Pet parents generally associate dry noses with sick dogs, so it’s great to have a dry dog nose remedy on hand we can use in a pinch. Of course, a good moisturizing dog paw balm is equally good on a dog’s nose to seal in moisture and protect it against the elements, just as it protects their paws from dryness and cracking.
We definitely recommend it in extremely cold or hot temperatures when the air is dry and our canines often suffer from dry and cracked noses. But should a dog’s nose always be moist? Previously we covered reasons a dog may have a runny nose. While nasal discharge is usually a sign of a health issue, a dry nose is a bit more complicated.
To answer what we should do about dogs’ dry, cracked, or crusty noses, we will first look at Ear, Nose, Throat, and Tracheobronchial Diseases in Dogs and Cats by Dr. Anjop Venker-van Haagen. Then we will look at natural home remedies for dry dog noses.
So, what are the best remedies for a dog’s dry nose?
The best way to treat a dry nose at home is to keep a dog hydrated, use a humidifier to avoid dry air, and apply safe moisturizers and balms. One must also check for underlying health conditions like immune disorders, hypothyroidism, fevers, or allergies. Nasal hyperkeratinization may take some extra care.
But to understand dry noses, we need to first understand why the nasal planum (the tip of a dog’s nose that is usually moist) is wet in the first place.
Why are dogs’ noses usually wet?
A dog’s nose is wet due to the production of mucus, which helps to keep the nose moist and trap particles, such as dirt and bacteria. The mucus layer on a dog’s nose also helps to enhance their sense of smell, as it captures scent particles and delivers them to the olfactory receptors in the nose. In other words, a wet nose helps a dog smell better and further.
So dry noses in old dogs are one reason senior dogs lose their sense of smell. In addition to mucus production, a dog’s nose may also be wet due to saliva. Dogs have a habit of licking their noses, which can add moisture and make their nose appear wet.
Why does a dog’s nose become dry?
When a dog’s nose becomes dry, it is usually due to a decrease in mucus production or a loss of moisture from the nose surface. There can also be medical conditions like a fever, an immune disease, or allergies that cause the mucosal surface to dry out. Dry noses are common in short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds and older dogs.
A dry nose alone does not indicate that a dog is sick. If you suspect a dog is dehydrated, instead look at their gums. Pale gums or a white tongue indicate severe anemia and a potential emergency.
But let’s look at the most common reason a dog’s nose dries out, leading to cracking, lesions, or crusty scabs in severe cases.
What causes a dog’s nose to be dry? 9 common reasons
Dry noses in dogs can be caused by various factors, ranging from environmental to underlying medical conditions. It’s important to know what causes a dry nose if you want to find the right remedy for it. If you are wondering, “Why is my dog’s nose dry and cracked?” Here are some of the most common causes of dry noses in dogs:
One of the most common causes of dry noses in dogs is dehydration. If your dog is not drinking enough water or is losing fluids due to illness or exercise, it can cause its nose to dry out.
Checking a dog’s gums is a good way to determine if they are dehydrated. Here’s how to check a dog’s gums for dehydration:
Press your finger on the dog’s gums and then release it. The spot where you pressed should turn white and then return to its normal color within 1-2 seconds. If it takes longer than 2 seconds for the spot to return to its normal color, it may indicate dehydration. Dry or sticky gums are also a sign of dehydration.
2. Weather & dry air
Dry, hot, or cold weather can also cause a dog’s nose to become dry. This is especially true in the winter when the air is dry, and heaters are running, or if your dog is lying near a fire.
Allergies can cause a dog’s nose to become dry and itchy. Common allergens include pollen, dust, and mold.
Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned, and it can cause their noses to become dry, red, and cracked. Below is a picture of a dog with a crusty, dry, sunburned nose.
5. Nasal Hyperkeratosis
This issue is more common in short-nosed breeds and in older dogs. The nasal planum (the black part of the muzzle with the nostrils that we recognize as the nose) becomes crusty or flaky with keratin. It may also get tufts of hairlike protrusions. Below is a picture of a short-nosed breed with a dry, crusty nose from nasal hyperkeratosis.
Another common medical condition that causes dry noses in dogs is hypothyroidism. It usually leads to a lack of energy, thinning hair, and flaky skin, but dry noses are also common symptoms since there is a lack of blood flow to the skin. It also weakens their immune system, making them more prone to infection.
So if you’re googling, “my dog has a dry nose and no energy,” it may be time to check their thyroid.
Leishmaniasis is a protozoan parasitic infection that dogs get from sand flies. It causes (among other things), crusty noses with lesions. If you have sandflies in your area, see our article on keeping gnats off dogs safely.
8. Immune diseases
Some immune diseases cause dry, cracking or crusty noses in dogs that may also leak pus. Two major immune conditions that can cause this are systemic lupus erythematosus and pemphigus.
