Why Does My Dog... Have a Wet Nose?

Dog Wet Nose
Thinkstock

All the better to smell you with, my dear.

Whether dogs are hot on the trail of a neighborhood cat or simply sniffing the air when you’re cooking bacon for breakfast, their noses secrete a thin layer of mucous that helps to absorb scent chemicals, says Dr. Brittany King, DVM, a board-certified veterinarian based in Cypress, Tex.

“They then lick their noses to sample the chemicals and present them to the olfactory glands on the roof of their mouths,” she adds.

Wet Nose, Cool Body

Moist noses are also one of the ways that canines can regulate body temperature and cool down. “Dogs don’t have normal sweat glands, like people,” says Dr. King, “so they secrete sweat from the pads of their feet and their noses.”

So does it mean that there’s something wrong with your pup if his nose is warm and dry?

Not necessarily, says Dr. King. “Some dogs have drier noses than others," she explains. "Maybe they don’t lick their noses as often, or they just don’t secrete as much mucous. What is important is knowing what’s normal for your dog.”

When It's Time to See a Vet

If you spot any unusual nasal discharge, you should take your dog to a vet because it could be a sign of a medical condition. A dog’s mucous should be clear and thin, but if you start to notice a surplus, the mucous gets thicker or there's crustiness around the nostrils, these could be signs of an upper respiratory infection, which needs prompt veterinary attention.

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!