You're sitting on the couch, and you lean over to pick up the remote.
As you do, your shirt raises slightly leaving some bare skin hanging out. You feel an ice cube on your back and look over to see your furry friend has jumped up on the couch and said "hi." "Well," you think as you realize the ice cube was his nose, "at least he's healthy."
Many people believe that if a dog's nose is cold, and possibly wet, it means he's healthy. But is this a fact, or an old wives' tale?
Turns out, it's the latter. A cold moist nose by itself is no more an indicator of a healthy dog than a warm dry nose alone means a dog is ill.
Temperature of your dog's nose.
The temperature of your dog's nose can vary not only from day to day, but even from hour to hour. Some dogs just naturally have warmer noses than other dogs. How warm or cool your dog's nose feels it not a good gauge of anything.
Moistness of your dog's nose.
There are a variety of reasons your dog's nose may be moist. Dogs tend to stick their noses into everything. This can make them dirty, so you dog licks his nose to clean it off. If he has been sticking his nose into dewy grass, his nose may pick up a thin layer of moisture.
You dog's nose also secretes a very thin mucus that help the nose absorb scents enhancing his sense of smell. He may also lick some of this mucus off his nose to be able to get a taste of what he smelled.
Although dogs don't sweat through the pores of their skin like humans do, they do sweat through their paw, pads and their noses. You dog's nose may be wet to help him cool off.
Some breeds of dogs inherently have a cool, wet noses. Your dog may just be genetically inclined to have a moist nose.
What your dog's nose can tell you.
There are some health issues that can affect your dog's nose. A change in skin texture can be a red flag. Dry, cracking skin and/or open sores on the nose should also raise an alarm. A runny nose, especially if the discharge is thick and/or yellowish or greenish is also an indication or a problem. If you note any of these symptoms, you should contact your vet.
Of course, if you dog is vomiting, has diarrhea, is listless, stops eating, stops drinking—in other words, he's obviously not well—you should take him to the vet whether his nose is warm or cool, wet or dry.
You know your dog better than anyone else. Pay attention to your dog, your dog's habits, and take your cues from him as to whether he feels fine or is under-the-weather. His behavior is the best indicator of his health you have.
Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.