Why does my pet’s nose get wet?

A burning question most pet lovers wonder about: why is my pet’s nose wet?! Cats aren’t that bad, but every time our dogs come up to say hi with their *boopable* nose, our hands or face might feel a little damp! Did you know that a wet nose is a clear sign that your pet is in good health?

Beyond the human nose 

Cat’s and dogs’ noses are special organs that can help them detect and sniff scents much faster and at a much more powerful rate than humans. Dogs have over 100 million olfactory glands. This is how they can pick up scents humans can only dream about, and it also includes detecting hormonal changes in a human’s body! They can even unmask traces of bombs or other drugs as well. On the other paw, cats have around 45 to 60 million olfactory glands, despite them having fewer compared to dogs, they can still detect any changes around them. Examples would be new cat litter scent or even other street cats we might’ve petted before getting home! Humans only have 6 million olfactory receptors, so it’s obvious that we’re the losers in the sniffing game. 

So why is it wet?

Although they have many olfactory receptors to help them detect any scent or changes around them, a damp or wet nose also helps them out! Scents can catch on to the wet surface better than dry areas. So it can help our furry friends recognize where the scent is coming from. Other than that, they also have a super special structure called Jacobson’s Organ, which is an accessory organ in the shape of a pair of tubular tissue located on the hard palate in the mouth. It can help detect any chemical scents like pheromones, allowing our furry friends to be the master of their senses! When they lick their nose that has the scent stuck to it, the Jacobson’s Organ can help them further detect what’s going on!

What if their nose is dry? Are they sick?

Normally, both cats’ and dogs’ noses should be quite damp. But if their noses are dry, it’s also not too uncommon and it’s not always something you should worry about. Maybe they’ve licked their noses but it was a particularly dry or windy day, and the moisture has evaporated. Or some friends might just have a drier nose compared to others! That’s why checking up on their health by only checking if their noses are wet is not the way to go. All pet parents should also keep an eye out for other symptoms as well, such as a change in behavior, tiredness, excessive thirst, etc. If a nose that used to be damp suddenly becomes bone dry, then it’s a good idea to visit the vet for a little check-up or so! 

If you find that your furry friend has abnormal mucus secretion from their nose, with a viscous consistency or abnormal color like green or yellow, it might be a sign that their respiratory system has been infected, or there are abnormalities. If you find that their boogers have traces of blood, it might be because they’ve contracted something from ticks, a sign of inflammation, or cancer. You should take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis. 

Cats and dogs are magical animals, with their biology blessed for uniqueness and full of differences compared to humans. These little critters can fulfill the parts that we lack! Although we might not be able to detect changes in our furry friends through our noses, we can always observe their symptoms and ask advice from a professional who is also a fellow human! So our furry friends can live a long, happy, and healthy life! 

This article is reviewed by the veterinarian from Small Animal Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University (CUVET)

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