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Care (Top 9 Tips)

Top 9 Poodle Care Tips

Kismet, at 9 years old
Photo courtesy of Paul & Michelle Randall


If you already have a Poodle, no doubt you already know how much time and effort must go into caring for your canine family member; however, it’s easy to get used to a particular routine and doing this can cause owners to overlook a few care elements or let just a bit too much time pass in between.

In addition, for some care related tasks, owners can be unsure about how often these should be done or the best way to go about doing them. 

And for anyone who is thinking about bringing a Poodle into their home, it’s always a good idea to understand the scope of the responsibility and plan for it. 

For these reasons, this section will cover the 9 most important care tips for a Poodle of any age. 

Care Tip #1: Offer a high-quality food 

Feeding your Poodle the right food affects him both now and long-term. Far too many commercial brands are subpar; they may have chemicals such as artificial colorings, flavoring and preservatives which can cause everything from itchy skin to upset stomach. 

Many also have fillers which are zero calorie elements that only serve to plump up food (making it appear as if there is more than is actually there); these are not absorbed by the body and simply get flushed out. These are responsible for making a dog hungry soon after he ate and for lack of nourishment despite eating. 

The other culprit is by-products which are ingredients deemed unfit for human consumption, but are perfectly legal to put into dog food; this includes beaks, feathers, stomach lining and other things that you wouldn’t want your Poodle to be eating. 

Issues that may get in the way: It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeding what you ‘always have’, choosing a familiar sounding brand at the store or  offering what seems to be popular.  However, you may be inadvertently feeding a 1, 2, or 3 star rated food. 

What to do: It’s recommended to offer a 5-star food and at the least, 4 star, which means that it will not contain the above mentioned elements and will offer a healthy, balanced diet. Our top pick is Orijen; it is clearly one of the best. 

If you are not sure what rating your Poodle’s food has, you can find out at DogFoodAdvisor

Care Tip #2: Choose healthy snacks as well

Most dogs will receive a portion of their nutrition via snacks; depending on the Poodle, this can vary from 10 to 25% of his daily intake. So, choosing the right treats is vital as well.  

Many manufactured treats contain harmful chemicals that can cause allergies including itching, some such as raw hides pose risks including choking and internal blockage and others offer nothing of value to the body. 

Issues that may get in the way: The makers of treats know what to do to sell; they offer tempting sounding tidbits with cheerful colors in fun shapes. And in many cases, a Poodle may gobble these right up, which leads owners to assume that all is well, when in fact the snack is detrimental.  

What to do: Find the right balance of both wholesome foods: raw carrots, blueberries & raspberries (many Poodle love these frozen), banana slices, strawberries, apple slices (no core or seeds) and commercial treats. 

With those that you purchase, look for ones only made in the USA (or North America, as Canada-sourced treats also have a good reputation), and choose those that only have natural coloring and preservatives.  

Care Tip #3: Assess the Water that Your Poodle Drinks. 

There 2 elements to be aware of here: How much your Poodle is taking in and the quality of the water. 

Inadequate intake - Many dogs have trouble self-regulating and simply do not drink enough. Even a 3% drop in body water levels can cause slight dehydration that results in loss of focus, headaches and/or agitation.

Though much depends on a dog’s activity level, age, health status and the weather, in general a dog needs a minimum of 8 oz. (1 cup) for each 10 pounds of body weight. This can double during the summer if the dog is very active outside.

For example, a 5 lb. toy Poodle needs at least 4 oz. (1/2 cup) per day, and up to (8 oz.) 1 cup in the summer. 

A 15 lb. miniature Poodle needs at least (12 oz.) 1.5 cups per day, and up to (24 oz.) 3 cups in the summer.

A 60 lb. standard Poodle needs at least (48 oz.) 6 cups per day, and up to (96 oz.) 12 cups in the summer. 
Photo courtesy of Monica
The other issue is the quality of the water and if you are giving your Poodle tap water, you’ll want to reconsider. Tap water in 42 states contains 141 unregulated chemicals. Even in regard to the chemicals in tap water which are known, many are known to be dangerous. Agents in water have been shown to lead to everything from thyroid issues to kidney disease to cancer. 

Why is this allowed? Some toxins are deemed safe only for healthy adults (so not for children and certainly not for small pets), others are ‘safe’ based on 1 serving and overall more testing and stricter regulation needs to be done. 

Since our dogs drink water and only water, every single day for their entire life, this is quite a problem. 

Issues that may get in the way: In regard to intake, many owners assume that their Poodle will self-regulate. In regard to offering unfiltered water, essentially, many owners do not know the risks of tap water and for those that do, they are unsure what to do.   