Older dogs may be more prone to dry noses due to age-related changes in their bodies. As dogs age, their bodies undergo several changes that can affect their skin, including hormonal changes that leads to less mucus production.
How to treat a dry nose in dogs at home
Suppose you’re wondering, “What natural remedies can I use for my dog’s dry nose?”. In that case, The good news is that several safe and effective home remedies can help moisturize a dog’s nose. Here are the basic steps for dry noses and what you need to know to prevent complications.
Check for Underlying Medical Conditions
Suppose your dog’s dry nose persists or is accompanied by other symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, lethargy, refusing to eat, or discharge. In that case, it may indicate an underlying medical condition. It’s important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to determine if their a health problem like an autoimmune disease and get your dog on the appropriate treatment if needed.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Ensure your dog has access to clean and fresh water at all times. If you notice that your dog is not drinking enough water, add some flavor to it by adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken or beef broth. This can encourage your dog to drink more water and stay hydrated.
You can also read our article on how to hydrate a dog, what dogs can drink besides water, and how long dogs can go without water.
Use a Humidifier
Dry air can also cause your dog’s nose to dry out. If your home is dry, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air. This can help to keep your dog’s nose moist and prevent it from drying out.
Apply a Dog Nose & Paw Balm
There are several nose balms available that can help to moisturize and soothe your dog’s dry nose. You can also mix one up in a pinch. Remember to be careful if your dog’s nose has lesions, sores, or cracks because applying a waxy or oily balm can seal the bacteria in and cause infection.
If your dog’s nose does have cracks, scabs, or sores, then see your vet about a steroidal or antibiotic cream to first kill any infection. Thereafter, you can put together your own natural remedy to moisturize the nose as well as seal it.
Natural home remedy for a dry dog nose (use to moisturize and protect):
We do not recommend coconut oil or olive as a base for the mixture for this dog dry nose remedy. Instead, we prefer beeswax and shea butter for this DIY dog nose balm. Beeswax has natural emollient properties that can help soften and protect the skin, and it can also help seal in moisture to prevent further dryness.
Here are the steps to use a beeswax or shea butter balm for a dog’s dry nose:
- Clean the nose: Before applying any treatment, it’s important to clean the dog’s nose with a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt, debris, or irritants. If your dog has nasal hyperkeratosis, then follow the steps below. Be sure to apply any necessary topical cream first.
- Melt the beeswax (if you’re using it): Melt a small amount of beeswax in a double boiler or in a microwave-safe container. Be sure to use caution when handling hot wax.
- Add your skin moisturizing ingredients: Good ingredients to add to your beeswax or shea butter base, include:
- A few drops of vitamin E
- Aloe vera gel for inflammation
- A touch of Argan oil
- Apply the beeswax or shea butter solution: Once you have safely mixed your ingredients, you can apply it to the nose (allow it to cool down to room temperature). Be sure to apply it evenly and gently, taking care not to cause any discomfort to the dog.
Repeat as needed: Depending on the severity of the dryness, you may need to apply the beeswax or shea butter nose balm several times a day to keep the nose moisturized.
- Treat any hyperkeratosis on the nose
If your dog has nasal hyperkeratosis, then treatment will need to happen frequently. Use a warm, wet cloth to soak the nose and soften the hard keratin flakes. After soaking, use a gentle exfoliating agent, such as a soft toothbrush or a cloth, to gently remove the thickened skin. Be gentle and take care not to cause any discomfort to your dog. Be sure to put a moisturizing balm on after.
- Prevent sun damage
Excessive exposure to sunlight can worsen nasal hyperkeratosis in dogs. Protect your dog’s nose from the sun by using a pet-safe sunscreen.
- Use a Saline Solution for allergens
A saline solution can help to flush out any irritants or allergens that may be causing your dog’s dry nose. Mix one teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water and use a dropper to apply a few drops to your dog’s nose. Be sure to use a clean dropper for each application.
Can I put Vaseline on my dog’s nose?
Many owners use Vaseline or petroleum jelly on their dog’s dry nose. However, we don’t recommend this as the vaseline can trap bacteria in any lesions or cracks, potentially creating a secondary infection. We also find that many types of petroleum jelly contain impurities that are not good for dogs, particularly as dogs tend to lick their noses and ingest any topical treatment. You can read more in this article on vaseline for dogs.
In conclusion, a dry nose in dogs can be a discomforting experience for your furry friend. However, there are several remedies available that can help to soothe and heal their nose. Remember to keep your dog hydrated, use a humidifier, apply a nose balm, use a saline solution, and check for underlying medical conditions. By following these remedies, you can help to keep your dog’s nose moist and healthy.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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