Dog Dry Nose: Should You Worry?

We’ve all been surprised by a wet dog nose waking us up from our sleep or startling us when we aren’t paying attention. But what does it mean if your dog’s nose is dry? Is it something you should worry about? Not necessarily. Let’s talk about dog dry nose and when it’s something you should worry about.

How Do Dogs Use Their Noses, and Why Are Dog Noses Usually Wet?

Sure, dogs use their noses to breathe and investigate scents. However, dog noses are also one of the only places on your dog’s body that has sweat glands (the other is their paw pads). Dog noses also drain excessive fluid from the tear ducts. Additionally, the nose is also usually covered in a thin layer of mucus.

These things help moisten your dog’s nose. In turn, that moisture collects scent particles, which your dog licks off and transfers to a special scent gland on the roof of their mouth. Licking their nose helps keep it moist to collect more scents.

Common Reasons for Dog Dry Nose

There are many reasons your dog’s nose could be dry, and most of those reasons are harmless. Here are some of the most common reasons dogs sometimes have dry noses.


You probably experience dry skin or chapped lips during the winter. That may be due to the heat blowing through your house or the cold air blowing outside. Those same factors can cause your dog’s nose to dry out in the winter. If your dog’s nose starts to get dry the same time of year as you break out the lotion and lip balm for yourself, then it’s probably nothing to worry about.


One way that dogs keep their nose moist is by licking it, which they don’t do while they’re sleeping. It’s normal that your dog’s nose might dry out when they sleep. Within 10 minutes of waking up and a few licks, their nose should be moist again.

Short Snout

Brachycephalic dog breeds (those with short snouts) like Pugs and Bulldogs may have a hard time licking their nose properly, which can cause a chronic dry nose. Your vet may recommend a dog-safe lotion or balm for your dog if they have this problem.


Some dogs develop dry noses as a result of aging. If your vet has ruled out other causes, ask them which dog-safe balm or lotion you can use to help moisten your pup’s nose.

Blocked Tear Ducts

Since tear drainage is one cause of a wet nose, then blocked tear ducts could contribute to a dry nose. Some breeds, like Lhasa Apsos, are more prone to blocked tear ducts than other breeds.

Should I Be Concerned that My Dog’s Nose Is Dry?

A dry dog nose can be a symptom that something is seriously wrong with your pup. Here are some illnesses and conditions that can cause dog dry nose.


Dogs can have environmental or food allergies, just like people. If your dog has other symptoms like itching, hives, chronic ear infections, or digestive issues, you should talk to the vet about the possibility that your dog is struggling with allergies of some type.

Auto-Immune Disease

Lupus and other auto-immune diseases can cause your dog to have a dry nose. If your dog has any other skin or fur changes, unexpected weight gain, or other symptoms, your vet may recommend blood tests to check for an auto-immune disease.

Severe Dehydration

If your dog has a dry nose after a long walk on a hot summer day, it could be a symptom of dehydration. Check your dog’s gums – they should be bright pink and damp. If they are pale or tacky, your dog may be suffering from severe dehydration, which can be fatal. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog is dehydrated.


You may be surprised to learn that dogs can get sunburns, too. Dogs with pink noses are more likely to suffer sunburns than those with black noses. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, especially if they have a pink nose or short or thin fur, be sure to apply a dog-safe sunscreen every day to help protect them.

Skin Disorder

Various skin disorders can cause a dry, cracked nose. If your dog has dry, itchy, red, or flaky skin, it’s time for a trip to the vet to search for the underlying cause.

Odd-Colored Mucus

While odd-colored mucus isn’t a condition, it can be a sign that your dog is seriously ill. The mucus on your dog’s nose should be clear – if it’s any other color, then it’s time for a trip to the vet.

What if My Dog Has a Runny Nose?

A runny nose can be a symptom of anything from allergies to a cold to an upper respiratory infection. If your dog’s nose seems a little TOO wet, you should probably get them checked out by their veterinarian.

Dog Dry Nose Treatment

Since dogs lick their noses so frequently, you can’t just apply any lotion you have lying around your house, because it could poison your dog when they lick it. If your dog’s nose is dry or cracked, ask your vet which dog-safe lotion or balm you should use and how often you should apply it.

Final Thoughts

While a dry dog nose is often nothing to worry about, it can be a sign that something is wrong with your pup. It’s never a bad idea to take them to the vet to look for an underlying health condition that could be causing their dry nose. Never apply human lotion or balm to your dog’s nose, since it could make them sick.

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