Cold winter weather can often lead to dry, cracked noses in dogs. A dog’s nose is made up of sensitive skin that lacks oil glands, making it prone to drying out, especially in low-humidity winter air. While a dry nose may seem like just a cosmetic issue, it can cause discomfort, pain, and even more serious health problems for your pup.
Understanding the causes of winter nose dryness and implementing some preventive care can help keep your dog’s snout moist and healthy when temperatures drop.
- 1 What Causes Dog Nose Dryness in Winter?
- 2 Signs Your Dog’s Nose Is Too Dry
- 3 Dangers of Dry Dog Noses
- 4 Preventing Winter Nose Dryness
- 5 Treating Dry, Cracked Noses
- 6 FAQs About Dry Dog Noses in Winter
- 7 Keeping Your Pup’s Nose in Tip-Top Shape
What Causes Dog Nose Dryness in Winter?
Several factors contribute to dry, chapped dog noses in the winter:
The cold, dry air of winter has very little moisture in it. This low humidity pulls moisture from exposed skin, including your dog’s nose.
Frigid temps constrict blood vessels on the skin’s surface, reducing blood flow. This slows cell turnover and oil production.
Dogs lick their noses when dry, which further dries them out. The enzymes in saliva damage the skin when licked excessively.
The sun’s rays reflect off snow and can burn unprotected noses. This damages skin cells.
Indoor heaters blast dry air that dehydrates the skin. Dogs exposed to forced-air heating tend to get very dry noses.
Dogs with seasonal or food allergies tend to lick and rub their noses more, causing additional dryness.
Signs Your Dog’s Nose Is Too Dry
Watch for these signs that indicate your dog’s snout needs some TLC in the winter:
- Dry, flaky, cracked skin
- Lesions or sores
- Loss of pigment
Your dog may also rub their nose on the ground, furniture, or paws excessively or sneeze frequently. These are signs of nasal discomfort.
Dangers of Dry Dog Noses
While a slightly dry nose may not pose any health risks, severely chapped, cracked noses can cause significant issues including:
- Infection – Open wounds provide a pathway for bacteria to enter the body and cause infection.
- Pain – Your dog’s nose contains many pain receptors. Dryness and cracking can make it very sore.
- Impaired Smell – Scent particles stick to moisture. Dry noses cannot pick up scents as well.
- Respiratory Issues – Cracks allow cold air into the nasal passages and lungs, potentially causing illness.
- Cancer – Severely damaged, inflamed skin is at higher risk of developing cancerous lesions.
Keeping your dog’s nose moist and protected is important for their comfort and health.
Preventing Winter Nose Dryness
You can take steps to help prevent your dog’s nose from painfully drying out when the weather turns cold:
Use a Humidifier
Run a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the dry, heated indoor air. Choose a pet-safe model and clean it regularly.
Limit Time Outdoors
When temperatures drop below freezing, keep outdoor time brief for bathroom breaks only.
Avoid Sun Exposure
Use dog-safe sunscreen on your dog’s nose before going outside on sunny winter days. Reapply frequently.
Massage With Oil
Gently rub a little coconut, olive, or snout-specific moisturizing oil into your dog’s nose daily. Avoid internal nasal openings.
Invest in a Snood
These knit hoods cover just the muzzle to protect it from cold, wind, and sun. They come in many cute designs!
Add Moisture to Food
Mix a spoonful of broth, coconut oil, or pet-safe oil into each meal to boost hydration from the inside.
Use a Humidifier Near Your Dog
Position a cool-mist humidifier near your dog’s favorite resting spots to envelop them in comforting moisture.
If your pooch’s nose becomes chapped and cracked despite preventive care, promptly treat it to avoid complications like infection. Here are some effective remedies:
- Dog-Safe Moisturizers – Pet stores carry balms and gels specially formulated to heal cracked snouts. Natural ingredients like vitamin E, shea butter, and beeswax safely moisturize and protect.
- Coconut Oil – This gentle, antimicrobial oil soothes and hydrates damaged skin when applied sparingly to superficial cracks several times a day.
- Pet-Safe Antibiotic Ointment – For deeper cracks that risk infection, dab on an over-the-counter antibiotic like Polysporin to prevent bacterial overgrowth while healing.
- MEDICATED Dog Nose Butter – Products containing hydrocortisone provide relief from itching and inflammation of severely dry, sore noses. Use only as directed to avoid side effects.
- Veterinary Care – If OTC treatments fail to heal your dog’s nose after 1-2 weeks, seek veterinary help. They can provide prescription creams/ointments to resolve stubborn dry noses.
Be vigilant for signs of infection like pus, worsening swelling, or foul odor, and contact your vet promptly if they develop. Most mild to moderate dry nose resolves easily with diligent moisturizing care.
FAQs About Dry Dog Noses in Winter
Is it normal for my dog’s nose to be dry in winter?
Yes, it’s very common for dogs’ noses to become somewhat dry in cold weather. However, severe cracking, bleeding, or crusting is NOT normal and signals their nose needs medical treatment.
Should I put Vaseline on my dog’s nose?
Veterinarians advise against using Vaseline, as dogs may lick it off and accidentally inhale the petroleum jelly into their lungs. Opt for thicker balms and oils made specifically for dog noses that absorb into the skin.
How can I get my dog to stop licking their nose?
Use an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking so cracked skin can fully heal. You can also try bitter anti-lick sprays and anxiety-reducing treats or supplements to curb obsessive nose-licking.
What temperature is too cold for dogs to be outside?
Experts caution against leaving dogs outdoors below 32°F/0°C for prolonged periods. Their exposed noses are at risk of frostbite below 20°F/-6°C. Keep outdoor time brief for potties in freezing weather.
Should I take my dog to the vet for a dry nose?
Make a veterinary appointment if OTC remedies fail to heal their nose within 1-2 weeks. Severely damaged/bleeding noses may require prescription medication. Vets can culture wounds to check for fungal/bacterial infections needing treatment too.
Keeping Your Pup’s Nose in Tip-Top Shape
With vigilance and proper care, you can help your dog maintain a healthy, comfortable nose all winter long. Check their snout daily and address any dryness right away before it develops into a more painful or hazardous cracked nose. Your pup will be ready to happily sniff their way through cold weather walks and playtime when you make nose care a priority!