Take a look at any dog, and they are likely going to have a fairly cool, moist nose. It might seem a little weird at first, but it is generally considered a sign of a healthy pet. While many take a wet nose for granted with dogs, is there actual reasoning behind it?
Why do dogs have wet noses?
Dogs rely on a sense of smell to understand their surroundings and even communicate. That means they need a nose that works better than a human. A nose works better when it is a little damp so that they can pick up senses better. It is also a way for a dog to stay cool while outside or exercising.
What keeps a nose for a dog wet?
There are a few different factors that keep a dog moisturized in the nose area. Not only does their body contribute in some ways, but they get moisture from other locations around as well.
Inside every dog’s nose are several special glands that will develop enough mucus to keep nasal canals moisturized. It only takes a thin layer of mucus to stick to the nostrils, which helps to absorb different senses. This is an adaptation for dogs to benefit from.
This mucus also helps out with keeping dogs a little cooler by producing a clear, watery fluid. When that fluid evaporates, it cools off the dog in that way.
A dog is seemingly licking its nose throughout the day, and that is done to help out with keeping everything moisturized as well. When their nose has a little bit of saliva on it, that helps out in a lot of different ways to maximize the effectiveness of a nose.
The first reason why is that dogs want to keep their nose as clean as possible. Since they are sticking their nose into just about everything, it is constantly getting stuff on it. A quick tongue lick can clean everything off in no time.
Dogs also lick their nose to get some of the scents in their mouth. That mucus with scent particles can then go to the roof of the mouth. That is where Jacobsen’s organ can process the smell in another way.
Dogs learn pretty early on that if they want to gather as much scent information as possible, their dogs need to stay moist. That is why licking their nose becomes second nature for them.
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A dog’s nose is continuously putting in work, sniffing just about anything in sight. They use their sense of smell to travel around the world, and that means they are going to come across some moisture here and there.
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There is quite a bit of moisture naturally in the world, which can help to keep the dog’s nose wet. For example, a simple walk outside can lead to a dog putting their nose in grass, plants, puddles, and so much more.
Dogs usually do a pretty good job of staying out of trouble and not putting their nose in the wrong places, but there might be times they get something harmful on their nose. Instead of letting them clean it off themselves, help them out as much as possible to clear things up.
What does it mean when a dog’s nose is dry?
While a moist nose is completely normal for a dog, a dry nose can happen from time to time as well. There is this misconception that a dog is automatically sick if they have a warmer nose that is also dried out. That can indeed be a symptom, but it is not the best overall indicator of how healthy a dog is.
For starters, some dog breeds have drier noses than others. Maybe their nose does not create the same type of mucus, or they are not licking themselves as much as a typical dog. A dog’s nose is also going to be warmer and dryer right after a nap, a physical work out, and other situations. If they are facing a lot of wind or the sun, it is generally going to be a little dryer.
If a dog’s nose does appear to be different than usual, make sure to monitor the situation and see what develops. It might be something that is very temporary and will fix itself. In other cases, it might be an indicator that they are indeed sick. Do not feel the need to jump to conclusions right away, especially if they are doing something abnormal. Everything might end up correcting itself without a human intervening.
Further Reading: Why Does My Dog Stare At Me? Is It Normal?
Can a dog’s nose be too wet?
If a dog’s nose becomes a little too wet, this could be a sign of trouble. This is what happens when a dog faces a lot of the same issues as humans when they are sick. For example, there might be additional nasal discharge caused by a respiratory infection. Another problem could be a foreign body inside one of the nasal passages that is causing trouble.
Dogs with extra wet noses might also sniffle or sneeze on a more frequent basis. This is an indicator that they are dealing with some type of sickness as well, so make sure to pay attention to them and take note on how serious it might be. If it is rather minor, it will probably go away within a day. If it lingers or worsens, that is when a veterinarian can step in and help.
Why do dogs need well-functioning noses?
A dog that is struggling with its sense of smell is going to have a lot of struggles navigating the world. While dogs rely quite a bit on eyesight, it is a combination of their eyes and nose to figure everything out.
The brain of a dog focuses on what it ends up smelling more than what they end up seeing. They have over 100 million sensory receptor sites located within their nasal cavity. That is close to 20 times more than humans. The proportion of the dog’s brain that is in charge of sensing and analyzing odors is also significantly larger than humans. Dogs can smell much, much better than humans when this is all added up. Some studies have them smelling over 100,000 better than humans.
Besides having a wet and very productive nose, they also have an olfactory tool called Jacobsen’s organ. This helps to increase smelling ability by opening into the roof of a dog’s mouth behind their upper incisors. This organ is located in the nasal cavity, helping with chemical communication.
Can an owner help out their dog with a dry nose?
Dogs usually have their nose situation figured out on their own, but there are some ways to help out. For starters, look into different dog nose balms out there for frequent struggles. Dogs who are getting up there in age might particularly need this type of balm to help them out.
Some breeds end up getting their tear ducts blocked from time to time as well. When that happens, it can dry out in those a bit, so make sure to keep them as cleaned off as possible.
Finally, make sure to look into any possible allergies that the dog might have that is causing them discomfort. Most of the allergies that make a nose dry are related to the summer months, and a veterinarian will be able to figure out the right medication that will help out tremendously.
What are the most common dog breeds that have dry noses?
Two of the most common breeds that are always suffering from dry noses are pugs and bulldogs. This mostly has to do with the shape of their head. It is more difficult for them to lift their nose, which means they do not get that natural moisture that so many other breeds get. It takes a little more help from their owner to keep things moisturized.
Lhasa Apsos is another breed that struggles, not only because of their face shape, but having their tear ducts blocked. The younger the dog is, the more help they might need to keep everything moisturized properly. At the same time, older dogs run into the same problems because they are sleeping a lot and not getting moisture from their surroundings as much.
Monitoring a dog’s nose health
Make sure to pay attention to a dog’s overall nose health to keep them as healthy as possible. That can be as simple as taking note of any moisture or temperature changes that might occur. With so much reliance on their nose, a dog needs assistance from time to time if they are struggling.
It is not hard work monitoring their nose health, but something that needs keeping up with to avoid any significant complications. A dried-out nose could spell trouble if not treated promptly.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.