A reader is worried because his dog doesn't have a cold, wet nose

Q: My dog has a very dry nose that has started to become cracked, and food tends to get dried on after she has eaten. 
I wipe her nose after every meal, but it is getting no better. Is there anything else I should do? Is a dry nose in a dog a health concern?

What the vet advises about a dry nose in a dog

A: This is not an uncommon observation, since the nose can be one of the most used and exposed parts of the dog’s body. Just like our skin, it is exposed to the weather and can be damaged by sunburn or by cold winds, frost and snow, in the same way as we get dried skin or chapped lips.

When a dog has a dry nose, it will tend to lick it, which can make the problem worse.

If the nose is simply dry there is no cause for concern. Just treat it by applying a thin film of petroleum jelly after each meal. A dog will tend to lick anything off its nose so it is important that you don’t use human cosmetic products or too much petroleum jelly as, in excess, this could cause diarrhoea.

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If your dog’s nose becomes excessively dry and cracked, this can predispose to infection, since the wounds will become contaminated. It is important to cleanse and moisturise the nose once or twice daily. Clean it using warm, mildly soapy water and thoroughly dry it before applying a thin film of jelly.

Do this at times when the nose will not get dirty again for a couple of hours and before you go to bed each night.

If there are further signs such as peeling, scabbing or bleeding, or black patches appear, or any loss of pigmentation, have your dog examined by a vet in case these are signs of bacterial or fungal infection or some hormonal imbalance.