What causes the skin on a dog’s nose to crack, and how can you treat this?

What causes the skin on a dog’s nose to crack, and how can you treat this?

Health & Safety

It is a common misapprehension that all healthy dogs have wet noses, and a dry nose is a sign of ill health. Whilst your dog’s nose shouldn’t be very dry all of the time, it shouldn’t be very wet either, and at different times of the day – such as when your dog first wakes up from a nap – their nose is apt to be fairly dry, and this is perfectly normal and not the sign of a problem.

However, if your dog’s nose is very dry most of the time it can lead to cracking of the skin – as can a range of other environmental factors and health conditions too. Cracked skin on the nose will be very sore and painful for your dog, but in some cases, you can prevent it from happening in the first place – if you know why it occurs.

In this article, we will examine some of the most common things that cause cracked skin on the noses of dogs, and how to prevent or treat them. Read on to learn more.

Cold weather

First of all, just as we as people are apt to suffer more from problems like chapped hands and dry skin during the winter months, so too are dogs more prone to suffering from skin problems of their own. Cold weather can have quite an acute impact on the skin of both dogs and people, leading to dryness and eventually, cracking.

The chances of the skin on your dog’s nose cracking are also higher if they tend to lick their nose a lot to keep it moist, as when they do this outside, the cold has a greater effect on the skin.

Try to ensure that your dog’s core stays warm when outside, using coats and booties if necessary, and keep a careful eye out for signs of cracking.

Central heating and dry heat

The central heating that most of us use during the winter is a very dry type of heat, which can lead to lower than normal humidity levels in the home that can have a drying effect on the skin of both dogs and people, as well as sometimes worsening respiratory conditions such as asthma.

This can lead to cracking of your dog’s nose, particularly if they come in and out a lot during the course of the day from the cold outside to the warmer, dryer inside.

Colds and respiratory infections

As we all know, a cold, runny nose and other common winter ills can lead to irritated skin around the nose, which is often caused in large part by continually wiping and blowing our noses with tissues. Whilst dogs don’t use tissues when they have a case of the sniffles, if their nose is running a lot, this can have an effect on the skin of the nose and over time, leading to it cracking and becoming chapped.


A dog that is severely dehydrated or that gets dehydrated regularly will be more prone to developing a very dry nose, which will in turn increase the chances of it cracking. It should go without saying, but all dogs need to have continual access to a source of clean, fresh water at all times, and you should make a special effort to encourage your dog to drink when the weather is very hot, or if your dog is exercising.

Seasonal changes and allergies

The changes of the seasons at different points of the year can lead to allergy flare-ups in dogs and people alike, which can throw the whole body out of whack and lead to a range of problems occurring. As is the case if your dog has a cold, allergies will often make the nose (and eyes) stream, which in turn contributes to dryness and can cause cracking.

Cuts and grazes

If your dog manages to get a graze or cut on their nose, this will often clear up on its own in short order. However, because there isn’t really a viable way of keeping your dog from licking or bothering at their nose, this can actually worsen a minor injury and increase the risk of infection, rough skin and scabbing, which can all lead to cracks developing.

Hormonal health conditions

Finally, there are a range of hormonal and immune-mediated health conditions that can cause cracking on your dog’s nose, and this may be your first indication that something isn’t quite right with your dog’s general health and condition.

If the texture of your dog’s nose is very rough or thick, this might indicate the presence of a condition like Cushing’s Disease, and a wide range of other hormonal conditions can also lead to changes in the texture of your dog’s nose and problems like cracking.

If your dog’s nose is cracking and you don’t know why, it is important to get them checked out by your vet, and formally diagnosing the problem and beginning a treatment or management protocol will often reverse the problem.

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