Why Your Pet’s Cold, Wet Nose Matters

Dr Amelia Bunker, Resident Veterinarian - Knose Pet Insurance

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Dr. Amelia Bunker

Dr. Amelia Bunker (BVSc), our resident veterinarian at Knose, blends her passion for animal care with her expertise in veterinary science. Her journey from mixed practice clinics to insurance expert motivates her dedication to animal welfare, both in her professional role and as a pet owner.

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Your dog can’t tell you when they’re feeling unwell. It’s up to you to read the signs. Many pet owners incorrectly assume that if the nose is wet then the dog is healthy, but that’s not necessarily true. Animals can often hide their illness, or may not give a second thought to being in pain. Since they can’t communicate with you, you need to be able to identify symptoms.

So, Why is Your Pet’s Nose Wet? 

First: why is your pet’s nose so cold and wet? Is their nose constantly running? What a nightmare. 

No. Dogs lick their noses to keep them moisturized because it enhances their sense of smell. A cold, wet nose captures scent particles and allows a dog to get a better handle on where a scent is coming from and how strong that scent is. But the moisture isn’t just coming from within, your dog is keeping its nose wet. It may wet its nose more frequently if it’s “hunting” something down, or it may have a dry nose when it sleeps. 

As humans, we generally rely upon our eyesight to tell us more about the world. For dogs and cats, their noses are their eyes. Our pets’ sense of smell is one of the most important ways that they experience the world. Cats, their nose has over 200 million scent receptors. Dogs are similar. They are able to chart out a world, unlike the one that we see.

Have you ever heard a story about a dog running away during a move and finding its old home, thousands of miles away? Dogs are able to do this because of their ability to track scents. Likewise, dogs often identify us and each other by their scent. If you haven’t seen your dog for a while, you may notice that he or she sniffs around you for a while before they are able to recognise you.

That’s not the only purpose of a cold nose. A cold, wet nose also helps keep your pet cool. Dogs can’t sweat the way that humans do. Instead, they need to lose heat through evaporation. This is why dogs pant when they’re hot, and why your dog may start licking his nose more frequently when it’s hotter.

A cold nose can also be an indication factor that your pet is generally feeling unwell. If your pet normally keeps his or her nose moistened, and has suddenly stopped, it could be that they’re feeling ill. You always need to be wary of the signs and assess your dog’s overall disposition. 

A Dry Nose isn’t Necessarily Abnormal

Since a wet or dry nose is something obvious that a pet owner can notice, it makes sense that many pet owners latch onto the nose as a key distinguishing feature. But a wet nose isn’t always a good thing, nor is a dry nose always a bad thing. It really depends on your pet and other behaviour patterns. Regular veterinary check-ups can help you identify problems with your pet before they become serious.

If a dog’s nose is running rather than wet, it could indicate some type of illness or disease. Just like humans, a dog’s nose can run due to upper respiratory infections or other illnesses. Remember: your pet manually wets its nose with its tongue. There shouldn’t be any leaking involved! If your pet’s nose is leaking, you may see them licking it more frequently in order to clean it.

But a dry nose might not be such a bad thing either. Some pets naturally have dry noses. If your pet isn’t interested in its surroundings or looking for something (such as prey, or food), it may not be interested in the scents around it. If it’s hotter than normal, your pet may also have a dry nose more frequently. And while it isn’t great to keep a pet in hot conditions for long, it’s sometimes natural, especially during the height of summer.

In reality, what pet owners should be looking out for is whether their pet has changed. If your dog usually has a wet nose but now it’s bone dry, it could indicate that your dog isn’t feeling very well. If your dog usually has a dry nose and it’s dripping wet, it could mean that there’s an illness or allergy at play.

If you do notice any unusual symptoms with your pet, you should contact your vet. 

Because pets can’t communicate, sometimes their illness can be significantly progressed by the time they start showing any outward symptoms. While this is more true of cats than dogs (cats tend to hide while sick, while many dogs will try to let you know they aren’t feeling well), dogs may not be able to express that they’re suffering.

And while going to the vet can be expensive, having the right pet wellness plan can make things easier — and that’s where Knose comes in.

Why Knowing the Difference Keeps Your Pet Healthy 

So if a cold, wet nose doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet is healthy, and a warm, dry nose in isolation doesn’t mean that your pet is unwell, you need to be a little more conscientious about noticing when things are potentially wrong with your pet. 

Your dog’s nose is a unique and special thing! Just like human fingerprints, no two dogs have the same nose. Their cute, and sometimes cold, wet noses have a unique design of dimples, dots and ridges. It may come as a surprise but their paw prints are not really unique at all. It is their nose that can actually be used to identify one dog from another. 

We call ourselves “Knose” because we are in the business of knowing pet wellness. At Knose, we know that every pet is unique and that pet care means knowing more about your pet as an individual. We don’t have as good of a “nose” as our pets, but we do feel like we “Knose” our industry.

We understand that pet care can be overwhelming and often hard to keep track of. As a pet parent, you have to know exactly what your pet needs (and when they need it). That’s why we provide individualised pet wellness plans to mitigate certain emergencies. They are tailored by your vet for your pet’s needs and give you some peace of mind.  Ask your vet about Knose Wellness Plans today! 

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