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For many dog owners, it’s one of life’s greatest joys: You enter a room and immediately your pooch is at your side and shoving his face into you, sniffing away with his cold, wet nose. It’s something that should probably feel disgusting, but instead it’s wonderful and endearing to have that slimy little thing all up in your business.

Have you ever wondered why dogs’ noses are wet, though? Your nose works perfectly fine dry, so what’s up with their sniffers? It turns out that there are many reasons for those wet noses — and a big misconception about what wet vs. dry noses really mean.

5 reasons your dog has a wet nose

Why are dogs’ noses wet? Let us count the reasons.

  1. Because they secrete mucus
    Before you get too grossed out that your pup has been rubbing her mucus-ridden schnoz all over you, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. When dogs are trying to follow a specific scent, their noses make a thin layer of mucus that allows them to actually absorb scent chemicals and, therefore, smell better.
  2. Because dogs tend to lick them a lot
    This one seems pretty straightforward, but there’s more to it — namely, why dogs lick their noses. There are two main reasons.

    First, because those long snouts and noses can get dirty pretty easily, especially when they’re rooting around in food. Licking cleans them off. Dogs also lick their noses because of the mucus mentioned above. Why? Because they can actually lick off those scent chemicals so that the olfactory glands on the roof of their mouth can sample them.

  3. Because it helps them to cool down
    Most dog owners know that dogs pant to cool off rather than sweating, but this isn’t strictly true. Dogs do actually sweat — by secreting moisture from their paws and their nose. A really wet nose may be Fido’s way of releasing heat after exerting himself.
  4. Because dogs’ noses tend to pick up moisture
    If you’ve ever watched your dog sniffing around outside, you know that it’s an “all-in” process where that nose is often being shoved right into grass, leaves, dirt, and so on. In doing this, dogs’ noses often pick up moisture from the environment, making them cold and wet.
  5. Because they’re born that way
    Certain dogs and dog breeds just have colder, wetter noses than others due to genetics and other factors.

A dry nose doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is sick

Now it’s time to dispel a myth. It’s likely that you’ve heard tales of how a hot, dry nose means that your dog is sick. In fact, you may have even spent some time in the vet’s office due to this little piece of acquired knowledge. However, it’s just an old wives’ tale.

Ask a vet and they will tell you that the relative moisture level of your dog’s nose has little to do with whether or not she’s sick. Some dogs just naturally have wetter noses than others, for one, so a drier nose may be perfectly normal for your pup.

Beyond this, the temperature and moisture level of your dog’s nose likely fluctuates quite a bit on a normal day, so it’s quite possible for it to be wet in the morning, dry in the middle of the day, and slimy again in the evening. Also, it’s important to note that dogs can be sick even if their noses are cold and wet.

Instead of obsessing over the moisture level, you should keep an eye on the kind of discharge coming from your dog’s nose. If the mucus suddenly become crusty or gets thicker, this can be a sign that something is wrong.

There are so many types of dogs, hunting dogs, guard dogs, herding dogs, companion dogs, working dogs, which one is yours?

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