Staci is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing, she spends most of her time trying to keep up with her four rescue cats and Australian shepherd puppy.
Health Learn About Dogs

Why Are Dogs’ Noses Wet?

Sep 7 ·

Why are dogs’ noses wet? If you’ve ever had a dog — or ever even interacted with one — it’s quite possibly a question you’ve asked. When a dog is nudging you for attention, you’ll notice. Or you might be petting them and when they tilt their head up to boop you with their nose, it’s hard to miss it. Their nose is cold and wet to the touch! 

So why is that exactly? It’s not as if humans have wet, cold noses, so why do dogs?

Why Are Dogs’ Noses Wet?

why are dogs noses wet

A dog has a wet nose because scent sticks better to a moist surface. Therefore, the nose secretes mucus that clings to the nose in a thin layer and it helps them to smell more. Dogs can smell between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than a human! That means they need a lot of help to make that so.

Their noses also work as a cooling mechanism, and can keep them at a good temperature if they get too hot. 

It’s also important to remember that dogs explore the world with their noses. Sometimes, their noses are wet because they push up against things! Your dog is often burrowing through the grass and dirt, and will come away with a wet nose as a result.

In truth, those wet noses are a combination of factors. 

Are They Always Wet?

No, dogs’ noses aren’t always wet. Some people assume that a dog’s nose should always be very wet and if you feel their nose is dry, then something is wrong. Often, however, dogs’ noses are wet at certain points and dry at others. 

Some dogs also have a naturally more dry nose, so it’s important to keep an eye on your dog and check what’s normal for them. That’s a better way to tell if something is wrong — if it’s out of the ordinary for your dog. 

Help! My Dog’s Nose Is Unusually Dry

why are dogs noses wet

First off, don’t panic. If you happened to touch your dog’s nose and felt it was dry for a second but your dog has no symptoms of sickness, they’re likely fine. Contrary to popular belief, dogs’ noses aren’t always wet, so don’t worry if it feels occasionally dry. 

However, if you notice that it’s dry for a prolonged period of time, there could be something wrong. Keep an eye on your dog for other symptoms of sickness such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Withdrawal
  • Shaking
  • Aggression
  • Clear pain or discomfort
  • Panting

The truth is, while a dry nose can indicate sickness, it’s not a very good one because it can mean a whole host of things. There’s likely no point in rushing your dog to the vet because their nose has been a little dry that day. However, it can be a supporting indicator of sickness so if you do notice something wrong with your dog, take them to the vet. This is especially true if it’s in combination with a dry nose. 

This is also true if the nose isn’t just dry, but cracked or painful looking. That’s more extreme than a slightly dry nose, and often does warrant medical attention. It’s a bit of a judgment call, but if you’re ever unsure, you can call your vet with a description and ask. 

What Else To Consider

What could actually be a better indicator of sickness is an overly wet nose. While dogs secret mucus naturally and that thin layer is usually present, there shouldn’t be a lot of it. If your dog’s nose is visibly running and there’s a lot of liquid, they might have an upper respiratory infection. 

If your dog has discharge from their nose and it’s tinged with blood, see your veterinarian immediately. This is a potential sign of something serious, such as cancer, so your dog should get checked out immediately. Bloody discharge is not normal. 

Staci is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing, she spends most of her time trying to keep up with her four rescue cats and Australian shepherd puppy.
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