10 Types of Unhealthy Dog Noses and What They Mean



The nose is such an important part of the dog’s body and they fully rely on it for their amazing sense of smell.


To maximize the absorption of different odors, your dog will lick his nose many times a day.


Combined with nasal fluids and tears, your dog’s nose will always remain wet to attract those odor particles and cool it down.

But sometimes things can go wrong and the nose can become dry, cracked or swollen.

A change in pigmentation or even bleeding will worry every dog ​​owner.

Although the nose cannot be taken as the only indicator of your pet’s health, this additional symptom can give you some clues.

Below, I’ve compiled 10 types of “unhealthy” dog noses and the conditions they might indicate.

1. Dry dog ​​nose

Although dogs’ noses are often wet and cold, discovering dry skin on the nose isn’t necessarily a cause for concern and doesn’t mean your dog is sick.

A dog’s nose can definitely be drier from time to time, especially if they just woke up or have been playing outside.

If your dog hasn’t had enough to drink or has suffered from vomiting or diarrhea, his nose may be dry from mild dehydration.

Dog nose wrapped in white blankets.
Photo by Aleksey Boyko from Shutterstock

Some dogs are really bad drinkers, so you may want to look for tricks that will trick your dog into drinking more water.

It is very important to regularly moisturize your dog’s paws and nose to prevent them from drying out.

Also, dryness can indicate fever, allergies and various autoimmune diseases.

You always have to look at your dog as a whole.

If a dry nose is accompanied by lethargy, vomiting, or loss of appetite, you’ll need to contact your vet.

2. Cracked dog nose

When dogs’ noses become severely dry, they can become cracked or scaly.

Again, this probably just means your dog’s nose could use a good moisturizer, but it doesn’t hurt to consider the possibility that it could indicate an underlying health condition.

One of these conditions is called nasal hyperkeratosis, where an excessive amount of crust forms on a dog’s nose with no known cause.

It is not a dangerous condition and applying moisturizer 2-3 times a day should be enough to remove the scab.

Dry eyes are another possible cause, and you may be wondering how that could affect the moisture level in your nose.

Dogs actually have narrow tubes that allow tears to drain from their eyes to their nose and mouth.

Blocked tear ducts could, among other things, lead to a dry, cracked nose.

3. Runny Dog Nose

Just like humans, dogs can also have runny nose.

This is most commonly caused by allergies to pollen, food, chemicals, or any other irritants.

The discharge is usually watery and clear and is accompanied by other symptoms such as puffy eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, and watery eyes.

A runny nose can occur during the spring, which would indicate seasonal allergies, or after your dog has come into contact with a certain fabric.

Seasonal allergies can be controlled with oral medications that contain antihistamines if necessary.

Food allergies are also pretty easy to spot, but finding the ingredient your dog is allergic to can be really difficult.

The only way to eliminate food allergies is to feed him a special diet that is usually made up of a rare meat source (kangaroo, venison) and a carbohydrate.

Alternatively, a hydrolyzed hypoallergenic diet might be worth a try.

The ingredient combinations will be tested within a certain trial period until you can find the culprit.

Obviously, it’s best to do this with a certified pet nutritionist or a veterinarian who specializes in canine nutrition.

If your dog’s nasal discharge isn’t clear and runny, read more on that topic below.

4. Pigmentation of the dog’s nose

Anytime there is a visible change in your dog’s body, it is something to investigate.

Although most pigmentation changes are harmless, they can still tell you something about your dog.

During your dog’s life, he may develop a completely different nose color compared to when he was a puppy.

Pink or neutral-toned noses are a common occurrence in puppies and young dogs and most will outgrow that color.

This is a normal process and there is no reason to worry.

Like pink noses, some breeds can develop different colors depending on the seasons.

There is something called a dudley nose which is the result of loss of pigmentation due to disease or environmental influences.

The usually black nose begins to turn pink in the middle, extending outward to cover almost the entire nose.

Breeds like the Siberian Husky or Labrador Retriever can also develop a snow or winter nose that returns to its natural color in spring.

As mentioned above, nasal hyperkeratosis can also lead to pigmentation changes, including unhealed sores and scaling.

