Dear Daisy Dog: My cocker spaniel Winston has a dry, crusty nose that looks ugly but doesn't seem to bother him. What should I do about it?

Daisy responds:
The nose leather, formally known as the planum nasale, derives much of its moisture from tiny glands just inside the nose. These nasal glands also keep the inside surfaces of the nose moist.

If the glands stop secreting liquid, a condition called hyperkeratosis of the planum nasale results.

If Winston's nose is simply dry, you need do nothing. If the appearance bothers you, apply Kerasal (a human foot ointment), fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E, Vaseline, a fragrance-free moisturizer, Bag Balm or propylene glycol to his planum nasale.

In rare cases, a dog's nose may get so dry that deep fissures form; if they bleed, Winston needs to see his veterinarian.

In some dogs, related nerves that stimulate tear production are affected. If you see any change in Winston's eyes, including a thick discharge, he may be developing dry eye in addition to his dry nose. Your veterinarian can make the diagnosis and recommend eye medication.


Dear Christopher Cat: My cats are vaccinated at the pet supply store every year. Am I right that vaccine quality is the same at pet supply stores and veterinary hospitals?

Christopher responds:
As long as a veterinarian is giving the vaccinations, you can be comfortable with the quality of the vaccines.

However, your cats are missing the most important parts of their annual visit: the physical exam and your veterinarian's advice about their health.

In a 2013 study on routine health screening of cats, researchers evaluated 100 cats, 6 years and older, that their owners thought were completely healthy.

Physical examinations identified gingivitis in 72 cats, lymph node enlargement in 32, thyroid gland enlargement in 20, and heart murmurs in 11. Only half the cats were of normal weight: 40 were overweight and 11 were underweight.

Routine blood work and urinalysis revealed crystals in the urine of 41 cats, kidney dysfunction in 29, protein in the urine of 27, high blood sugar in 25, feline immunodeficiency virus in 14, and hyperthyroidism in 3 cats. Eight cats had high blood pressure.

One of your veterinarian's most important responsibilities is to detect disease early, so treatment can begin before your cat feels sick. Many studies show that prompt treatment reduces cost and prolongs life.

Mom examines me every year, and I wish the same quality of care for your cats.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine at Bernville Veterinary Clinic. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com, 610-488-0166 or P.O. Box 302, Bernville, PA 19506-0302.