Skip to Content

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Noses? 7 Reasons

They say a dog with a wet nose is a happy dog. Anyone who has ever met a happy pooch knows that a pup’s excited nose licking means good feelings all around. So why do dogs lick their noses?

In many cases, it’s a positive sign, but there are also those instances where you may want to take a closer look. From nervous ticks to health concerns, it’s a good idea to carefully note when nose-licking is comfortable, or when it feels out of the ordinary.

Noses are a very important part of a dog’s life. It’s a critical tool for telling lots of things about the environment, people, and other animals. For this reason, it’s important for it to be healthy.

So here are the reasons dogs lick their noses, both good and bad.

cute dog licks its nose why do dogs lick their noses

More About a Dog’s Nose

It’s useful to note that some breeds are predisposed to more licking. “Flat-faced” dogs like bulldogs and pugs – called Brachycephalic breeds – lick their noses more often.

This could be because they collect more bacteria in the area than other dogs, due to the anatomy of their faces. 

The Sense of Smell

Dogs smell everything. Not surprisingly, their noses get to touch a whole lot of stuff.

dalmatian sniffing

Whether it’s your hand, a new bag you’ve bought, other dogs in the park or street, or just some random plant in the garden, it’s interesting to smell. Licking is a way to keep that snout clean.

Cooling Down

As most of us know, a dog’s nose is key to its sense of smell. What you might not know is that it’s also a device for cooling the pup down. Dogs only have sweat glands under their feet, but panting helps cool a dog down because of the evaporation from the mouth and tongue.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Noses? 7 Reasons 1
golden retriever

If the nose is wet, this helps with that cool-down effect. That’s why a dog’s nose should always be moist. Licking helps with this, of course.

Normal Causes of Nose Licking

Regardless of the breed, there are some common reasons for nose-licking. We’ll start with the reasons considered normal and healthy. 

1. Dry Nose

As mentioned, doggie noses should ordinarily be moist to assist with cooling down. If the nose becomes too dry, the skin can crack and become damaged.

shiny dog nose in focus

Fortunately, your dog has an instinct to ensure it’s always in optimum shape in terms of moisture.

2. Stress

When you get nervous, you probably have some sort of indicator. Maybe your hands start sweating, or your heart beats noticeably faster. In dogs, stress can manifest as excessive nose-licking.

You may notice this when it meets a new person or dog for the first time or when it is being called for a bath. This is just a sign of nervous tension, and in most cases, it’s perfectly normal.

brown dog licks its nose

Some owners have recommended using calming CBD oil for dogs with particularly nervous or highly stressful dispositions.

3. Involuntary Nervous Tick

Sometimes the general stress action of licking a nose goes into slightly deeper territory – that of a nervous tick. When a dog has a naturally anxious personality, it may show signs of somewhat excessive nose-licking.

Think of it as the way some people might scratch their chins or grind their teeth.

4. Allergies

Like humans, dogs sometimes suffer from allergies. This could be seasonal or have to do with the environment. Like when humans suffer allergies, they tend to wipe away the causes of the irritation.

black dog licks its nose

Nose licking comes into play here. Who wants to deal with an itchy nose all the time? You may notice some sneezing if your dog suffers from allergies. 

Check out this list of dog foods specially formulated for dogs with allergies. If your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, you may want to try some allergy-suppressing treats that can assist with some of the symptoms.

Worrisome or More Serious Causes

Unfortunately, there are a few more severe causes of excessive nose licking. You may want to be aware of these if you suspect that your doggy is experiencing some difficulty or illness.

Remember that ignoring any unusual symptoms may lead to severe consequences for your dog. In many of these cases, you should consider consulting a vet for a solution.

5. Dehydration

A dog may suffer from dehydration for several reasons, like not having access to enough clean water. It may simply also be too hot, leading to an excessive loss of moisture.

Dehydration can also be caused by a medical issue. Kidney disease is just one example. Your dog may not be eating or drinking because of another problem, which leads to dehydration.

beagle drinking water

If you suspect this condition, check to see if your dog is drooling more than usual. You might also be able to check its skin for average elasticity. If you have a pet thermometer, you may want to use it to check for a high temperature.

In the case of dehydration, simply feeding your dog water may not address the cause. Talk to your vet.

brown chow chow dog drinking water

6. Nausea (Food Poisoning or Other Causes)

When a dog is feeling nauseous, it will most likely drool excessively and compensate by licking excessively. It may not throw up – at least, you may not actually see them do it – but that doesn’t mean it’s not suffering from an upset stomach.

brown dog drooling

While not poison exactly, dogs are susceptible to grassy foxtails – common spikelets found in grassy and weedy areas.

If a dog swallows these seemingly harmless items, it may travel to its lungs. Foxtails can also get caught deep inside ears. The dog will then excessively lick to alleviate the pain and discomfort.

Usually, excessive nose-licking won’t be the only odd behavior. Your pup may just not be himself. Poisoning or any other cause of nausea can be complicated. It’s best to ask a vet about possible causes and treatment.

7. Dental Problems

Like people, dogs get dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Licking is an instinct to alleviate the pain and discomfort. He may also paw at his mouth and yelp.

No one wants to be in that kind of pain. When you think about it, you play with your tongue to alleviate dental pain, too!

dog's mouth

Older dogs may be susceptible to this issue. But young puppies with teeth that aren’t too strong yet may also suffer the pain.

If you suspect a dental or oral issue, you may not be able to identify the problem yourself. Consult a vet. If your dog is especially unhappy with having its muzzle checked, the vet may need to use a mild sedative.

dog having its teeth brushed

Final Thoughts on Why Do Dogs Lick Their Noses

For the most part, a happy dog licking its nose is a good sign. When you arrive home and your dog excitedly greets you, a little nose licking is just a positive indicator of excitement.

But don’t take this for granted. Sometimes, it may be an indicator of a problem, especially if it seems excessive.

When in doubt, consult your vet. Chances are, any worrying causes can be quickly dealt with.

Otherwise, know that in most cases, that wet nose is a sign of good health, and feel free to enjoy the licking! Feel free to boop that schnoz freely.

white dog licks nose

I covered all of the costs associated with writing this post on why do dogs lick their noses. However, it does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in this article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission. It won’t affect the price that you pay. Just wanted to let you know.

Like this post? Why not share it?

Thanks for sharing