Dog Dry Nose: What Does it Mean? Causes & Treatment


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If your dog has a dry nose, what’s causing it? Should you be alarmed? Is it time for a trip to the veterinarian or something you can deal with at home? In the material that follows, you’ll learn exactly when a dry nose is cause for concern, when it’s not, and what to do about it, so keep reading!

What Does it Mean When a Dog’s Nose is Dry?

A dog’s nose is a truly marvelous thing and far more powerful than the human nose. Have you ever wondered how dogs can wander off and still find their way home? It’s because they can smell home from literally miles away, and their noses lead them back.

How does this work? Dogs lick their noses, and this creates a thin mucus layer that absorbs scents. Ideally, a dog’s nose should be wet in order for it to work at peak capacity which, depending on breed, can be anywhere from ten thousand to one hundred thousand times more powerful than the human sense of smell.

What does it mean when a dog’s nose is dry? It means that it’s working less effectively, but it’s not usually something that you should worry about. A dry nose can be caused by any number of perfectly innocuous things. For instance, your dog’s nose is usually going to be dry while he’s asleep – this is because when he’s sleeping, he’s not licking his nose. Once he wakes up, he’ll start licking again, and his nose will return to its default setting – cold and wet.

A dog will often have a dry nose during the winter months. This is because warm air from heating systems can have a drying effect. Many dogs love to sleep next to heating vents, hence the dry nose.

Winter cold in the outdoors can also cause a dog to have a dry nose. You know how your lips get cracked and dry when you’re outside in the winter weather? That cold air can have a similar effect on a dog’s nose.

Is dog dry nose ever anything to worry about? Sometimes, and we’ll talk more about this later. Most of the time, though, a dry nose is just a dry nose, so stay cool and calm and, as I’ve already suggested, keep reading to learn more!

What Can I Put on My Dog’s Dry Nose?

Most of the time, your dog’s dry nose problem will iron itself out without assistance from you. If it persists and isn’t serious enough to warrant a visit to the vet, there are a number of natural remedies you can use.

Shea butter is very soothing to dry skin, and you probably find it in many of your own personal care products. It is 100% safe for dogs, and can be used on the nose as well as on dry elbows and paws.

To treat your dog’s dry nose, you can also invade the kitchen cupboard. Pull out your olive oil and apply a bit to your dog’s snout. You can also add a small amount (usually no more than a teaspoon) to your dog’s food to provide moisture from the inside out.

Almond oil is also a good choice. It contains numerous fatty acids that work to heal dryness and irritation. The only downside to almond oil is that it can be more expensive than other products, like olive oil, that will work equally well.

You can also try cocoa seed butter. It’s great for softening and conditioning. Now, if you’re saying “What???? I’ve read your posts, and you’ve repeatedly said ‘no chocolate for dogs,’” you’re absolutely right. Don’t worry, though. Cocoa seed butter doesn’t contain any of the ingredients that make chocolate harmful to dogs.

If your dog’s dry nose is severe to the point that it’s not responding to any of these treatments, it’s time for a trip to the animal hospital. Your veterinarian can recommend several topical treatments that will ease the condition.

Should a Dog’s Nose be Wet or Dry?

As previously mentioned, the default setting for a dog’s nose is WET. It’s the state in which a dog’s nose works most effectively. Occasional dry nose, though, is not a cause for panic. If I can get anything through to you here, it’s what I’ve already said – sometimes a dry nose is nothing more than a dry nose, not an indication of anything more serious.

Why is My Dog’s Nose Dry and Cracked?

If a dog’s nose is cracked as well as being dry, it can be a sign of an auto-immune disorder.  If dryness is accompanied by cracking, don’t try to treat the condition at home. You might be masking symptoms of something more serious. Take your dog to the vet.

What Causes Dry Crusty Nose on a Dog?

Crustiness, accompanied by dryness and cracking, can indicate an immune disorder or serious allergies. Again, this is cause for a visit to the vet.

How to Treat a Dog’s Dry Nose?

Most of the time, you don’t need to treat a dog’s dry nose. Just leave it alone and things will level out in the fullness of time. Mere dryness is hardly ever an issue and if it does have to be treated, you can go with any of the home remedies outlined above. If cracking or crustiness are present, or if your dog seems to be in distress, you’re out of your league and you need veterinary assistance.

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Is a Dry Nose a Sign of a Sick Dog?

As you may have gathered from the previous material, dry nose is hardly ever a sign of a sick dog. That’s not to say, though, that it never is. It’s worth mentioning, too, that some dogs are very prone to problems.

