Help, My Dog Has A Dry Nose!
By:Dr. Linda Simon
Author: Dr. Linda Simon
Dr. Linda Simon is a veterinary surgeon working with seven years of experience. She is a fellow of the British Veterinary Association and specializing in animal medicine. Also, she has been the Woman magazine resident vet for the past two years and writes a regular column for them, focusing on pets and their health.View all 14 articles Learn about our editorial process
Updated on: 17/04/2020
Everyone knows that a healthy dog has a wet nose… right? Well, not necessarily. Let’s take a closer look at our pooches, their snouts and what it all means.
Is a dry nose on a dog a bad thing?
While many believe that a dry nose means a sick dog that is dehydrated, this is simply not true. To measure a dog’s hydration levels, vets will check how moist their gums are and how elastic their skin is; their nose simply does not factor in!
The reason for this is because even a healthy, well-hydrated dog can have a bone dry nose. Conversely, a poorly, dehydrated pooch can have a nose that is sopping wet (especially if they have a habit of licking it).
More often than not, a dry nose is completely normal. For many dogs, in fact, their nose may be wet sometimes and dry others. Noses can dry out in the winter months and even from being in a warm room or near a radiator.
However, rarely, a dry nose is a sign of an underlying issue so if you have any concerns, it is always best to ask your vet.
When to worry about a dry nose?
A dry nose on a dog that never normally has a dry nose and is not acting themselves may be a concern. However, it would be rare that the dry nose itself would be the only clue that something is amiss and unwell dogs would usually have other symptoms such as lethargy, reduced appetite and an upset stomach.
A dry nose that looks abnormal e.g. a different colour, dry, scaly or irritated, should always be examined.
What does a dry and cracked nose mean?
The skin of a dog’s nose should always be smooth and uniform in both colour and texture. If their nose has begun to dry out, flake or crust, then there is something amiss. Sometimes, there is an obvious reason for this, such as when a dog has been injured or has become sunburnt. On other occasions, there is not a clear reason for the change and vets may need to run some tests. For example, skin disorders and autoimmune diseases can cause the nose to look abnormal.
While allergic skin disease tends to affect the skin, ears and anal glands, sometimes the nose is also affected. This is most often the case when a dog is very irritated and itchy and begins to rub their nose on hard surfaces. These dogs will usually have skin that is red raw and sore and may also have secondary bacterial infections.
Lupus or Pemphigus
These are auto-immune disorders which can cause a myriad of symptoms, one of which is a crusty, ulcerated nose. To reach a diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment, it is normally necessary for a vet to biopsy the nose under anaesthetic.
A skin disorder called zinc responsive dermatosis is most commonly found in Siberian Huskies and can affect a dog in many ways, one of which is crusting around the nose.
Some brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds such as Pugs, Shih Tzus and Frenchies are actually unable to lick their noses because of the shape of their head. This leads to chronic dryness and cracking. Some can even develop infections because the skin becomes so damaged.
What can I do about my dog’s dry cracked nose?
What we do will depend on what the diagnosis is. For those with underlying health issues, we’ll need to treat the primary issue in order for the nose to return to its former shiny self.
In those dogs who are simply prone to a dry nose (whether it be due to their breed or conformation), there are a number of things which can help.
- Ensure they have a nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals and that they are drinking plenty of water
- Avoid sun damage by keeping them out of direct sunlight during the hottest times of the day
- Ask your vet if a prescription cream may help, especially if the dry nose appears to irritate your dog
Remember, most dogs can easily lick their noses so any creams, balms or ointments we put on them must be non-toxic as they are likely to be ingested.
Most of the time, if the dry nose is not causing an issue, there is no need to do anything at all!
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