It's said that the condition of a dog's nose is a good indication of his health. This is not necessarily true, as a dog's nose normally changes wetness and dryness throughout the day. A dog's nose can be an indicator of some medical conditions, like sunburn, but additional signs of illness are necessary to determine if your golden retriever is ill.
Causes of a Wet Nose
Your golden retriever's nose is normally wet because of a thin layer of clear mucus covering the nose. This mucus is thought to help regulate temperature and to support the sense of smell. The layer of mucus absorbs chemicals from around the environment. Your dog then licks his nose, transferring the chemicals to his mouth, where his olfactory sense organs are located, enabling him to detect scents.
Causes of a Dry Nose
A dog's nose is generally dry due to environmental factors, such as laying in the sun for too long or laying next to a fireplace or floor heater in the winter. This is normal, reversed by moving your dog to a colder or more humid area. In contrast, a dry nose can be an indication that your golden retriever has sunburn, especially if the nose is flaking. Sores or scabs on a dry nose may indicate that your dog has a skin condition.
What You Can Do
If you are worried that your golden retriever may be sick, do not solely rely on checking his nose to determine if he needs medical attention. Obtain his temperature using a rectal thermometer. To do so ask a friend to keep his head steady. Apply petroleum jelly to the bulb of the thermometer, lift his tail and insert the thermometer at least an inch into his rectum. Hold it until it beeps or for at least three minutes if it's a traditional mercury thermometer. A dog's normal temperature range is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
When to See a Veterinarian
Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog shows any abnormal signs of illness, such as a temperature outside the normal range, or thick, yellowish or offensive-smelling discharge coming from the nose, ears or eyes. If your dog's nose changes in wetness, dryness or pigmentation for a prolonged period of time, make an appointment to see a vet.
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