close up of a black and white dog's wet nose

You are probably familiar with that wet doggy nose rubbing up against you. There is some conflicting information out there revolving around a dog’s health concerning the wetness of their nose. So, the question stands, are dogs’ noses supposed to be wet?

The truth is a wet nose is completely normal for dogs. That doesn’t mean that a dry nose is a sign a dog is unhealthy, though. Let’s explore this further.

Reasons For a Dog’s Wet Nose

A dog’s nose serves such an important purpose in their life, with their sense of smell being the strongest of all their senses. There are a few reasons why your dog’s nose may remain wet, let’s look.

Noses Secrete Mucous

This may gross a few people out, but one of the main reasons that dogs have wet noses is because of mucous secretion. The inner lining of a dog’s nose has glands that produce mucus to keep the nasal cavity moist, helping to improve their ability to smell.

The nasal mucous helps boost the absorption of the chemicals associated with scent. There’s a reason why a dog’s sense of smell is much superior to ours, and this is one of the reasons.

Dogs Lick Their Nose Frequently

Have you ever noticed your dog licking its nose? Well, this isn’t just a disgusting habit they’ve picked up, there’s plenty of reason behind it. First and foremost, dogs will lick their noses to keep them clean. Their noses get dirty very easily since they experience their world primarily through their strongest sense, smell.

Another reason they will lick their nose is to enhance their sense of smell. You see, the scent particles picked up from the lining of mucous from the nasal area are then carried to the roof of the mouth through licking.

The roof of the mouth is where the Jacobsen’s organ, or vomeronasal organ is located, which is a peripheral sensory organ of the accessory olfactory system. Its role revolves around semiochemical signal detection. To put it simply, it further helps with the communication of chemical messages.

german shepherd dog licking its nose
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Sweat Glands

Dogs don’t have sweat glands in the way that we do, which is why they must pant to cool off. They do have sweat glands though, which are in their paw pads, and you guessed it, their nose. Just like their feet will perspire to prevent overheating in warmer conditions, their nose will perspire as well. This helps them maintain a normal body temperature and prevent any health issues that can result from heat exposure.

Noses Attract Moisture

Another reason for a wet nose could be that they’ve attracted moisture with all their sniffing around. As mentioned above, a dog’s sense of smell is their strongest sense and their experience of the world around them revolves around the smells they take in. When you have your nose leading the way, it can get pretty moist by being shoved into the surrounding environment.

What About Dry Noses?

As you can see, a wet nose is completely normal for several reasons. However, that doesn’t mean that a chronically dry nose is abnormal. Though a dry nose that is accompanied by other symptoms of illness can be a cause for concern, there are perfectly healthy dogs that may just naturally have a drier nose.


Your dog’s nose may become noticeably dry if they become dehydrated. This can happen after intense exercise and physical exertion and could simply be fixed with a nice, cool bowl of fresh water. Dehydration can also be caused by lack of fluid intake, illness, fever, excessive vomiting and/or diarrhea, or even heatstroke.

Other symptoms of dehydration include lethargy and a decrease in skin elasticity. If you notice a dry nose that accompanies any other concerning symptoms, reach out to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

french bulldog lying on the floor
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Weather Conditions/Dry Air

A dry nose can be the result of weather conditions or a lack of moisture in the air, whether outside or in the home. If your dog is exposed to heavier winds or is out in the sun for a while, this can cause a dry nose. If the air in your home is dry, especially during the wintertime, this could also cause their noses to dry up.

Following a Long Nap

When a dog is napping, they are too deep in a peaceful slumber to bother licking their nose. Dogs typically wake up with dry noses after a lengthy nap. This is more common in senior dogs that spend much more time snoozing than their younger, more active counterparts.

Breed Trait

Some breeds tend to have drier noses. This is mainly observed in the brachycephalic breeds such as Pug, Pekingese, and English Bulldogs. Because of their head shape and short snouts, they are unable to lick their noses as efficiently as other breeds, leading to drier noses.

Final Thoughts

It is completely normal for dogs to have wet noses. Not only do their noses naturally secrete mucous, but most dogs also lick their noses frequently. In addition, they have sweat glands within the nose, and the nose tends to attract moisture from the environment. Just because wet noses are normal doesn’t mean that dry noses are abnormal. As long as your dog is acting fine otherwise, a dry nose is perfectly healthy just like a wet one is.

Featured Image Credit: Suzzamar, Pixabay