- Dogs need wet noses for a reason — Canines depend on their nose’s mucus membranes and sense of smell to interpret the world and keep them cool.
- Don’t be immediately alarmed — Most of the time, a dry nose is nothing serious to worry about and is often a sign of allergies, sunburn, or weather changes.
- Dry dog noses can sometimes signal underlying issues — Symptoms like a flaky nose can be a symptom of a more serious health issue or autoimmune condition.
When pet parents see their pups have a dry snout, it may cause anxiety that their furry best friend may be sick. Like most aspects of pet health, diagnosing illnesses and conditions requires nuance and the help of a skilled healthcare expert like a veterinarian. While a dog’s dry nose could signify something more serious, like an autoimmune disease, it could also be something simple to treat, like a sunburn, allergies, or dehydration.
Signs of a dry dog nose
Before we determine the possible causes of a dry nose, it’s important to see if your dog has any warning signs associated with the condition..
Some signs to watch for include:
- Cracking – A dry dog nose won’t have the moisture needed to prevent cracking. You’ll usually be able to visually see this symptom, often showing up as deep ridges, scales, or lines on your pet’s nose.
- Flaking – Dry skin can slough off in small pieces, often resembling flakes. If you notice flakes coming off of your dog’s snout, it’s a sign that the exterior skin layers are too dry.
- Nosebleeds – Dry skin doesn’t have to be exclusive to the exterior skin of your dog’s nose. Nosebleeds can occur if the dryness extends to the sensitive inner layers and folds of your dog’s nasal cavity.
Natural reasons why your dog’s nose is dry and cracked
Pet parents may be concerned if they notice their pup’s nose is dry. The fact is, there are several different reasons why your pup may have a dry nose. These conditions range in severity from benign (but potentially irritating to the dog) to more serious and needing immediate medical attention. Here are some potential reasons why your dog’s nose may be dry —
Dog breeds prone to dry noses
Certain dog breeds are more likely to have dry noses. Breeds with short stouts, particularly flat-faced or brachycephalic breeds , are especially prone to dry noses. It’s more challenging for these flat-faced dogs to lick their noses, making it easier for them to become dry. Bulldogs and pugs are two popular examples of such breeds.
Climate and weather
Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM, notes that warmer weather often comes with higher humidity which helps keep the skin moist for some dogs. The reduced humidity during colder months can cause a dog’s nose to become dry. Alternatively, dogs that live in warmer, drier climates may have drier noses, as well.
Long walks are a great way to get physical activity. However, they can also dehydrate a dog, especially in warmer months.
A dry dog nose may result from a reduction in fluids overall in the body. Bring a water bottle for your dog so they can take a drink when you’re out and about. And always ensure their bowl is full of clean water at home.
Dogs can’t lick their noses when they sleep. As a result, your dog’s nose may be dry when they wake up. Increased sleep duration is another reason senior dogs are more prone to dry noses as older pups sleep more and longer than younger pups.
Illnesses and conditions that can cause dry nose in dogs
Allergies may be seasonal and as a result of pollen. Other times, it’s the environment, such as dust in the home. Sometimes, they may result from skin allergy signs or atopy, a common condition affecting about 10% of dogs .
Dogs can also be allergic to food and medications. Your vet is the only person who can diagnose your dog’s allergies
Your pet’s nose may be dry due to an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases happen when a dog’s body’s immune system attacks healthy cells — similar to humans. Lupus and pemphigus are common autoimmune diseases that cause dryness, including on the nose.
These two autoimmune diseases can also cause the surface of your dog’s nose to appear smoother and more bare than normal (loss of keratin). Cracking and bleeding are also common.
If your dog does have an autoimmune disease, you may notice sores or scabs around the dry nose area. They will also usually display a difference in their energy and activity levels. The vet may recommend taking a biopsy if it is a disease that affects the skin , or running a blood test. Then, they’ll likely prescribe medications or another form of homeopathic treatment for your dog.
Blocked tear ducts
A dry nose combined with watery eyes could be a symptom of a blocked tear duct. This condition can occur when mucus blocks the duct, which can cause inflammation or an infection. Some breeds are more prone to this condition, such as Lhasa apsos.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne
This condition is not too common in dogs, but there are some breeds that can be prone to this condition due to an eyelid abnormality. These breeds may include cocker spaniels, bulldogs, and poodles. Treatment of this often requires referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Many times a veterinarian will perform a thorough eye exam and can flush the tear ducts within.
If you notice your dog has a dry nose, we suggest checking the foot pads. If nasal hyperkeratosis is the issue, you’ll likely see similar dryness.
Dogs are also susceptible to sunburn, which happens if they get too much direct exposure to sunlight. Heat sources like radiators can also cause burning that triggers a dry nose. Look for flaking and dryness if sunburn is the reason for your dog’s dry nose.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne
Dogs with short light-colored hair or hairless breeds can be prone to this. The best time a dog should be left out to avoid a sunburn would be either early in the morning or late afternoon, early evening when the sun is going down.
Body temperature or other illnesses may cause a dry nose.
For example, your dog may have cold or flu-like signs (runny nose, sneezing, etc) which can cause dryness. Look for additional symptoms, like decreased energy, sneezing, and vomiting. Call your vet if you are concerned your dog has a fever or is acting significantly more lethargic.
How to treat your dog’s dry or chapped nose
Treatment options vary for a dry dog nose. At-home remedies like balms may help for weather-related dry noses, while medication will likely be necessary if your pup has an underlying cause such as an autoimmune disease.
1. See your vet
First, you should always feel comfortable calling your vet if you have a concern about your pet. Take this step before trying remedies like removing allergens or applying nose balms. You should also see your vet if you suspect allergies, as they can confirm this suspicion and tell you the cause of the allergy.
