The cold, wet feeling of your pets’ nose can give you quite a surprise when they come up to give you a little sniff or a lick. Especially if you're not expecting it. Even pet parents who love their furry friends dearly often find the wet nose a little gross. While most people know that their dogs or cats noses should be wet, many don’t really understand why.
A wet nose is important for the health of your pet, and we’ll explain why, here.
Why are Dog Noses Wet?
A dog’s nose is kept wet by secreting a thin layer of mucus, which may be the primary source for the moisture. For most dogs, however, the mucus is heavily supplemented by regular licking, which adds saliva.
Finally, a dog has sweat glands in their nose, which adds additional wetness when the animal is warm.
While a cool, wet nose is what most people think of as normal with dogs, it isn’t always a sign of a problem if the nose dries out. This is just a common misconception that people have. A dog may have a dry nose for multiple reasons, including the following:
- After a Nap – Dogs don’t lick their nose much while sleeping, and they are relaxed so their body temperature may drop, thus reducing the sweat. This can result in the nose being dry for some time after a long rest.
- Humidity in the Air – If you live in an area with low humidity, this will cause the moisture on your dog’s nose to quickly evaporate. This can result in a dryer than normal nose for your dog.
- Breed – The breed of your dog will also have an impact on the wetness of their nose. Dogs with shorter snouts (pugs, bulldogs, etc) often have drier noses than other breeds.
- Age – As dogs get older, they often lick their nose less, and sweat less, which will result in a drier nose.
When it comes to your dog’s health, the main thing you want to watch out for is a sudden and unexplained change in the wetness of your dog’s nose. If this change lasts for more than a day or two, it would make sense to get in touch with your vet to see if there is a cause for concern. This is especially true if your dog is showing other symptoms of health problems such as being lethargic, not eating, throwing up, or experiencing pain.
Why are Cat Noses Wet?
Cat’s noses aren’t usually as obviously wet as a dog’s, but they are still quite moist. Just like with dogs, the wetness of your cat’s nose can change significantly for a variety of reasons. While a wet nose is the norm, a dry nose isn’t automatically a cause for concern in a cat either. The following are some common reasons a cat’s nose might be dryer than normal:
- Grooming – Cat saliva can actually dry out the nose. If they have just finished grooming themselves, it is not uncommon for the nose to seem dry for a while.
- Dehydration – Many cat’s aren’t as vocal about being out of water as they are when they are out of food. If your cat doesn’t have access to water, they could become dehydrated, which can cause their nose to be dry. If this continues for extended periods of time, it can cause serious health problems.
- Laying Near a Heat Source – Cats love laying in the sun and other warm areas. These heat sources can quickly dry out your cat’s nose. This is not something to be concerned about at all.
- Injury – Cats love play fighting (or even real fighting), jumping around, and taking risks. While not common, this can result in a scratch or swelling in or around the nose. This can result in it becoming dry in some cases. This isn't anything to be worried about as long as it doesn't become infected.
Track Your Pet's Nose
All pet owners should keep track of how their animal looks, feels, and behaves. Part of this is keeping track of the wetness of their nose. While most of the time a dry nose on a cat or a dog is no big deal, being able to tell your vet when it started to become dry, the normal wetness of the nose, and other details can be very helpful if there is a cause for concern.
If you’re ever worried about the health of your pet, it is best to contact a vet right away so they can look into problems before they become serious.