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

Dogs’ noses serve important purposes beyond nudging us lovingly for more pats, scratches, and tummy rubs. While humans use their eyes to find their way around, dogs use their noses. As dog noses are often cold and wet, it leaves many wondering why, while others may worry if it means their dog is sick.

In short, dog noses are cold because a colder nose is more effective at helping dogs get the most out of the sense of smell that’s so important in how they interact with their surroundings. Read on below to find out more.

Why Is My Dog’s Nose Cold and Wet?

It’s normal for your dog’s nose to be cold and wet. Dogs rely on their sense of smell to interact with the world around them and seek out information about objects, situations, and the people around them. A dog’s sense of smell is much more highly attuned than that of a human’s, which is why they’re often used to help police solve crimes.

To put this into perspective, the part of a dog’s brain that deals with smells and figuring out what they might mean is 40 times larger than that of a human’s. They also have more than 100 million sensory receptors in their noses compared with a human’s mere 6 million and a secondary sensory organ in the nasal cavity called Jacobsen’s organ, which further enhances their sense of smell.

A cold, wet nose is more effective at picking up scent particles that help them find out information about objects, people, and other animals than a warm, dry nose. This is because these particles naturally stick to cool, wet surfaces much more easily, and this is why it’s normal for a dog’s nose to be cool and wet as they spend so much time sniffing about!

How Does A Dog’s Nose Get Cold and Wet?

A dog’s nose plays an important role in keeping them cool, too. Dogs have mucous glands inside their noses that give off moisture in the form of a clear liquid that evaporates and keeps the nose cool and moist. So, if it’s warm outside, don’t be surprised if your dog’s nose is cool and wet—it’s just their cooling system doing its job!

Your dog’s nose can also become cool from licking. Dogs have a tendency to lick their noses to cover them in saliva, because this helps keep them clean and also stimulates the Jacobsen’s organ to help them pick up scent particles more effectively.

german shepherd dog licking its nose
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

My Dog’s Nose Is Warm and Dry—Are They Sick?

Not necessarily. A dog’s nose can become warm and dry for a variety of reasons, and it doesn’t always indicate that your dog is unwell. Your dog’s nose may dry out because they’ve been sleeping or the weather has played a part, similar to how humans get chapped lips when it’s windy or especially hot out. It’s also normal for your dog to get a dry nose when they start to get a bit older.

Basically, if your dog has a dry, warm, or even hot nose but seems otherwise fine, it’s unlikely that there’s a health issue at hand. If your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, contact your vet to get them checked out:

  • A snotty nose
  • Nasal discharge
  • Itchy, sore, or crusty nose
  • Unusually colored discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High temperature
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Consistently high nose temperature


To sum it up, dogs’ noses are cold and wet because they secrete a clear mucous from the nasal cavity that evaporates on the nose and helps with cooling. Dogs also lick their noses to improve their olfactory performance and pick up scent particles more easily. A warm nose doesn’t necessarily indicate a health problem unless your dog is showing other symptoms at the same time or seems generally unwell.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay