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D2003-15

Dear Daisy Dog

Please settle a family argument.

My husband insists that when our dog’s nose is warm and dry, he has a fever. I say the only way to know if he has a fever is to take his temperature.

Who is correct?

Daisy Responds

Most of us dogs like to keep everyone happy, so I rarely take sides. But in this case, I have to say that your husband is all wet.

Let me explain why dogs’ noses are usually cool and damp.
Tears produced by glands in the eye socket bathe the surface of the eye and then drain through two little holes at the inside corner of the eye socket.

The tears then move into the naso-lacrimal duct. “Naso” means nose, and lacrimal refers to tears, so you guessed it: the tears move down the nose and out the nostrils.

This tickles, so we dogs lick our noses – which explains your dog’s usually wet nose. Our noses seem cool because of evaporation.

My nose is warm and dry when I wake from a nap, but that’s because I don’t produce many tears while I’m sleeping, not because I’m sick.

Other dogs have warm, dry noses if their tear drainage systems are blocked somewhere along this pathway. The tears often spill over their eyelids and stain the hair at the corners of their eyes, because tears have chemicals that react with sunlight to produce a red-brown hue.

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