My pet’s nose is dry….is it sick?

My pet’s nose is dry….is it sick?


Pet’s noses are truly amazing things – aside from being adorable (who can resist booping your dog or cat’s nose), their ability to detect specific smells is beyond anything we humans will ever grasp. 

There has been a long-standing tale amongst dog and cat owners that your pet should have a wet nose if they are healthy, and that a dry nose means they are sick. Does this theory hold any water or is it a little 'on the nose'?

Why would a pet’s nose be wet or dry?

A pet’s nose will either be wet or dry throughout the day based on many factors that have nothing to do with whether they are ill or not. 

For example – your cat or dog may have just had a drink. They may have been in the sun, the weather might be dry or humid, they may have just given their nose a lick or perhaps had something to eat. A pet that has just woken up might have a dry nose simply because they’ve been asleep and not licking it! 

The important issue is, as always – CONTEXT. If your pet is not eating, lethargic, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea or constipation, then yes – a dry, warm nose might be a part of a bigger picture of your pet’s health.

Other nosey symptoms that might be signs of illness

Your pet can suffer from allergies, sunburn, infections and other illnesses that can be evidenced through their nose.

Rather than temperature or wetness, these symptoms are definitely worth chatting to your vet about:

- Flakey skin

- Sores or scabs that won’t heal

- Changes in colour or unusual spots (note that some pets, particularly calico cats, do gain little spots on their nose and lips as they age!).

- Discharge or mucous, especially if it is very frequent or cloudy

Did you know?

A cat and dog’s nose is as unique to them as your fingerprint! 

In fact, there is a school of thought that nose-prints might be a better indicator of identity than microchipping as it’s a free, painless and as accurate as finger-printing. 

Maybe in the future we will rely on nose-printing as the best way to identify our pets!