“Doctor, Poppet’s nose was warm yesterday. Is that a sign of illness?”
Poppett’s mom has asked a common question, but one that doesn’t have a simple answer.
Dogs, and to some extent cats, use their noses and foot pads as sweating mechanisms to lose body heat. Usually a cold, wet nose is evaporating moisture so as to carry away heat.
What happens if the body isn’t hot? If there is no excess body heat to remove, the nose and foot pads may become cool and dry, conserving body heat.
In general, if a pet’s nose is cold and moist, that pet is probably not suffering any major, life-threatening health issues.
Conversely, though, if a nose is warm and dry, it doesn’t necessarily mean a pet is ill, but it is slightly more likely that he might be.
Every pet owner needs to have an electronic rectal thermometer with thermometer probe covers. Using a cover and a little lubricant you can easily and safely obtain your pet’s core body temperature, knowing for sure whether he has a fever or his body temperature is normal.
Clears that up, doesn’t it?
See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.