how to treat a dry nose on dogs?

Close up of a dogs nose

Your dog came to you, rubbing his head for some cuddles as he usually does. Unfortunately, you noticed something different.

His usually wet nose seems really dry, and you are freaking out. I had the same problem last winter. and as a good owner that cares about her dog, I started to run to the internet and call my vets.

Nevertheless, I am afraid to tell you that my vets were laughing out loud when they discovered that I was freaking out. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t serious problems that may be associated with dry noses.

Therefore, today I am going to give you every little detail that I know from the meaning of dry nose to the reasons and what you can do about it.

Dry nose can happen due to a variety of reasons that may be medical or non-medical. There are 4 medical reasons dogs can have a dry nose:

  • The can get a sunburn
  • Dehydration
  • Heat stroke
  • Auto-immune disease
  • Allergy
  • Runny nose
  • Just a dry nose

For the non-medical reasons and solutions read on.

Some of the home remedies you can follow are stopping the dog’s dehydration in case of heat strokes and eliminating the dry nose problem.

Why Are Dogs’ Noses Wet?

Dog on the floor showing his wet nose
Dog on the floor showing his wet nose

Understanding the reason for your dog’s wet noses is how you can treat them.

In general, dogs have wet noses for several reasons.

  1. Mucous secretion:

    Dog’s mucous is different from human’s noses mucous. Because dogs are better smellers than humans, their noses’ structure is entirely different than ours.

    Mucous of dog’s noses contain acids that are vital to smell the weakest scents. Actually, scientists found that this mucous is the main reason that dogs smell better than humans.
  2. Sweat production:

    The only areas that can produce sweat in dogs to reduce their body temperature are the dog’s paws and noses. Without them, dogs will be more prone to heat strokes.
  3. Nose licking:

    Dogs use their noses to understand everything around them. Whenever they approach a stranger, you will find them smelling this person before approaching. That’s why dog’s noses are vital for them.

    Furthermore, this makes dogs’ noses prone to dirt. That’s why you will find them licking their noses to clean the dust off.
  4. Genetic Factors:

    Some dogs just have wetter noses than others, depending on the breed.

Why Is My Dog’s Nose Dry?

Close-up of a dog with a dry nose
Close-up of a dog with a dry nose

A dry nose simply means that some of the reasons that make dog’s noses wet are no longer here.

However, don’t mix dog’s dry noses with your breed’s normal moisture noses. Some breeds have dry noses by nature, and therefore, there is no need to be worried.

That’s being said; it’s clear that dry nose is a symptom of illness and not a disease.

That’s why we are going to divide the reasons for dry noses into two main categories:

1- Non-medical Reasons:

Some reasons for dog noses aren’t accompanied by illness at all, that’s why vets aren’t usually concerned with dry noses.

Therefore, we can list the reasons for dry noses as follow:

Dry nose while sleeping:checking with your vet before every movement is essential.Most of the dogs will have a dry nose while sleeping because they will no longer lick their noses, and their noses become dry.
Coldness:Winter triggers sore throat in humans as well as the dry nose in dogs. That’s why you may find your dog’s nose is dry if you are in a cold area.

The great news is that you don’t need to worry at all! This reason isn’t a medical issue, and soon your dog’s nose will return to normal.
Thirsty dog:Whenever your dog does an exercise, you will find that he has a dry nose after that.

That’s because thirstiness triggers the dry nose issue in dogs.
Hot weather:If the temperature is unbearable for your dog, you will find him reacting by certain behaviors. One of these behaviors is to have a dry nose.

However, there might also be a medical condition for this specific reason. We will cover this in the next section.
Non-medical reasons that causes dry noses.

Well, there is nothing that you need to cure those issues. Sleeping, being thirsty, hot weather or cold weather aren’t concerning at all. The dry nose will heal on its own.

If you are concerned, though, you can use some safe nose lotions for dogs. Make sure to use the special creams made for dogs and do not use any human lotions.

That’s because dogs love licking their noses, and you have to use something that they can swallow without any issue.

Make sure to stay till the end. We will provide a list of the best lotions.

2- Medical Reasons

Dog with a sunburned nose
Dog with a sunburned nose

Dry noses might also indicate that there’s a specific illness with your dog, which happened to me today.

Treating a dry nose is easy as long as it is not related to severe diseases like auto-immune diseases.

As mentioned before, a dry nose is a symptom and not a disease. So to treat dry nose, you have to manage the central condition.

