Most dog parents, at least once or twice, have been startled awake by a cool, wet nudge to their face. Sometimes it tickles. Sometimes it stuns. But, it’s always a sign that your dog loves you. But, why exactly do dogs have wet noses?
Well, there are several reasons dogs have wet noses, including:
Your dog’s nose is so lick-able.
Have you ever stopped to watch how often your dog licks his nose in one day? Try keeping track one day. He probably licks his nose much more than you would think. Dogs often lick their nose multiple times when eating and drinking, to grab those final stray crumbs or dabs of water after a meal. Dogs typically lick to keep their noses clean.
Your dog picks it all up.
A dog’s nose isn’t just lick-able. It also picks up plenty of dirt, debris, and moisture – rain, snow, water from puddles – from the ground. That’s also another reason your dog has a wet nose.
Your dog is cooling himself down.
Dogs, unlike people, cannot sweat. Instead, dogs cool themselves down in several ways, such as panting and releasing moisture through the paws. That moisture is also released through a dog’s nose. If your dog’s nose is wetter than normal on a hot day, he may just be trying to cool down.
Your dog may be sick.
A wet nose may be normal. But, does your dog also have discharge coming out of that wet nose? If he does, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. He may be sick.
Alternately, your dog’s nose may signal that there’s something wrong even if it is not wet. If your dog’s nose is uncharacteristically warm or if it is wet and has cracks in the skin, he could be sick.
Your dog may be tracking something.
Dogs, especially those with the hunting instinct, use their noses to track scents. That’s why bloodhounds and other breeds of dog are trained and used to track the scent of missing people and to find illegal drugs. Some experts assert that the dampness of a dog’s nose helps enhance the dog’s scent.
Your dog’s nose is covered with mucus.
Sure, it may sound, well, kind of gross but the mucus on your dog’s nose is necessary. However, it is not there all of the time. When your dog is tracking a scent, his nose will automatically create a light layer of mucus. The mucus makes it much easier for your dog to smell because it allows the nose to absorb the chemicals in scents.
A dog’s nose has a lot of responsibilities. It helps regulate the body’s temperature. It offers warning signs that there may be health issues and that nose of your dog’s could very well save a missing person.
If your dog begins to show signs of illness – a warm nose, a cracked nose, or lethargy – head to the vet as soon as possible.