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Is Dry Nose a Sign of Illness in Dogs?

How Dogs Use Their Nose

The way dogs utilize their noses is quite remarkable. Not only do they use them for breathing, but they also have tear ducts that help drain excessive tears from their eyes. Furthermore, their noses contain sweat glands which aid in regulating body temperature through sweating.

Moreover, a dog’s nose plays a crucial role in gathering information about their surroundings. This is primarily done through sniffing, but interestingly, not all the gathered information travels through the nasal passage. When a dog licks its nose, it transfers a variety of scents to specialized olfactory glands located on the roof of the mouth. This process allows the dog to analyze its environment effectively.

Next time you observe your dog deeply engrossed in sniffing something, take notice of how it sniffs repeatedly before licking its nose. This action transfers vital information about other animals such as dogs, cats, squirrels, or any other creatures that may have left behind a “scent mail” for them to interpret.

Does a Warm, Dry Nose Mean a Dog is Sick?

Clients often inquire whether a warm and dry nose in their dog indicates illness. I typically explain that this isn’t necessarily the case. Some dogs naturally have dry noses because they don’t lick them often. However, there are instances where a warm and dry nose could be linked to a fever, although it can be tricky to determine. For example, a dog with the flu might have a warm, dry nose, or it could be wet and runny.

Additionally, dogs may excessively lick their noses due to various reasons such as neurological conditions like partial seizures, heightened anxiety, behavioral signals of submission (such as licking their muzzles), or allergies causing itchiness in the nose.

If your dog appears unwell, feels warm to the touch, is excessively licking its nose, and/or is experiencing coughing or sneezing, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly to identify and address the underlying issue.

Diseases That Can Cause Dry Nose in Dogs

Certain diseases can result in a persistently dry nose in dogs. Autoimmune conditions like lupus or pemphigus, for instance, can cause alterations in the nose’s surface, leading to dryness, cracking, and even bleeding.

Diagnosing autoimmune disorders typically involves blood and urine tests, along with a nose biopsy. Treatment often involves immunosuppressive medications like prednisone.

Furthermore, severe allergic reactions to substances like pollen, mold, or certain foods can cause redness and swelling of the nose, prompting excessive rubbing and scratching of the face. Allergies can be managed with antihistamines, while more severe cases may require steroid medications.

Dry Nose from Sunburn and Face Shape in Dogs

Prolonged sun exposure, particularly in dogs with pink skin, can lead to sunburn on the nose, resulting in peeling and cracking of the skin.

Additionally, certain dog breeds, notably brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs, may struggle to lick their noses effectively due to the shape of their skulls. Consequently, these dogs often develop a rough, crusty, chalky, and uncomfortable nose, replacing the once cute little black button that adorned their face.


For dogs with a persistently dry nose, a prescription lotion formulated to moisturize and nourish the nose skin could be beneficial.

Given that dogs tend to lick their noses, it’s crucial to use a lotion that is safe for ingestion. Most over-the-counter skin lotions are not intended for ingestion, which is why I advise against using them unless your veterinarian has expressly recommended it. If you observe any changes in your dog’s nose skin appearance, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to explore diagnostic and treatment options.

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