healthy, there is no need to go to the vet. Observe your dog first.

“Obviously, the usual, wet-nosed dog is good, but if they do have a dry nose, it’s not the end of the world. I don’t want owners to worry if the nose is dry, unless there are other signs,” Guo said.

Topics: Wet noses , dogs

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