Most dog owners are familiar with the cold, wet nose that their dog always has, but, have you ever wondered why do dogs always have wet noses?
The answer lies in the dog’s fantastic smelling ability. A wet nose is better for scent. Your dog focuses more on what he smells than anything else and a wet nose attracts scent molecules much more efficiently. Simply put a wet nose works better than a dry one.
Your dog’s nose is probably the most important part of his body. Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell for communication and to learn and understand the world that they live in.
Just as people rely on their sense of sight, a dog uses his sense of smell in the same way, although his scenting ability is far more refined and better than our sight.
A dog’s sense of smell is difficult for humans to understand as it is so much more powerful, sensitive and refined, up to 10,000 times more powerful than a human being’s.
In her best selling book ‘Inside of a dog’, cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz describes an experiment where a single human fingerprint was placed onto a cleaned glass slide. The slide was left outdoors for weeks, exposed to all sorts of weather.
When presented with a collection of slides containing the fingerprinted slide, the dog was able to detect the one that had been fingerprinted even though the scent was weeks old and weathered.
Your dog’s nose works best when it is wet as the scent molecules stick better to a wet surface.
Wet noses help a dog to cool down
Dogs cannot sweat like humans and they have to regulate their body temperature in different ways. This is done mainly by panting, often with the tongue hanging out to get rid of excess heat, but your dog can also lose heat through his paw pads and via his nose.
A wet nose provides a more effective way of getting rid of some of his body heat when he is warm.
Your dog has to keep his nose wet
Mucus – Your dog’s nose produces mucus from glands inside the nasal passages which work to keep his nose wet.
This mucus tends to be sticky so that it sticks to the inside and outside of his nose and acts as a channel for scent molecules, which, when they stick to the mucus are then directed into the nose for ‘processing’.
Dogs lick their noses – this is something that most dog owners see their pets doing but the dog is not just licking his nose to keep it wet.
By licking his nose, your dog can transfer some of the scent molecules into his mouth where they are then passed onto the top of the mouth for an increased ability to deal with the scent.
Your dog also knows that having a wet nose increases his smelling ability – so he will lick it to keep it moist.
Most dogs will run with their noses to the ground – this is where they pick up the best scent and where they get most of their information from.
You’ll often notice that your dog’s face can be wet, even when the rest of his body is dry, he picks up moisture from the ground which wets his face and nose.
Some dogs need wetter noses than others
Have you ever noticed that some dogs produce more ‘doggy goz’ than others? That dog goo that dribbles from their noses and mouths and which can get everywhere, particularly when they shake?
It is quite normal for many breeds and the reason is all to do with scent and improving and supporting that sense.
A bloodhound will produce more goo than perhaps a poodle, and it is no coincidence that bloodhounds possess one of the best scenting abilities in the dog world.
All of that mucus helps to attract scent molecules onto the dog’s face and into his nostrils, resulting in a dog that can track people and other prey with incredible results.
Wet noses are important for a dog
It’s often said that if a dog has a wet nose then he is healthy. What can be certain is that having a wet nose is normal and important for every breed of dog, whether a house dog, pet or working dog.
Dog’s view their world by smell and a wet, cold nose improves and supports their ability to do this.
Last update on 2021-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API