That’s why I will cover a treat for every mentioned reason.

Some of the medical issues that cause dry noses are:

Sunburn:All the dog’s body is covered by fur, except the parts that produce sweat that we covered earlier. These parts are paws and noses.

The nose isn’t covered by fur to make the dog able to capture all the scents and feel everything with their nose.

Unfortunately, this makes their nose and paws prone to sunburn when subjected to the hot sun. This is more common for pink noses than the black ones. If your dog’s nose was sunburn, grab a bottle of cold water or a piece of ice and put it on his nose.
If your dog’s nose was sunburn, grab a bottle of cold water or a piece of ice and put it on his nose.

If the sunburn area is horrible that your dog can’t breathe or winning, then taking him to the vet is important to give him a tropical cream.
Dehydration:There is a massive difference between a thirsty dog and a dehydrated dog.

You can look at thirst as a symptom of dehydration. Dehydration means the body doesn’t have enough water to do regular tasks. In other words, a decrease in the rate of water in the blood.

Most of the time, pet owners overlook dehydration. In fact, 40% of the dogs die of dehydration rather than the primary illness.

Dehydration mainly comes with a decrease in everything related to water and makes the dog’s nose dry.

You can know more about dehydration and how to detect it from this article.
Dehydration is a severe disease that needs immediate vet’s care. As I said, this is a critical condition that ends up badly if not treated promptly.

Dehydration basically means that your dog’s blood is lacking water. A quick remedy that you can use until you visit your vet is to give your dog 2 ml of molasses with water. However, this is not a permanent remedy.

Dehydration usually needs to be treated by I.V. injection that must be supervised by your vet.
Heat Strokes:Heat strokes usually lead to dehydration, which will cause dry nose as well.Unfortunately, my dog just had a heat stroke today, the same day I am writing the blog.

I had to treat it at home because my vet was closed due to the lockdown. However, my dog wasn’t in a critical situation.

Heat strokes can be treated at home easily as long as your dog’s temperature is lower than 41.5 Celcius. Over 41.5, needs immediate vet care that should be treated seriously.

If the temperature was below 41.5, you could help your dog by putting him in front of a fan and re-measuring his temperature every 5 mins.

Another thing you can do is to place some cool water on his head, ears, paws, and between his legs.

Once your dog’s temperature lowers to 39 Celcius stop everything and just keep him inside your home away from the sun. Be careful not to give him a cold shower, as this can cause serious problems.

If your dog’s temperature didn’t go down within 24 hours, then plan a visit to the vet.
Auto-immune diseases:Well, this is really the last common reason for all the time.

Auto-immune diseases accompany many issues, including the dry nose symptom. However, this is really rare. Some of the immune disorders are Discoid lupus erythematosus or pemphigus.
Check with your vet at once. you can’t have any home remedies for those diseases.
Dog allergies:Unfortunately, allergies are a really unexpected issue that many dog owners face. Like suddenly, you realize that your dog is allergic to a specific type of food without any warning or sign.

Allergies have many symptoms, and they nearly include every symptom for every disease: Fever, dry nose, sluggish behavior, dehydration, etc.

So if you believe that your dog has a dry nose because of allergies, then head to your vet to run some tests and ask for the best medicine based on your dog’s allergies.
Every allergy has its own cure. You need to check with your vet the reason for your dog’s allergy and the right treatment.
Runny Nose:I know it sounds weird. However, a runny nose can cause some mucus to be dry inside your dog’s nose, which will cause some scabs in your dog’s nose and will eventually end in the dry nose. (More about Nasal discharge later.)Treating a dog with Runny Nose or with nosebleed requires several steps covered in the next heading.
Just a dry nose:Sometimes, your dog is just suffering from a dry nose without any reason. Sometimes you find your skin dry and need lotion, and the same might happen with your dog.Using a dog’s nose lotion will treat your dog’s nose.
Medical Reasons for dry noses.

Remember to always check with your vet whenever you find a severe problem or unnatural behavior.

Sometimes, a dog can have a dry nose that is accompanied by difficulty in breathing. You have to go to the vet immediately and skip the home remedies.

Are Dry Noses Painful For A Dog?

Dog rubbing his nose
Dog rubbing his nose

It depends on the period through which your dog has been suffering from dry noses.

For example, if your dog has had a dry nose for a day or so, it won’t be painful. However, if your dog had a dry nose for several days, it started to have some scabs and started bleeding, it would be excruciating for your dog.

