Causes & Treatment of Dry Noses In Dogs

James Glover
by James Glover
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QuestionMy dog has a very dry and cracked nose tip, she tends to get food all over it when she eats. I gently wipe it after every meal but it is getting no better. I thought of putting petroleum jelly on it but I'm not sure if its the right product for a dog. (Eileen Armstrong - United Kingdom)

Answer

Many dogs suffer from a dry nose, and it's not a huge surprise given that it is one of the most used parts of their anatomy - whether it's being used for bulldozing soil, shoving under gates and doorways or being immersed in food or water. It is also part of the anatomy that is probably most exposed to the weather - snow or frost can be damaging, as can sunburn or cold winds. When a dog has a dry or irritated nose, it will tend to lick it, which can make the problem worse - just like when humans have chapped lips. 

A nose that is simply dry is not a cause for concern, and can be treated with a slight film of petroleum jelly. Since your dog will try to lick this off, it's important you do not use any cosmetic products, and that you don't put too much petroleum jelly on or apply it too often - since excessive amounts may cause diarrhea. However, if your dog's nose is becoming excessively dry and cracked, the condition may lead to wounds forming that will easily attract infection. It is therefore important to cleanse and moisturize the nose once or twice daily. You should wipe it with mild warm soapy water, thoroughly dry it and apply a thin film of petroleum jelly just before bed time or any other time of day where he's not going to get it dirty again for at least a few hours. 

When a dog displays additional symptoms, such as peeling, scabbing or bleeding, white or black spots or patches, or loss of pigmentation, you should have your dog examined by a veterinarian to determine if there is a bacterial or fungal infection.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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