Dog noses come in all sizes and colors, from black to pink and from very small to wide.
And while they may be so different in appearance, they all share the same function, enriching your dog’s life with a keen sense of smell.
To do that, a dog’s nose needs to be cool and clammy to the touch, but is that really the case?
Should a dog’s nose be cold?
Actually, dogs’ noses are supposed to be cold and wet with a temperature of about 101°F. The cold enhances your ability to navigate your environment and regulates your body temperature.
However, the news investigation found that the nose is unlikely to play a significant role in regulating body heat due to its small size, giving the lie to earlier theories.
They suggest that it helps dogs detect faint heat sources even from five feet away.
The tip of a dog’s nose is considerably cooler than ambient temperature, making it sensitive to radiant heat.
Dog noses are much cooler than those of herbivores, so this sensory function may serve as a tool for better hunting rather than simply regulating body temperature.
The fact that the nose is always cold makes it incredibly ineffective at dissipating excess body heat compared to the tongue, which is always hot and wet.
To keep it cool, your dog has to constantly moisten his nose.
The moisture will evaporate and keep the nose cool in a similar way to what your dog is trying to achieve by panting.
This allows your dog to have a cooler nose even on hot days.
But what if your dog’s nose suddenly feels hotter than normal?
Should a dog’s nose be warm?
A dog’s nose shouldn’t be hot for an extended period of time, but hourly temperature fluctuations are normal and don’t necessarily indicate a health problem.
This means that a healthy dog’s nose may be hot, while a sick dog’s nose may be cold and clammy.
It is always important to look at your dog as a whole and assess his health based on all of his symptoms.
If your dog has a fever, is vomiting, or is feeling lethargic, it’s important to take him to the vet for a checkup.
Instead of temperature and humidity, focus on the skin around the dog’s nose.
If you see any lumps, swelling, or sores, it’s best to get it checked out by a professional.
It’s completely normal for a clear discharge to come out of your dog’s nose, but you should watch for pus, blood, and thick mucus.
These can be caused by inflammation, tumors, allergies, and much more.
Read my article on 10 types of unhealthy dog noses to learn their signs and meanings.
What does it mean when a dog’s nose is wet?
Dogs’ noses are often wet, as odor particles are much more likely to stick to wet surfaces than dry ones, helping your dog gather more information from his surroundings.
The nose is lined with special glands that produce mucus throughout the day.
You may observe your dog licking his nose several times an hour, which distributes mucus and keeps his nose moist.
However, dogs’ noses are not wet all the time.
If your dog has not been able to lick its nose, for example while sleeping, it will feel much drier.
This is not a cause for concern and your dog will go back to running his nose after waking up.
A long walk outside or an extensive gaming session can also leave your nose quite dry, especially on a hot or very cold day.
In the warmer months, you should watch your dog’s drinking habits and carefully monitor his nose for signs of dehydration.
Although humidity greatly improves your dog’s olfactory abilities, a lack of it doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is ill.
Signs like dryness or cracking can be symptoms of underlying health issues, but often your dog just needs a good moisturizer.
Keep in mind that some dog breeds have drier noses than others.
This can include brachycephalic breeds, as they often have a hard time licking their noses.
Other breeds, like the Lhasa Apso, are prone to blocked tear ducts, which can lead to a dry nose.
Are puppies’ noses supposed to be warm?
Puppies’ noses are not supposed to be hot and are also not an indication of their body heat, which should be measured with a digital rectal thermometer.
Newborn pups are not actually capable of regulating their body temperature and rely on warmth from their mother and littermates.
For the first week, a puppy should have a temperature of around 94-97°F.
They should be a few degrees warmer during the second and third week (97-100°F).
The pups reach their adult body temperature during the fourth week.
It is very important to closely monitor a puppy’s temperature to find a “normal” range for each puppy, as they can be slightly different.
Young puppies are also more susceptible to fever and hypothermia, which require veterinary attention.
A pup still living with its littermates and its mother may have a hot nose from sleeping, playing, or simply nuzzling its mother’s fur.
If you have brought home a puppy with a hot nose, this does not necessarily mean that it is sick.
Puppies are always playing, exploring, and napping, so a warm, dry nose is usually not a cause for concern if he’s not showing other symptoms or behavior changes.
Warm Dry Nose Lethargy for Dogs
If your dog has a hot, dry nose and is feeling lethargic, the symptom you need to focus on the most is usually lethargy.
All humans and dogs have days when they feel a little under the weather and sleepy but persistent lethargy is cause for concern.
Your dog may not be interested in things he normally enjoys (playing, walking, sniffing) and refuses to get out of bed.
You may also feel very weak and may even refuse to eat and/or drink.
Lethargy can have a lot of causes including pain, illness, medication, toxin, infection, etc.
It’s impossible to find the underlying problem without a veterinary exam and lab work.
Take your dog to the vet as quickly as possible in case he ate something he shouldn’t or is suffering from life-threatening illnesses or infections.
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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