Why Is My Dog’s Nose Wet?

Moisture enhances your dog’s sense of smell, which is why his nose is usually wet.


Dogs lick their own noses, so the saliva coats the nose and leaves it wet. A wet nose strengthens your dog’s sense of smell, which is one of his most amazing senses. In a few instances, however, a wet nose can indicate something is amiss, such as a runny nose, which could be a symptom of a cold.

Normal Dog Nose

Your dog’s nose is a great asset. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell that they use to find food, identify friends and family, and sniff out anything from favorite toys to missing children to mushrooms in the woods.

Moisture enhances your dog’s sense of smell, which is why dogs tend to lick their noses frequently to keep them moist. The tiny cobblestone appearance of a dog nose also helps with this, as those little cracks trap both moisture and odors.

Your dog’s nose does not have to be wet all the time, though. If he is really active or is sleeping, his nose may be dry. This simply means that he hasn’t licked his nose recently. Whether wet or dry, a nose that has the classic cobblestone surface and is soft to the touch is a healthy nose.

Dog Cold Symptoms

While a damp nose is nothing to worry about, if the nose is so wet it is dripping, there may be something else going on.

If your dog has a runny nose, check out the consistency of the discharge and if he has any other symptoms. A small amount of clear, watery discharge is less concerning than goopy yellow-green discharge or a bloody nose. A runny nose can be caused by viruses, bacterial infection, allergies, a foreign body stuck inside the nasal passages, or nasal cancer.

Common dog “cold” symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Cough
  • Runny or goopy eyes
  • Runny or goopy nose

If your dog has any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian. Keep your pup away from other dogs until he has recovered.

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Kate Basedow, LVT is a long-time dog enthusiast. She grew up training and showing dogs, and is active in a variety of dog sports. She earned her Bachelors Degree in English from Cornell University in 2013, and became a licensed veterinary technician in New York in 2017. She has been writing professionally about dogs for most of her life, and has earned multiple awards from the Dog Writers' Association of America. Kate currently has three dogs at home, as well as a cat, two zebra finches, and six ducks.