What Can Your Dog’s Nose Tell You?

Nope, it’s not some kind of crummy opening line to a joke.

Though, now that you mention it, that question could make a great opener… what can your dog’s nose tell you about the middle of their face?

That it’s the scenter! Hahahaha

Right, all jokes aside, your dog's nose can tell you a bit about how your pup might be feeling and if there is anything wrong.

Read on to find out all about the secrets your dog’s nose holds.

Your Dog’s Nose

Somewhere along the way, it became common knowledge that the state of your dog’s nose is an indicator of their health. That’s not 100% true though. The state of your dog’s nose can be impacted by the temperature and humidity levels in the air, their exposure to the sun, whether they have exercised recently, or how often they lick their nose.

But, that glorious sniffer can still give you some clues about how your dog is doing. Combine those clues with general observations and knowledge about what your dog has been up to, and it can be a really good indicator of what is going on with your doggo.

Dog Nose Facts

Your dog’s nose is a fascinating construct. Here are some cool facts about their humble schnoz!

  • Dogs have 300 million scent receptors in their noses and humans only have 6 million!
  • Their nose gives them the ability to breathe in and out at the same time - nothing will stop them from sniffing out all the interesting smells.
  • Dogs can smell separately with each nostril allowing them to form a 3-D-like picture.
  • The area in the brain that detects smell is 40 times bigger in a dog than in a human!
  • Just like human fingerprints, dog nose prints are all unique
  • Some dogs have even more powerful noses; breeds like Bloodhounds, Bassets and Beagles have all evolved with longer snouts for better sniffing power!
  • A wet dog nose helps increase their ability to detect smells as it can capture tiny scent particles - like using a wet cloth instead of a dry one

Should Your Dog’s Nose Be Wet Or Dry?

Popular opinion states that if your dog’s nose is dry, they are unwell. But, that is a myth. Actually, the natural state of your pup’s sniffer is dryness. They are generally wet due to the dog licking the nose (or burying it too far in a bowl of water!).

So, why do puppos lick their nose so often?

Well, dogs are unable to sweat with their whole body. They only have the ability to sweat through their paw pads, which is a very small portion of their body! Instead, they use panting and licking their nose to regulate their body temperature.

When the saliva evaporates from their nose and mouth, it helps them to cool down. So, if your dog’s nose is cold, it means the process is working! Conversely, if it is overly warm, it’s probably time to find them some shade and a drink of water.

Because dogs can’t sweat like we humans do, they can be more sensitive to hot weather, especially if their coat is a darker colour. You may find they lick their nose more often when the weather is warm.

So, in answer to the question of whether your dog’s nose should be wet or dry, the answer is both! Depending on the situation of course.

Is A Wet Nose Good Or Bad?

As we mentioned in our fun facts section, a wet nose amplifies your dog’s ability to smell. And as smell is their most powerful sense, nose moisture is a key ingredient!

Licking their nose has a dual purpose when it comes to smelling. The first is that the licking moistens the surface of their nose and helps scent particles stick to it better. While they do have mucus glands in their nostrils specifically designed for this purpose, licking also plays a big role.

The second purpose is that when your doggo licks their nose, it transfers the scent particles to the roof of their mouth. From there, they are detected by the vomeronasal organ. This is a sensory organ that helps your pup detect pheromones and lets them gain valuable information about other living things.

So, a wet nose is not necessarily a bad sign. It can simply indicate your dog’s sensory systems are operating well. If your dog’s nose is dripping or full of mucus, that is a different story. That is a sign that they are not well and may need to see a vet.

Is A Dry Nose A Bad Sign?

So, if a wet nose is not a bad thing, is a dry nose? A dry nose alone is not cause for concern. For some breeds, often those with shorter snouts, it is quite common to have dry noses.

And for the rest, a dry nose is not unusual either. They will often wake up from a nap with a dry nose because much of the moisture is because of licking, which they can’t do while sleeping. Sun exposure or warm, windy weather can also cause a dry nose.

In some cases, a dry nose is a sign of dehydration. Especially if the nose skin appears dry and flakey. So, if you notice your pup has a dry nose, ensure they have access to water. Monitor their demeanour too, as they don’t always perform the usual behaviours like nose licking if they are feeling unwell.

What Is a Normal Nose?

The most common appearance of a dog’s nose is damp and cool to the touch. But, that might not necessarily be the normal for your pup. Some dog breeds can have noses that are dryer or warmer than others, so recognise the common state for your dog and monitor if that changes.

For example, if your pup’s nose is usually cool and damp, but suddenly becomes warm and dry, then you need to check things out further. Likewise, if their nose is usually warm and dry, but becomes wet and runny, then it could indicate an issue.
Your dog’s nose can tell you a lot of things, and any of these symptoms are cause for concern. Be on the lookout for:

  • Mucus or significant discharge exiting the nose (especially if it is thick or yellowy in colour)
  • Bleeding
  • Changes to the appearance of their nose, such as flaking, discolouration etc.
  • Sneezing, coughing or respiratory symptoms

What Your Dog’s Nose Tells You

To wrap it all up, judging your pup’s health solely on the appearance of their nose is not wise. Warm noses don’t necessarily indicate sickness and cold, wet ones don’t always show good health. It’s about looking at your pup’s nose in conjunction with their other behaviours.

Pets can be good at hiding their illnesses when they first start, so make sure you are aware of what your dog’s normal is so you can distinguish if anything falls outside that.

Also, do what you can to keep them in good health. Part of that is feeding them a premium food that meets all of their dietary needs. Real Dog Food is the all-natural option that ticks all the pet nutritionist boxes. Shop for yours now.