Why do dogs have wet noses? This is a question I often hear, from new dog moms to veteran dog moms. A lot of dog owners may understand that a wet nose is usually a healthy nose. Understanding why this is will keep you well-informed. We will go into why dogs noses get wet and why their noses have to be wet to be healthiest.
So why do dogs have wet noses?
Dogs have wet noses because it simply works better for them. A dog’s sense of smell is very important to everything they do. Their brain focuses more on what they smell than why they see. As a dog inhales a scent, it travels to their nasal cavity. This nasal cavity has two chambers and contains more than 220 million olfactory receptors. We only have around 5 million!
Mucus traps these scent particles inside their nasal chambers while the olfactory receptors process them. Dogs also have an olfactory chamber called Jacobson’s organ. This organ (also called the vomeronasal organ) is at the bottom of their nasal cavity. It has two fluid-filled sacs, so dogs can both smell and taste at the same time.
A dog’s nose works substantially better when it is damp because scent particles stick better to damp surfaces. Additionally, wet noses help keep a dog cool. Dogs pant and dissipate heat through their paw pads. Another little known fact is that they use the nasal passages as a cooling mechanism as well!
Therefore, having a wet nose is essential to their survival because a wet nose works better.
How do dogs noses get wet?
Dogs secrete mucus. The inner lining in their noses contains special glands. These glands produce music to keep a dog’s nasal canal moist. A thin layer of mucus clings to their nostrils. This increases the absorption of scent chemicals and improves a pup’s smelling abilities. Additionally, these gland produce clear, watery fluid that helps dogs in the cool process by evaporation.
Dogs also lick their noses. Their tongues are long enough to easily reach the tips of their noses. They need to keep their noses clean because of all the scents they take in throughout the day. So this doubles as a way to clean their nose, and it also enhances their sense of smell by facilitating the function of the Jacobsen’s organ we discussed. Most dogs will automatically lick their nose when they feel like it’s dry.
A dog’s nose get wet while they are using it to understand the world. They use their nose to investigate smells and because of this they pick up moisture from the environment.
What if my dog has a dry nose?
This does not necessarily mean they are sick. It is true that a dry nose can be an indicator of a fever or sunburn, but some dogs have naturally dryer noses. They could be super healthy and just have a dry nose. Or, vice-versa, they could have a wet nose and be sick. If there are additional symptoms besides a dry nose or if you notice something off like discharge, definitely consult your veterinarian to have it checked out.