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What is Having a Dry Nose?

A dry nose in dogs is not usually a cause for concern unless your dog has other symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. In fact, many dogs can have warm, dry noses all the time. On the other hand, your dog may have a cold and wet nose when she is perfectly healthy as well. Similar to humans, a dog’s nose is just skin and is not an indication of her health. However, your dog’s nose also has tear ducts that allow tears to flow through the nose (from the eyes) when there is an overproduction of tears. That being said, sometimes dogs can have a dry nose because of an illness or condition such as:

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune condition
  • Cancer
  • Chapped skin
  • Dehydration
  • Dermatitis
  • Infection

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Why Having a Dry Nose Occurs in Dogs


Although allergies can happen to any breed, sex, or age of dog, the most commonly affected breeds are:

  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Wirehaired Fox Terriers
  • Shih Tzus
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Dalmatians
  • Chinese Shar-Peis
  • Boxers
  • Boston Terrier

Autoimmune Condition (discoid lupus erythematosus)

Sometimes your dog’s immune system believes that your dog’s skin is an intruder and needs to be attacked. This causes a cracked and dry nose with peeling and the skin turns gray instead of its usual color. Lesions and open sores may also be visible. German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Shetland Sheepdog, Siberian Huskies, Shelties, and Collies are most commonly affected but it can occur in any breed. Sunlight is thought to be the cause.


Squamous skin cell carcinoma in dogs is a malignant tumor of the skin. It is not a common occurrence but some breeds are more susceptible such as:

  • Dachshunds
  • Greyhounds
  • Setters
  • Labradors
  • Standard Poodles

Chapped Skin

This condition causes your dog’s nose to get dry and cracked due to changes in temperature. It usually happens in the winter when your dog goes out in the cold air. Another thing that exacerbates this condition is the dry heat used to heat your house. You may need to get a hydrator in the room where your dog usually spends most of her time.


Your dog can get dehydrated from being outside in the heat, in a stuffy and hot room with no air circulation, or when she does not have enough fresh water. If your dog is dehydrated or overheated, the nose will be red and flaky as well as dry and hot.


There are several types of dermatitis such a solar dermatitis from the sun, dermal arteritis from the arteries that is hereditary in Saint Bernards and Schnauzers, and parasympathetic denervation from hypothyroidism or dry eyes. Some breeds are more susceptible than others, which include:

  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Great Danes
  • Huskies


There are several kinds of infection that can affect the skin of the nose. Some of these include bacterial, like staph, folliculitis, and pyoderma; fungal, such as ringworm or yeast; and viral. An infection usually causes more than just a dry nose. There are usually signs of lethargy, redness, flaking, abrasions, and fever.

What to do if your Dog is Having a Dry Nose

In most cases, you probably do not need to take your dog to see a veterinary care provider. However, if your dog is showing other signs of illness such as being overly tired, has a loss of appetite, or just seems ill, you should call the veterinarian and make an appointment. A physical examination can help give you peace of mind right away whether your dog is ill or not. Some of these illnesses can be debilitating if not treated right away, so the veterinary care provider can perform a physical assessment and some diagnostic and laboratory tests to make sure your dog is healthy. If not, the veterinarian should be able to treat the problem.

Prevention of Having a Dry Nose

As with any illness, prevention starts with paying attention to your dog on a daily basis and seeing your veterinary care provider if needed. In addition, you should bring your dog to see the veterinarian at least once per year for a check-up. Also, you can put Vaseline on your dog’s nose if she will be out in extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot.

Cost of Having a Dry Nose

Since a dry nose is normally not a crisis, many of these conditions can be treated by an over the counter ointment or cream. The veterinarian can suggest or provide the right kind of medication you should use. If your dog has allergies, the process of determining what the trigger is can be costly, around $2,500 to $3,000. An autoimmune system condition can cost about $1,000 for tests and medications. Cancer is costly, but may be easily treated for less than a few thousand dollars. Chapped skin and dehydration can be taken care of instantly by you for about $5. Dermatitis is treated with medication which will cost about $200 with the office examination and tests. Infections can vary from $200 for an ointment and antibiotic for a mild bacterial or fungal infection.