"My dog must be sick, his nose is dry!" How many times have I heard that one.  What is the truth about our pooches’ noses?  

dog nose

Firstly, a little anatomy—there are two types of tissue on a dog’s body that are similar to each other, but unlike any other tissue on their bodies.  Any guesses? Well, if you guessed their nose and the pads of their feet, you’re right.  What is unique to this tissue is that it is the only tissue on the body that has eccrine sweat glands, so the moistness comes from the sweat. Since dogs can only release excess heat from their nose and pads to help regulate their temperature, they compensate to assist in heat regulation by panting.  An important fact to know is that dogs’ noses have 40 to 50 times the nasal receptors that we have, and a wet nose works better that a dry nose since scent molecules adhere better to a moist nose. Another way that dogs can keep their noses moist is by licking them!

Though it is true that most healthy dogs will have a wet nose, a dry nose does not mean they are sick. A healthy dog’s nose might be warm and dry when they are sleeping---for one thing, they usually aren’t licking their nose while sleeping.  Another reason might be after running or playing which can dehydrate them.  Exposure to the outdoor elements-heat, wind, excessive cold, or even lying near a heater or a fireplace can dry out a dog’s nose.  Finally, in some dogs—noses dry out with age!  

dog nose

Sick dogs, however, often have dry noses due to fever, dehydration, or poor nutrition, so if your dog has a dry nose and also has other signs of illness like vomiting , diarrhea, lethargy, or a poor appetite, it’s time to see your veterinarian!

To sum it up: A healthy dog will usually have a cold, wet nose, but can have a dry nose as well, while a sick dog will most often have a warm dry nose, but don’t be fooled as some sick dogs can have a cool, wet nose. So, when to worry?  When your dog has a warm dry nose, and isn’t feeling well.  If his nose is warm and dry, but is otherwise doing well, don’t sweat it!! (pun intended).