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A cold, wet nose means a healthy pup. That wet nose is part of the reason why dogs have an amazing sense of smell –10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than ours. The wet nose draws in tiny particles to be examined by a dog’s olfactory glands. The thin layer of mucus on dogs’ noses holds and absorbs scents and when a dog licks its nose, that adds the sense of taste to its sensory information. Should you be concerned if your dog has a dry nose? Although sometimes it can signal something serious, most of the time it’s a normal reaction to the environment or typical for the dog’s age or breed.

Common Reasons your Dog’s Nose is Dry

Your dog’s nose is dry while he’s sleeping. This happens simply because your dog is not licking his nose while he’s asleep. His nose should be wet again within 10 minutes of waking up.

Winter is tough on a dog’s nose. Do you ever wake up with a dry, scratchy throat during the winter months? That’s probably due to the flow of warm air from heating vents. Warm airflow can have the same effect on a dog’s nose. Has your pup been sleeping right next to a vent to keep warm? That warm air can dry out his nose and things should return to normal once he moves away from the heat source.

Along with indoor heating, the cold air and winds of winter also cause a dry nose. Think of how dry and chapped your lips get when you’re outdoors in winter. That’s similar to what happens to a dog’s nose.

Older dogs may have drier noses.  If you notice this as your dog ages, a dab of nose balm will help keep his nose moist.

Brachycephalic breeds are prone to dry nose. Dogs with short snouts, like Pugs and Bulldogs, often have difficulty licking their nose. You may have to apply moisturizer to keep it moist. Other breeds, Lhasa Apsos, for example, are prone to blocked tears ducts, which can also cause the nose to dry out.

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Conditions or Illnesses that can Cause a Dog’s Dry Nose

Allergies can a cause dry nose. Dogs can have allergies just like humans, and one of the symptoms is a dry nose. Talk to your veterinarian about determining the cause of the allergy and getting a prescription allergy medication to relieve your dog’s dry nose.

A dry nose can be a sign of sunburn. Some breeds, especially those with thin coats or pink or pale nose and eyelids are especially susceptible to sunburn. But even thick-coated breeds aren’t immune. This is especially prevalent in the summer months. Use a sunscreen to protect your pet.

Dehydration causes a dry nose. This could be the result of strenuous exercise, especially in hot summer weather. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of cool, fresh water. Stay alert to other signs of dehydration; you may need to consult your vet.

Dry nose is sometimes a sign of an auto-immune disease. Although this isn’t the first thing to think of when your dog’s nose is dry, discoid lupus erythematosus or pemphigus – both auto-immune diseases – can cause a dog’s nose to dry out, crust, and crack.

Most of the time, a dry nose is just a dry nose. If it’s chronic and your veterinarian sees no signs of allergies or disease, you may need to use a prescription lotion or balm to keep his nose moist. Because dogs lick their noses so often, whatever you use should be safe to eat. The nose is a dog’s chief sensory source of information and you want to keep it in top working order.

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