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Coming home to Fido is always a great feeling – even if he welcomes you back by sniffing all over you — wet nose and all! If you've ever wondered why your pooch's nose always feels slimy, read on.

Like us, our dogs’ noses secrete mucus. However, this mucus is not the same gross stuff that we blow out of our own noses when we are down with flu. Instead, when dogs try to follow a specific scent, they make a thin layer of mucus that aids in the absorption of scent chemicals, allowing them to smell better.

The wetness on your pooch's nose isn't just mucus too. It actually includes saliva. Dogs lick their noses so that the olfactory glands on the roof of their mouths can sample the scent chemicals that are trapped in the mucus it secretes.

This gives your dog a better idea of what he smells. In addition, your canine licks his snout because it can get dirty easily, especially with food particles. Licking it helps him clean it – and gobble up some of his leftover lunch.

Widely known is how dogs cool off by panting through their tongues. That said, they do actually sweat to regulate their body temperature, and that is done by secreting moisture from their paws as well as their noses. Yes, your dog's wet nose is a combination of mucus, saliva, and sweat.

Of course, your pooch's wet nose could be genetic. Certain dogs and dog breeds are just born with colder and wetter snouts, but external reasons are also possible. Whenever your furry pal is out, he is likely to sniff around, putting his face (and accompanying snout) into grass, leaves, dirt, soil, and other works of nature, most of which are damp.

Although wet noses are a norm in the doggy world, dry noses aren't always a sign of illness. Some believe that dogs with high temperatures often have dry noses. However, the temperature and moisture level of your pooch's nose is likely to fluctuate on a normal day, and he may be sick even with a wet and cold nose.

Instead, pet owners should observe the discharge that comes out of your dog's nose: If it becomes crusty or gets thicker, this could be a sign of sickness.


* The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified pet health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always make a pet health care decision in partnership with a qualified veterinary or pet health care professional.

*This article was updated on 3 May 2021. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 20 Apr 2016.