Why Dogs Noses Are Wet

Why are dogs noses wet, you ask? Dogs’ noses are wet due to a gland in their nose that secretes mucus to aid in smell. Dogs also lick their nose in order to aid cooling by sweating through the nose.

And they are also wet due to licking as a mechanism for cleaning off the nose after rooting around and also enabling them to utilize the roof of their mouth to smell what they clean off their nose with their tongue. This naturally also makes their noses wet.

Two Main Reasons For Doggy Wet Nose

  • Secreted mucus
  • Licking
A dog with its big tongue sticking out.
A dog with its big tongue sticking out.

Dogs Noses Are Wet Because of Secreting Special Mucous

So that slimy wet nose that loves to leave streaks on your windows and glass doors is wet and slimy for a reason? Yes. That’s right.

Dogs secrete a mucous inside their nose that helps them smell. It does this by acting as sticky flypaper for scent molecules.

The molecules in the air get stuck on the dog’s nose allowing for the dog to miss very little in terms of smell. The Hound family of breeds is particularly keen at this sniffing things out ability.

How Dogs Smell Using Mucus

This might be pretty gross to some, but there’s a science behind how dogs smell using mucus on their nose. The mucus is secreted and the dog uses its tongue to grab the scent molecules off that sticky glue-like mucus-covered nose. The molecules are transported via the tongue to the roof of the dog’s mouth. Here are even more receptors for smelling that help the dog to smell even more. So, that’s why you see dogs regularly licking their noses with those cute long pink tongues.

How Good Dogs Are At Sniffing Things

Last year the sewer line backed up into the basement of my new house. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen and/or smelled in, well, for as long as I am aware of. It was nasty. And yet there was my Yorkshire Terrier trying her best to eat it, yes you read that right. I mean seriously. Nasty. So after I locked my dog up so I could get the problem fixed, I had to wonder what on Earth it was my dog liked about what she obviously could smell.

So just how good can dogs smell anyway? According to Nova dogs can smell anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans. That is like an Earth staggering amount better than us. I can’t even imagine how precise that ability is. Imagine being able to smell something by only a molecule or two potentially. And it’s that wet nose helping to contribute to a bigger system that allows dogs to have this super-power-like ability.

It’s a good thing dogs can smell so good. It’s one of the reasons why dogs have been so successful. But doesn’t that wet nose freeze when the dogs are outside in the cold? Nope. That’s because dogs will keep licking their nose. As mentioned, this helps keep the nose from freezing and also transfers the smell molecules that have stuck to the nose, to the roof of the mouth. This also allows the dog to smell extra above and beyond our own merely human ability.

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Note From The Author

Oh, hey, almost forgot to tell you: Whether you’re talking about big dogs vs small dogs or dogs and skunks, it’s best to stay informed. At Dog House Times, we try really hard to make sure we are getting our information from what we like to think of as institutional kind of sources. Christine and I go to the databases that universities use to teach the vets. Why? Because going to the source of any information stream is always the best and most accurate. Jeremy Shantz

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