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Concerned owners frequently ask if a dry nose means a sick dog, and the short answer is no. There are many reasons for your dog to have a dry warm nose that has nothing to do with their health.
For example, a dry nose can simply result from a dog lying in the sun, near a source of heat, or in a room with poor air circulation. In fact, your dog's nose may vary from wet to dry several times over the course of a day.
Looking at a dog's nose is a good way to check for other problems. Dogs with pale or pink noses are susceptible to sunburn. If your dog has a dry, red nose or the nasal skin is flaking it may be that their nose is sunburnt.
Talk to your vet about what sort of suntan lotion to use on your dog. Protecting dogs that are susceptible to sunburn is important because repeated sunburn can lead to skin cancer. If your dog's nose is cracked and there are scabs or sores your dog may have a skin disorder and it would be wise to take them to the vet to get checked out.
When examining your dog's nose another thing to look for is a dog's nasal discharge. If your dog's nose runs, the mucus should be clear. If your dog is producing bubbly, thick, yellow, green or even black mucus you should certainly have them checked by a vet.
A runny nose could also indicate a health issue in a dog. Extra nasal discharge might indicate a serious underlying issue, such as an upper respiratory infection.
While typically a dog's wet — or dry — nose is nothing to be concerned about, it can be one subtle sign of a larger medical issue. Most often, if a dog's dry nose is something to be worried about, you'll see changes in your dog's behaviour, such as lethargy, poor appetite or vomiting, that indicates a visit to a vet is necessary. If your dog seems as spry as ever, it is likely nothing to be concerned about, but still worth monitoring just in case.
Sniffing out the true meaning of your dog's dry nose allows you to determine if they are healthy or if it is a symptom about which you should be concerned.