Have you ever wondered, why are dogs’ noses wet?
If you’re a dog owner, or simply love dogs, you may have noticed that all your canine companions have wet noses, which is an abnormal trait in most other animals.
However, it does play a vital and healthy role in their physical makeup.
What if your dog’s nose isn’t wet? How wet should it be?
Here we break down all you need to know.
Why Are Dogs Noses Always Wet?
No matter their size or breed, all dogs secrete a thin layer of mucus on their nose that helps to absorb scent chemicals.
This contributes to their famously strong sense of smell, as the mucus will give them a more powerful ‘hit’ of the scent, allowing them to identify it while other creatures – such as ourselves – would still be struggling to catch a whiff at all.
Also, when dogs are trying to follow a specific scent, their noses produce more of this mucus, allowing them to capture a greater degree of the smell and therefore pick up its trail – no matter how faint – for longer distances.
Other Reasons Dogs Have Wet Noses
As well as absorbing scent chemicals, the moisture on a dog’s nose can help them to regulate their body temperature.
Most canines don’t have normal sweat glands like humans, so they secrete sweat from their noses and the pads of their feet, which helps cool their bodies.
You may notice that your dog has an extremely wet nose after they’ve been for a walk or a run, or if they have been excitedly jumping around. This is completely healthy and natural, as without this trait, they would overheat.
Dogs Lick Their Noses
Have you ever seen a dog lick its own nose?
This may seem like a mindless habit, but actually plays a crucial role in their health and skill as hunters. When identifying the reasoning behind this action, it comes down to two motives:
- Noses can get dirty very easily, especially when dogs are foraging for food. When a dog licks its nose, it’s a method of cleaning it.
- They are trying to grasp a certain scent. They will lick off the mucus so as to ‘taste the smell,’ helping them to identify it more thoroughly and readily.
In some cases, if a dog licks another dog’s nose, it can be a form of sympathy. They may sense that the other canine is feeling unwell and wish to cool their body by cooling their body-heat-regulator.
Dogs Noses Pick Up Moisture
When a dog is outside and using its nose, whether it is sniffing the grass or being buried in dirt, it will naturally pick up moisture from these surfaces.
If you notice their nose is extra cold or wet, don’t worry that health is an issue – take account of where they’ve been playing recently, and wait to see if it returns to normal.
Do Some Dogs Have Drier Noses Than Others?
The answer is yes. Obviously, like humans, dogs are all different and they each have different bodies and needs.
Some dogs may have drier noses, as they may not lick it as often or their nose does not secrete as much mucus.
For example, hunting dogs such as bloodhounds will have much wetter noses than poodles, which are not meant for tracking scents.
Dogs With Dry Noses
A very common myth amongst dog owners is that if your dog has a dry nose, this means they’re sick. However, that’s not always the case.
The moisture level of a dog’s nose often has little to do with their health levels. As we mentioned earlier, some dogs do have drier noses than others and this is perfectly normal; nothing to be worried about.
As the temperature fluctuates during the day, it will impact how much moister your dog secretes – just like humans.
You may find that in the morning, your dog’s nose is wet, whereas in the middle of the day, it may be slightly dry. On winter days, it may be drier compared to summer days.
However, if you notice your dog is acting strangely, lacks energy, or refuses food, do check their nose. These symptoms matched with a dry nose can mean they’re ill.
What To Do When Your Dog’s Nose Isn’t Wet?
If you begin to notice that your dog’s nose isn’t wet and there is unusual crustiness around the nostrils, this could be a sign of upper respiratory infection, which needs to be immediately looked at by a vet.
It is also important to look out for any unusual nasal discharge. A dogs’ mucus is usually clear and thin, but sometimes the mucus can become thicker and dry faster, causing a dry crust around your dog’s nose which needs veterinary attention.