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June 20, 2013

How should poodle’s flaky, crusty nose be treated?

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I have a standard poodle who is about 7 years old. He developed sores and flaking skin on his nose that wouldn’t go away. It seemed to expand to around his nostrils.

I took him to the vet, and he said my dog likely had lupus but could not tell for sure without a biopsy. I was saddened by this preliminary diagnosis. The crustiness would improve and get worse. Home treatment of Vaseline improved the appearance.

After a few months, I took him in for the recommended biopsy, which appeared painful and also was expensive. It turned up nothing but a crusty nose. Since then, I’ve looked online and found the problem is reported to be a common cosmetic issue. I treat it successfully with Blistex.

Now, I have two questions. Should my vet have been able to diagnose the crusty nose without all the cost and trauma of a biopsy? Also, is crusty nose truly benign and nothing to worry about?

— J.G., St. Louis

Dear J.G.: I have seen this kind of condition in standard poodles, and it certainly can be a lupus-like autoimmune disease, which I’ve seen lead to lesions around the nose, lips and face and broken and bleeding toenails.

Taking a biopsy can help in the diagnosis of autoimmune disease versus a benign skin condition, such as solar dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis.

In many instances, a treatment trial with antihistamine or steroid cream — or my formula of 10 drops each of frankincense, myrrh and helichrysum in 100 drops of olive or almond oil, applied two to three times daily — can be more cost-effective and less distressing for the canine patient. Increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the daily diet also may help.

Dear Dr. Fox: I read your article about dogs sleeping under blankets, and there is wisdom with your words. However, our doxie, Boomer, sleeps with me and cries or barks if I don’t hold the cover up so he can crawl under the blanket. If the crying or barking fails, he goes to the foot of the bed and pulls the covers up until he can crawl under.

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