🚨You’ll definitely want to get the vet on the line if your dog has any changes in appetite, vomiting, or is significantly more lethargic.
2. Remove allergens
If your dog has a known allergy diagnosed by the vet, removing them can significantly affect your dog’s comfort level. It can also help nix a dry nose. Some dogs are allergic to plastic, so be sure to check the material of their bowls. Other dogs are allergic to certain household products. More severe cases of allergies may require meds from the vet.
3. Apply balms
A good dog nose balm can moisturize your dog’s nose and reduce irritation caused by dryness and cracked skin. Once you have your product of choice, take a conservative amount on your fingertip and slather it on your pet’s dry nose spots. Be sure to follow any suggestions from your vet, and don’t exceed maximum use restrictions on the bottle!
How to prevent your dog’s dry nose
If possible, it’s best to protect your dog from getting a dry, chapped nose in the first place. A few straightforward steps can help keep your dog’s sniffer wet.
- Keep your dog hydrated — Dehydration is a main reason for a dog’s dry nose. Be sure your dog’s dish is full of water throughout the day. If traveling, bring water and a dish with you. Your dog may get up in the middle of the night to take sips of water, so make sure to check their dish before bed.
- Check your dog for signs — It’s a good idea for dog owners to inspect their pets for symptoms of issues and illnesses each day. Take a closer look at gum coloration. Pink and moist gums are healthy, while a bluish-pale color is a flag. When evaluating the nose, look for dryness, crusty skin, small cracks or ulcerated areas, and blood.
- Be gentle — Dogs’ noses are sensitive, so proceed with care in the event of a suspected injury or illness. Offer plenty of pets and praise so they associate this time with something good.
- Take your pup for regular check-ups — Home checks are important, but your vet can flag and diagnose issues more quickly. Maintain regular check-ups, and call your vet with concerns in between appointments — they may have you come in for an appointment and put your mind at ease.
- Apply dog-safe sunscreen — Dog-safe sunscreens and balms with SPF can protect your pet from sunburns. Fair-skinned, light-colored dogs burn more easily, but any dog is susceptible. Opt for a sunscreen of at least SPF 30.
Popular remedies to avoid on your dog’s dry nose
As important as it is to know what products to use to treat your puppy’s dry sniffer, it’s also important to know what not to use. The same items humans use for dry or chapped hands may not be effective or safe for dogs. These products include:
- Baby oil
On the other hand, coconut oil is one product both humans and pets alike can use. The only drawback of using coconut oil on a dog is that it can get messy!
When a dog’s nose is dry, chapped, or cracked, it can be very concerning for dog owners. Fortunately, a dry nose is usually not a sign of a dangerous condition. There are also plenty of safe and beneficial treatments to help get your dog’s nose back to its cold, wet glory.
Frequently asked questions
Why is my dog’s nose peeling?
Your dog’s nose could be peeling due to dryness — which can happen for any number of reasons. Dehydration, climate variation, age, and excessive licking can cause nose dryness in your dog.
What does it mean when a dog’s nose is dry?
A dry dog nose can be a sign of several issues. However, it’s likely nothing to be concerned about. A dog may have a dry nose due to dehydration, allergies, or an autoimmune disease. Your vet can provide a proper diagnosis.
How do you treat a dry nose on a dog?
It depends on the reason for the dry nose. If it’s allergies, removing triggers like pollen can help. For dehydration, give your dog plenty of water. A nose balm can help with weather-related dry noses. Autoimmune diseases and viral infections typically require medication.
Should a dog’s nose be wet or dry?
Nose moisture is not the only sign of good health. However, a wet nose is generally a sign of a healthy pup. A dry nose can be cause for concern, but it’s not always a symptom of a serious issue — it could be allergies or age. Also, dogs with wet noses can have health concerns, and dogs with dry noses can be healthy. Checking your dog’s nose and monitoring for other issues, like decreased energy levels, can help you get your dog prompt care when needed.
My dog has a cold, dry nose. Do I need to worry?
It depends. Your dog’s nose might be cold and dry if that reflects the weather outside. Provide plenty of water and regularly use nose balms. Call a vet if your dog’s nose is cold, dry, and cracking or bleeding. Also, discuss your dog’s condition with the veterinarian if a dry nose accompanies GI issues like vomiting.
When should I go to the vet for my dog’s dry nose?
You should generally seek vet help the first time you notice a dry dog’s nose, as this could be a sign of other health conditions. For example — a crusty nose could be a sign of an allergic reaction, autoimmune disease, or of your dog’s overall health. If there is anything to worry about, your vet can help.
Does a dry dog nose mean they are sick?
A dry dog nose doesn’t always indicate sickness. It could be chapped from excessive licking, a product of a change in climate, or benign dry skin.
What is the best way to keep a dog’s nose from getting swollen?
Swelling in the nose is not a common symptom of dry nose in dogs. Pet owners who notice any facial swelling or swelling in the nose should get their pup to the vet right away to determine if there are more serious conditions present.
How to keep a dog’s nose from drying out?
Keep your pup hydrated and remove any known allergens from your dog’s environment. Pet parents can also consult with their vet on an appropriate nose balm to treat a dog’s dry nose.
Why does my dog’s nose bleed?
Pups with severely chapped noses may bleed from the cracked, dry skin. Dogs who are experiencing nosebleeds coming from inside the nose should seek veterinary attention immediately, as it may be a secondary and more serious condition.
Why does my dog’s nose get dry in the winter?
When the weather turns colder, the lack of humidity and moisture in the air can cause a dog’s nose to dry out.