In the dog, the olfactory system (or sense of smelling) is the primary sense and it is very efficient. In fact, about 30 percent of their brain is designated to analyzing odor. This is almost forty times more sensitive than that of a human. The nose of a healthy dog can fluctuate between wet and dry frequently during the day, depending on several factors. Most people have always wondered why their dog’s nose is wet and cold most of the time. Here’s why:
Your dog’s nose has a layer of mucus that appears naturally at the tip of his nostrils. This helps to catch scents and enhance the detection of odors. The pet’s tear ducts also produce moisture that runs into its nasal cavity on its way to the entrance of the nostril. Here it helps to absorb irritants like pollen.
Dogs have been known to lick their noses every now and then, which also contribute to their wet and cold muzzles. One of the reasons behind this habit is that dogs have long snouts and noses, which tend to get dirty very easily particularly when they are rooting around in food. Licking is just part of their cleaning process. Another reason dogs lick their noses is to wipe off the scent chemicals contained in the mucus mentioned above to allow the olfactory glands located at the roof of their mouth to sample them.
To cool the body
One obvious reason your dog’s nose is cold is due to the fact that it is not covered in fur. The normal temperature of a healthy dog is 101 to 102.5 degrees F. If you record higher temperatures on your dog’s nose, it may be a sign of fever. The muzzle’s smooth texture and moistness make it feel cooler than it really
Moisture from environment
Dogs that spend time outdoors usually have the habit of sniffing their environment. During this process, their noses naturally pick up moisture from plants, grasses, the ground, and other sources in their surroundings. This contributes to their cold and wet noses as well.
While your dog’s nose is supposed to be moist, it should not be dripping or running. This could signify the presence of an irritant, tumor, or infection. One precautionary measure you can take is keeping potential irritants like household chemicals, grass piles, and strongly scented flowers away from your dog’s reach. You should also safely discard hazardous materials like sharp objects, strings, and broken glass instead of leaving them in the household trash, where your dog can poke his head inside for a sniff.
Although a cold and wet nose is usually associated with good health, it is not always the case and neither is vice versa. There are certain instances when your dog may have a warm nose but is perfectly healthy, particularly when he is alert and acting normally. But there are a number of signs you should watch out for in an unhealthy dog. These include:
- Poor appetite
- Acting painful
- Cracked nose or scabs and sores on the nose
- Presence of nasal discharge
- Redness or flaking skin around the nose
Keep in mind that these signs also apply for a wet and cool nose, and should warrant an immediate visit to the veterinarian.