About authors

Image of partner

Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Are dogs sick if they have a dry nose? This myth is still in many people’s minds and is also spread falsely by some people at every opportunity. The fact is, a dry dog nose may be an indication of illness but it also may be not. More about this will follow here. Enjoy reading.

Why is a wet nose important for dogs?

Dogs are equipped with an incredibly remarkable sense of smell. Due to the millions of olfactory cells, they smell much better than humans, even up to 40 times more intense. This fact is quite impressive, isn’t it?

In order for the sense of smell to function optimally, the dog’s nose is always moistened. This is because the scent particles in the air adhere better to moist surfaces. It is also moistened with the tongue.

Is my dog sick if he has a dry nose?

Many dog owners have already internalised this popular wisdom and automatically become very worried when their beloved dog has a dry nose. If the nose then also feels warm, it is not uncommon for many to panic and immediately visit a veterinary clinic.

With this myth in mind, it is perfectly understandable if some dog parents get worried when their dog’s nose is dry. The fact is, however, that a dry dog nose does not automatically have to be a sign of illness. The myth that a dog is always ill when its nose is dry is therefore a misconception. As a rule, the nose changes again and again in the course of the day.

Important: If your beloved four-legged friend shows other symptoms besides a dry nose (see below), a visit to a veterinarian is definitely advisable. Even if your pet has been suffering from a dry nose for a longer full stop of time, it is advisable to have it checked out by a specialist. 

Banner App

Dry nose of dogs: What are the causes?

Does the dog’s nose always have to be moist? As already mentioned, a well-moistened dog’s nose helps it to smell. However, it is perfectly normal for a dog not to have a moist nose all the time. Several times a day, the condition of the nose can change from moist to dry. This can have various mostly harmless reasons:

Temperature: Dry and/or too warm room air. The ambient temperature as well as the humidity in the air always have an influence on the condition of the dog’s nose. If the air in the room is too dry, make sure the climate is pleasant by ventilating the room more often or setting up a humidifier. The dog bed should not necessarily be placed next to a radiator or similar, and when outside temperatures are high, your pet should always be able to retreat to a cooler place. Sunburn on the dog’s nose is also possible. Wind and cold can also lead to a dry and chapped nose. 

After sleep: Dogs regularly moisten their nose by licking it with their tongue, but they usually stop this behaviour during sleep. Shortly after waking up, however, the nose should be moist again. 

Lack of fluids: A dry nose can be a sign that your furry friend is not drinking enough. Always make sure your darling has fresh water available and does not become dehydrated. 

Age: The age of the dog can actually have an influence. Older dogs tend to have dry noses more often. A nourishing ointment can provide relief (please consult with a veterinarian). 

Digging: Some dogs love to dig and burrow in the ground. The components of the soil can quickly dry out a dog’s sensitive nose. 

Hereditary physical causes: Some breeds are more prone to a dry nose due to their physical constitution. Very short-nosed breeds in particular have a problem with this more often. 

When can a dry dog nose be caused by a disease?

Besides the “normal” causes, which are usually harmless, a dry nose can also have other serious causes:

  • Heat and dehydration: A serious danger, especially in the summer months. Heat stroke in dogs is an acute, even life-threatening, matter. A lack of fluids can also be a reason.
  • Allergies: For example, to cleaning agents, plastics or metals.
  • Lack of nutrients: A lack of vitamins or minerals (mostly vitamin A, proteins or zinc) can show up as a dry nose, for example. 
  • Infections/fever: Various bacteria,viruses, fungal disease and parasites can trigger a variety of possible (dangerous) infections. If the nose not only feels dry but also very warm, fever (from 40 degrees Celsius) cannot be ruled out. Watch out for accompanying symptoms (loss of appetite, apathy, pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.).
  • After accidents and injuries.
  • Various diseases.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Pemphigus foliaceus (blistering disease) Disposition in Akita, Doberman, Chow-Chow, Dachshund, Spitz, Newfoundland, among others. Discoid lupus erythematosus (loss of pigment, inflammation) Disposition in sheepdogs, Collie, Sheltie, Husky, German Shorthair, Epagneul Breton, among others.
  • Hereditary diseases: Ichthyosis (disorder of keratinisation) Disposition in Great Dane, Golden Retriever, Bulldog. Hereditary nasal parakeratosis (keratinisation, crusting) Disposition in Greyhound, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, among others. Dermatomyositis (inflammation) Disposition in Collie, Sheltie. Hyperkeratosis (keratinisation) Disposition in Boxer, Dogue de Bordeaux, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Terrier (Kerry Blue, Irish, Bedlington), among others.

Dry dog nose: When to see a doctor?

If your dog has a dry nose from time to time, and sometimes also a warm nose, this is perfectly normal. However, if you notice other symptoms or changes in your dog’s behaviour, it is very important to see a vet as soon as possible. 

  • Your dog is constantly wiping his nose with his paw and/or trying to rub his nose against objects or people. Foreign objects may have entered the nose (awns).
  • Frequent sneezing.
  • Loud unusual snoring.
  • He has a raised temperature or even a fever. 
  • He seems fatigued, restless, depressed, listless, apathetic.
  • Shallow breathing.
  • Loss of appetite, changes in eating behaviour.
  • Diarrhoea and/or vomiting.
  • Increased heavy panting. 
  • Whimpers, generally appears in pain.
  • Visible lesions/changes in the skin on the nose. 
  • Discharge of pus or yellowish outflow from one or both nostrils, severe crusting and/or tearing. 


There can be many reasons why a dog’s nose is dry. It can vary throughout the day and is perfectly normal. There does not always have to be a disease behind it. If there is a disease, there are usually other symptoms as well. However, if your pet has a dry nose for a long time and shows other signs of a disease, you should consult a veterinarian.