Close-up of my Rottweiler's black nose and the area surrounding the dog's healthy nose.
My Rottweiler’s nose after a nap

5. Hot dog nose

Since dog noses are often cold, feeling heat in your dog’s nose can be very concerning.

Fortunately, a hot dog nose is rarely a cause for concern and just has a few underlying issues.

Usually, if you notice a rise in temperature, your dog has been out in the sun for too long.

Although this is easily fixable, prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to overheating, so always be careful when your dog is sunbathing.

If it’s not hot outside or your dog hasn’t been in direct sunlight, it can also mean he has a fever.

However, a hot nose does not mean that your dog is sick.

A dog’s nose temperature fluctuates hourly, so this is not necessarily an indicator of your dog’s health.

6. Bumps on the dog’s nose

The bumps usually appear out of nowhere and can look like super swollen, red cysts or they can be small and skin tone.

Most of them go away on their own, but others can be more worrisome.

Rapid fur growth of any type should always be closely monitored to see if it changes and how bothersome it is to your dog.

Dogs stick their noses everywhere and sometimes get bitten by insects, poison ivy or nettles.

Histiocytoma and papilloma, for example, seem incredibly worrisome, but fortunately, they are benign skin tumors most commonly seen in dogs under 3 years of age.

However, there are other skin tumors that are more damaging, so it is always recommended to take a biopsy and, if necessary, remove a lump or bump.

7. Dog Nosebleeds

One thing a dog never wants to see coming out of his pet’s nose is blood.

A bleeding nose is most commonly caused by trauma or an upper respiratory tract infection.

If your dog has been in an accident, immediate veterinary attention will be necessary.

You can try to stop the bleeding by placing a wrapped ice pack on your dog’s nose without covering the nostrils.

Other causes can include foreign objects, toxins, autoimmune diseases, tumors, hypertension, fungal infections, and more.

Breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, and Golden Retriever can suffer from a congenital bleeding disorder, which is a genetically inherited condition.

8. Swollen dog nose

A swollen dog nose can have many underlying causes that can lead to inflammation.

Sudden swelling can indicate an allergic reaction to pollen, food, medication, insect bites, or toxins.

Often the eyelids and muzzle are swollen as well, and red, irritated skin can be seen.

Dental problems like broken teeth or abscesses can also cause facial swelling.

Keep an eye out for any foreign objects that are stuck in your dog’s nose and take them to the vet for a clean removal.

A tumor in and around the nasal passage also causes swelling, but it is most commonly indicated by a nasal discharge that contains pus, blood, and mucus.

Viszla lying on the grass with a pink nose.

9. Sunburned Dog Nose

Anyone who has experienced a sunburn in their life probably remembers how uncomfortable and painful it feels.

Although dogs are almost completely covered in fur, there are still some spots that can get sunburned just like your own skin.

A dog with a light coat and light skin is at higher risk of sunburn.

Ares around the ears, eyes, belly, and nose are especially prone to irritation.

If you notice redness or cracked skin on your dog’s nose, it might be time to move him out of direct sunlight.

Your dog may also be excessively scratching or licking his nose.

In more severe cases there may be skin peeling or blistering which is definitely very uncomfortable for a dog’s sensitive nose.

Some common home remedies include aloe vera and coconut oil, but it’s always best to take your dog to the vet.

10. Small nostrils

The nostrils and mouth are the only openings that can admit air into the lungs.

It goes without saying that in order to achieve sufficient airflow, the nostrils must be a certain size in both humans and dogs.

Narrow nostrils, also called stenotic nares, are part of the Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) that more commonly affects brachycephalic breeds.

There are a total of 24 dog breeds with this conformation, including the Bulldog, Pug, Boxer, French Bulldog, and Boston Terrier.

If you own one of these breeds, you may have already noticed the small nostrils that are the result of a shorter skull and longer lower jaw.

Dogs with narrow nostrils often snore, pant constantly, and may not be as active as other dogs.

They may also suffer from skin or eye conditions and even neurological and behavioral problems.

If your dog suffers a lot from stenotic nostrils, surgery is a possible option to widen the nostrils and promote better airflow.

Weight needs to be closely monitored in these breeds and you should also swap out the collar for a harness that isn’t as restrictive.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for veterinary care and is not intended to be. I am not a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet.



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