Why your Bulldog has a Dry Nose and How to Help

Why your Bulldog has a Dry Nose and How to Help
Think of having chapped lips or dry skin. The dryer the skin, the more uncomfortable you become. Sometimes the skin can even crack and bleed. It’s the same situation for the dog. When a bulldog has a dry nose, they can crack and bleed, which will hurt those snouts of theirs. Not only is having a dry nose uncomfortable for a bulldog, but it affects their strongest sense, their sense of smell. This can cause them to become irritable and nervous, and with bulldogs, we know we have to keep them as unprovoked as possible. Dogs rely on a wet nose to smell and observe the things around them.
Why your bulldog has a dry nose? The possible causes of a dry nose in bulldogs are allergies, dry weather, or a health condition called Nasal Hyperkeratosis. Nose dryness can be treated and cured easily in most cases. In some instances, additional assistance may be required from a veterinarian.

Dry Nose in Bulldogs: Possible Causes

All dogs can and will have mild dryness at some point. It most likely is a quick bug passing through their bodies. You should begin to be concerned when the issue doesn’t resolve itself in a day or two.  There can be any number of reason dogs in general can have a dry nose.


The first cause could be allergies. Perhaps your bulldog’s nose is dry because there is pollen in the air. After all, dogs can have pollen allergies, just like us humans do. It could also be an allergy to something in your home that you are unaware of. For example, many dogs are allergic to plastic. Are their water and food dishes plastic? Switch them out for stainless steel bowls. Did you recently change laundry detergent? Did you buy a different brand of dog food? Dogs, like humans, can be affected by all these little changes. Think about any changes you may have made around your home the about time you started noticing a dry nose in your dog. If you can’t think of anything that has changed, then there is probably another issue.


Weather changes can contribute to dry noses as well. Dry climates especially can affect a dog’s moist nose. High desert areas can be especially dry during the winter. Or maybe your dog was out in the sun for a while. Light pigmented dogs are susceptible to sunburns. A sunburned nose will become dry and peel.
These are just a few basic reasons your bulldog’s nose is cracked and dry. However, your bulldog may have a dry nose for a completely different reason.

Nasal Hyperkeratosis in Bulldogs

Nasal Hyperkeratosis is caused when too much keratin, the protein that that creates the top layer of skin on the nose, is created. The extra skin becomes thick, hard, and completely dried out. The dry skin over the nose will eventually peel off if it is not properly treated. Brachycephalic breeds such as our favorite bulldog and pugs, have trouble licking their nose and keeping their nose moist because of their unique anatomy and the shape of their skull. Veterinarians say Nasal Hyperkeratosis is non-life threatening, just extremely uncomfortable for dogs.
Besides the fact that bulldogs can’t lick their noses easily, there is not a hard and fast reason as to why dogs develop nasal hyperkeratosis. If it is a genetic condition, dogs will start showing signs within the first year of their life. If it is not inherited, this condition will most likely show up in their later years.

Treatment for Bulldogs with Dry Noses

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast cure for hyperkeratosis. The good news is there are treatment options and most of them are fairly easy.

Step 1: Clean the Nose

The best time to start applying any topical treatment is after a meal. This will give the treatment a chance to soak in before they go rub their nose in anything else. You may also want to have a distraction ready, like some playtime or a walk so they aren’t thinking about what is on their nose. Get your distraction already to go first. Second, get a clean hand towel and get it wet with warm water. Give the snout a gentle clean, being careful not to rub on the dry skin too hard. If your bulldog’s nose is cracked and the skin is peeling off, you’ll want the dry skin to fall off on its own, when it is ready. I know it may be tempting to pick at it, but you really just need to let it run its own course. Dry crusts that are detached prematurely can bleed and may cause a secondary infection.

Step 2: Apply the treatment

After you have cleaned the nose, apply your treatment (we will talk about topical treatment options next). This shouldn’t be hard. Approach the dog slowly. Don’t come from the back and surprise them. Let your dog see what you are doing, if they are curious about what you have, let them sniff it, but don’t let them lick it. If you let them lick it, they will think it is okay to lick it when its on their nose. Thankfully, at least in this situation, bulldogs have a hard time getting their tongue all the way over their nose anyways. You can scoop up about a teaspoon to tablespoon full with your fingers and gently rub it in, or you can use the same towel you used to clean the nose with and gently rub it into the nose. Its okay to have excess oils on the nose. Just glob it on the best you can.

Step 3: Repeat

Until the nose has started to show significant improvement, you have to repeat this process at least 4 times a day. You can skip washing the nose if your dog hasn’t just eaten. Just try to keep your dog from licking it off each time. Once the dry nose has improved, you can reduce treatments to once a day, and then 2-3 times a week, depending on need. If your Bulldog has Nasal Hyperkeratosis this will be a lifetime treatment you will have to do for your dog.

Treatment Options

The first and easiest option is treating the nose with coconut oil. Find a coconut oil that is unrefined and cold pressed. It should be easy to find coconut oil at any grocery store, Walmart, or health food store. Rub about a teaspoon to tablespoon full onto the dog’s nose and let it soak in, and repeat this several times a day. I like coconut oil as a treatment option because it is food grade and completely safe if your dog happens to lick it, which they most likely will. If you are diligent about applying the coconut oil to your dog’s nose, you should start to see results in just a few days. Coconut oil is hard straight out of the jar, but it has an extremely low melting point and should melt right in your hands as your rub it onto the bulldog’s nose.

Nose Butter and Lotions

Another option is a nose butter. Yes, nose butter. All you have to do is a quick Amazon search for “Nose Butter” or “Nose Balm” and you will find a whole slew of options. All of them are good choices and you will see results when you begin treatment. (If you have to wait for a nose balm to be shipped, jump on the coconut oil while you wait. It’s cheap and easy to find. Don’t prolong your dog’s discomfort!) You will see brands that you recognize like Burt’s Bees for Pets or Bag Balm for pets. These are both great options, but my favorite option is Natural Dog’s Snout Smoother on Amazon. Everything is all natural and completely safe for a dog to lick. Snout Soother has natural sun screen too for those pink nosed dogs. You should start seeing results in a few days of starting treatment.
Don’t use over the counter lotions. I have heard of a few people having success with lotions such as Aquafor, but the ingredients are not all natural and not meant for human consumption so it would probably be best if your dog didn’t have it around its face. We don’t want to create new problems while trying to solve the first one.
Whatever you decide to treat your bulldog’s dry nose with, just be sure to read the ingredients and make sure they are safe for consumption before applying.

When to See a Vet for a Bulldog With a Dry Nose

If your bulldog’s nose dry nose and you do not see improvements within a week of starting an at home treatment you should make an appointment to see a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will help you to determine if the dry nose is a symptom of another underlying disease. The veterinarian will also be able to clean the nose and remove the excess dry skin and keratin. You may also discuss other treatment options and the veterinarian may prescribe a topical treatment for your dog.

Final Thoughts on Dry Snouts

Dry snouts are not only uncomfortable, but a dog’s nose helps them process the world around them. It’s their strongest sense, and if their nose is out of whack, then everything will be out of whack for your pooch. There is no end all, be all cure, especially in dogs that have Nasal Hyperkeratosis. If your Bulldog has a dry nose early intervention and habitual treatment is key to prevent dry and cracking noses.