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My Dog/Cat’s Nose is Dry. Are they Sick?

At some point in time you may have heard from somewhere or someone that if your dog or cat has a dry and warm nose they are sick.

So, if their nose is dry are they sick?

In most cases no. 

The dry and warm nose theory is a myth.

So, what does it mean if you dog or cat has a dry nose? 

Here are the reasons behind your pet’s dry nose and what symptoms to look out for if you pet is actually sick.

dog nose


A Dry Nose

You may notice that your dog or cats nose is sometimes wet and cool and other times it is warm and dry. Your pets’ nose will naturally change from one texture to another throughout a day. There may be a few additional reasons as to why your pets nose becomes dry.

Additional Reasons why your pets nose is dry:

  • They have been sleeping
    Whilst your dog or cat is asleep they will stop licking their nose therefore stopping the constant flow of moisture to the nasal area.

  • They have been in the sun
    Your pet may have been outside in the sun or sun-baking resulting in a warm and dry nose due to the heat.

  • They have been near hot air
    During the colder months, your pet may snuggle up near a heater to keep warm which will result in a dry and warm nose due to the heat.


cat lying in sun


Nose Symptoms of a Sick Pet

If you notice changes in texture such as the nose becoming crusty and flaky or changes in colour, you should seek your vet.

A prolonged dry, cracked and loss of pigmentation nose with scabs should be checked by your vet asap.

If your pet is sick they will usually have a warm, dry nose with additional symptoms, such as vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea or becoming very lethargic. 


Potential Nose Conditions to Be Aware of


  • Allergies and Sensitivities
    Your dog or cat may be allergic or become sensitive to certain plastics and dyes resulting in changes to the nose. This may be caused from feeding your pet from plastic dishes. To eliminate these problems, use steel, glass or ceramic bowls.

  • Nasal Discharge
    If your pet has a runny nose with discharge coming from the nostrils, it should be examined by your vet. In addition, if your pet is excessively coughing, sneezing and having difficulties breathing this could potentially be a sign of a respiratory infection or in serious cases a tumour could be present in the nasal passages. Be sure to seek your vet if symptoms persist. 

  • Black Spots
    Owners of orange tabby or calico cats may notice black spots appear on their cat’s nose and lips as they age. This is known as lentigo simplex and is a normal change amongst these types of cats.

  • Sunburn
    Dogs, cats, horses and other animal are prone to sunburn which in some cases can lead to skin cancers on the nose, ear tips or around the eyes. Animals with light or pink coloured noses are at a greater risk then those with darker noses. If your pet has a light-coloured nose be sure to ask your vet about sun protection alternatives for them.

dog under blanket

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.