Brachycephalic dogs (Boxers, Puts, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus and other dogs with short snouts) can have trouble licking their noses. Consequently, their snouts dry out quickly and may need to be moisturized. If the condition worsens, veterinary treatment may be needed.

Keep in mind that, like humans, dogs can have allergies, and a dry nose in a dog can be a symptom of an allergy. Again, see your vet to determine the proper course of treatment. It might involve medication, or simply a change in food.

A dry nose in dogs can also be an indication of dehydration. Make sure that your dog has access at all times to fresh, clean water.

Most of the time, a dry nose does not mean that your dog is sick. However, if you’re really concerned, take your dog to the vet. Yes, it will cost you money. But my position, when it comes to my dogs, is always that I’d rather throw good money out the window than take even the slightest chance of seeing one of my dogs suffer.

Common Questions

How do you treat a dog’s dry nose?

Usually, you can treat a dry nose using any of the natural, topical treatments outlined above.

What is kennel nose?

This is a common condition in dogs that are placed in boarding kennels. It can result from attempting to bury food, chewing at the kennel door, or other activities related to anxiety.

CaIs it normal for a dog’s nose to peel?

Dogs are like humans in that if they get sunburned, exposed skin will peel. If your dog has not been sunburned, peeling on the nose is cause for a trip to the vet.

Can I put Chapstick on my dog’s nose?

Chapstick is nothing more than Vaseline in a stick form. You can use either on your dog’s nose.

Can I put coconut oil on my dog?

Coconut oil is a very safe, natural moisturizer. In addition to easing the discomfort of dry nose in dogs, it can also help to improve the elasticity of the skin.

Is my dog dehydrated?

If your dog is getting enough water, chances are that he’s not dehydrated. If you’re in doubt, take a look at his gums. If they look sticky and dry, he’s probably dehydrated. If his eyes are sunken and his skin seems to lack elasticity, those are also signs of dehydration.

Can I put Aquaphor on my dog’s nose?

You may have heard that Aquaphor is great for dry hands and for use on your baby’s bottom. It’s also great for using on your dog baby’s nose!

Can I put Neosporin on my dog’s nose?

Yes. Most antibacterial ointments are safe for dogs. If in doubt, ask your veterinarian.

What is nose butter for dogs?

Nose butter is a preparation made mainly of shea butter, which contains Vitamin E oil, avocado oil, and some essential oils. It is sold under brand names, or you can make it at home.

How do I know if my dog is dying?

First, your dog is not likely dying of dry nose. I hesitated to put this question in here, but I’ve been asked it so many times, I thought I’d include it. Your dog is likely dying if he has a severe loss of energy and has no interest in the things that once pleased him. If he is lying on the floor with his head facing a corner, this is a very serious sign and should be followed immediately with a trip to the vet. Sadly, it will probably be for euthanasia.

Can you flush a dog’s nose with saline?

Yes. If your dog has a stuffy nose, your veterinarian can prescribe a saline nasal spray.

Can dogs get depressed?

Dogs are typically happy creatures but yes, they can become depressed. Depression in dogs can be caused by physical illness, environmental changes, fear, or the loss of a beloved human or animal companion. The treatment for depression in dogs is a lot of love and attention. In severe cases, medication may be required.

Should my dog’s paws be rough?

If your dog is at all active, his paws should be a little bit rough but not to the point where they’re cracked and dry. If you think your dog’s paws are in bad shape, you can use any of the topical remedies recommended for a dry nose.


A dog’s nose, in its best state, is cold and wet. It’s not unusual, though, for a dog’s nose to be dry from time to time. If he’s out in cold weather, or overly hot weather, it’s perfectly natural for the nose to dry up a bit. You really only need to worry if your dog’s nose is constantly dry, and even then, you don’t need to worry all that much. Just apply a lubricant like coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, cocoa seed butter or almond oil. You can also use Vaseline, Neosporin or Aquaphor.

If the dryness gets out of hand, take your dog to the vet. He could have an allergy or other health condition that’s causing the dry nose. Most of the time, the condition will be easily treated with a more powerful topical treatment than what you can buy at your local pharmacy. Serious cases might require more aggressive treatment, but again, the underlying condition is not likely to be all that serious.

If the cause is properly diagnosed and the condition properly treated, dry nose in dogs is not a big deal. Do what you can at home, and if that doesn’t work, see your vet. Together, you can work to get your best buddy’s snout back into proper, wet working order!

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