Usually, a dog in pain will show signs of discomfort like trying to scratch his nose to the ground or refusing to eat or drink. If your dog shows such symptoms, then make sure to plan a visit to the vet to have the right creme.

Very Wet Noses/Runny Noses

So after looking at dry noses, you must think that the more your dog’s nose is wet, the better, right?

Unfortunately, there is a limit on how wet should be your dog’s nose.

If your dog’s nose is runny or very wet, this is not usual, just like dry noses. Runny noses are the over secretion of mucous. However, this isn’t as concerning as dry noses.

Dog showing his runny nose
Dog showing his runny nose

It gets concerning when you realize that the secreted mucous isn’t healthy and that the discharges have a weird color like pale yellow.

Runny noses can happen for various reasons, including excitement, and they can also indicate severe disease. And it’s treatment depends on the condition as well just like dry noses.

Keep in mind, though, if your dog’s runny nose started to bleed, this must be serious. However, there are first aid tips that you can use to stop the bleeding momentarily until you reach your vet.

What you can do to stop a nosebleed is:

  1. Don’t panic or frighten your dog. Try to cuddle him as he is already freaking out gently. If you started panicking, you wouldn’t be able to treat it as he would be running already.
  2. Try to find something absorbent to cover your dog’s nose with.
  3. Get a piece of ice or any cold water bottle and compress it gently on the upper part of your dog’s nose between his eyes.
  4. Keep calm and don’t try to do anything else, just be with him until the blood stops.
  5. Visit the vet to know the cause of bleeding.

I couldn’t cover the reasons for runny noses, as this will require another blog post. However, if you are interested to know them, here is an excellent article to do so!

What Does A Healthy Dog Nose Look Like?

If a very wet nose or a dry nose is both bad, how should be my dog’s nose?

A healthy dog nose should be moist but not continually producing water like a tap. This is the most accurate description of a healthy dog’s nose.

Imagine putting your hand on a water bottle. You will find that the cold water bottle’s outer side is moist. However, it doesn’t produce water, as it would be leaking in this case.

How Can The Nose Be An Indication Of Your Dog’s Overall Health?

Picture of a happy dog
Happy dog

Dog’s runny nose or dry nose may be symptoms for more severe diseases. Therefore, taking care of the changes to your dog’s nose helps track your dog’s overall health.

Usually, having a runny nose or dry nose once in a while is very acceptable, especially if the weather is clumsy. However, always suffering from dry noses is alerting and will force you to check with your vet to ensure that your dog is well.

How to Determine If It Was An Illness Or Other Reason?

If your dog suffered from a dry nose because of a disease, he would most likely show other symptoms. For example, dry noses due to heat strokes will have other symptoms like an increase in the overall body temperature.

However, if it just happened suddenly and your dog seems pretty healthy and playful, it is most likely a non-medial reason. You can track your dog’s behavior for 48 hours. If the nose didn’t return to the normal state, you might need to check with a vet.

Best lotions to avoid.

Dog with lotion on his paw
Dog with lotion on his paw

A good dog lotion is a lotion that is safe to be swallowed. As I mentioned before, dogs lick their noses, and using any human creams might be toxic for your dog.

You can read the full list of all the products that are poisonous to dogs from this ASPCA article.

Generally, you have to ignore any lotion that contains:

  • Zinc Oxide.
  • Diclofenac.
  • Calcipotriene.

They are toxic to dogs and cause immediate death. Other ingredients may be allergic to 80% of the dogs like:

  • Hydrocortisone.
  • Lidocaine.

Therefore, always check with your vet before giving any lotion to your dog. Don’t depend on online reviews.

What worked for another dog might not work for your dog.


Dry noses or runny noses, don’t feel stressed. They can be a symptom of severe disease, and they can be a normal behavior that happens once in a while.

Figuring out why your dog has a dry nose needs patience and observing. Avoid panicking and think carefully before doing anything. I know we all love our dogs, and that’s why we always care about them.

Don’t forget to tell us down in the comments below your experience with dry noses.

Erwin Borgers

Hi, I’m Erwin. I grew up with two cats, but I always wanted to have a dog. Since my wife and I lived together, we have Mayla. She is a very sweet King Charles Spaniel. Together we spend countless of hours in the forest near our home. We love to walk together and now I want to share what I learned about walking dogs and what I learned about dog gear with you.

Recent Posts