What to do: For intake, encourage your Poodle to drink by leading him to the water dish. Many dogs drink much more when given a canine water fountain; the noise and the motion attracts them to it. Bring along water whenever you go for a walk, taking a break at the halfway point to rehydrate. Keep the dish clean and refill it (not just top it off) regularly to keep it clean from food bits and nice and cool. 

For safety, you may want to look into having a filter attachment to your kitchen tap. Some, like the PUR Advanced Faucet Filter, is certified to remove over 70 contaminants, including 99% of lead, 92% of pesticides and 96% of mercury.

Care Tip #4: Choose The Right Bowl

The type of bowl you choose for your Poodle is important for several reasons.

Material: Steer clear of plastic bowls; even those that are BPA free can cause a wide range of problems. Plastic bowls can cause a dog’s nose to become discolored, can cause allergic reactions, these nick and scratch easily which can cause them to harbor bacteria and most are lightweight which causes them to slip around as a dog is trying to eat or drink.

Stainless steel bowls are best, and ceramic is a second option, though these can crack or break.  

Type: Toy Poodles can do well with both floor or raised bowls and depending on the height, will eat more heartedly. 

However, both mini Poodles and standard Poodles should only have floor level dishes. This is vital because Poodles are prone to bloat (mini Poodles are ranked #25 for risk, 3 times more likely than mixed breeds) and standard Poodles are ranked #6 for risk; 8.8 times more likely than mixed breeds) and raised bowls increases the risk of this sometimes fatal condition. 

Size: You’ll want a bowl that is of appropriate size for your Poodle, in both diameter and depth, to offer a dish that makes eating easy for your puppy or dog.

Measured intake – With mini and standard Poodles, another risk for bloat is fast ingestion of food or water. Therefore, if your Poodle tends to eat and/or drink quickly, you’ll want to have a slow-feeder dish or place a portion pacer inside his bowl.   
Toy Poodle in a cup
Duncan, at 12 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Carol Van de Water

Care Tip #5: Safety 

Many injuries and health emergencies can be avoided by routinely following care guidelines for safety. Of top concern is ingesting non-food objects (choking, internal blockage, poisoning) and injury via falls or being tripped over. 

Why this may not be done: Owners may do this task when first bringing home a new puppy, but then phase out of this, assuming that the dog has learned. It is important to note that most dogs to not mouth objects with the intention of ingesting them. They mouth things to find out what they are, to chew them or simply out of boredom.  

In regard to injury, you may be surprised to learn that based on a 20-year study by the University of Georgiathe top leading cause of death for puppies (all breeds) is trauma. 

And for adults Poodles, trauma is the 3rd leading cause of death for both standard and miniature Poodles (10.1% and 10.8%, respectively) and the 2nd leading cause of death for toys (11.7%). 

Yet, so much of this can be avoided. 

What to do: 

1. Puppy-proof the house, regularly, no matter how old your Poodle is. Always be on the lookout for items that may have fallen to the floor, check right under furniture (where a dog’s paw could swipe something out) and use cord concealer for any electrical cords that may be accessible. 
2. Use gates to block off any steps or other areas that may be dangerous. This is particularly relevant with puppies and with older, senior Poodles that may have trouble navigating around the house. 

3. Use child-proof locks on lower cabinets. There are cases of dogs getting into cabinets and chewing on/ingesting everything from feminine hygiene products to Band-Aids. 

4. Never let your Poodle off leash, unless you are in an area such as an enclosed yard under supervision, a gated dog park or other area in which you are sure that there is no chance that your Poodle can run off. 

5. Part of ‘death by trauma’ involves injuries received as a passenger in the car; we address this next. 

Care Tip #6: Keep Your Poodle Safe When in the Car 

As we touched on above, trauma is a serious issue to be aware of. Keeping your Poodle properly seated when in the car is vital. 

Car accidents happen more than you may think. In the U.S., there are over 100 deaths PER DAY from car accidents. This is over 37,000 per year. And in regard to injuries, 2.35 million people are injured each year. Globally, there are 3,287 PER DAY. 

Dogs are not being kept safe; A joint study by AAA and Kurgo Pet Products found that 52% of pet owner drivers routinely have their pet with them in the car, but only 16% used a proper safety restraint.  

How dangerous can it be if you don’t follow this care tip? Here’s some examples of crash force:

Crashing at 20 MPH, an unrestrained 10 lb. dog will suffer a 200 lb. crash force.

At 40 MPH, an unrestrained 30 lb. dog will suffer a 1,200 lb. crash force.

At 50 MPH, an unrestrained 40 lb. dog will suffer a 2,000 lb. crash force.

What to do: Make sure that every time your Poodle is a passenger in your car, you have him properly restrained. 

Toy Poodle and many miniature Poodles do best (and are safest) when in a booster canine car seat. Small dogs do best with booster seats, as these work well to keep them safe, and also allow them line-of-sight which can cut down on motion sickness and general restlessness.

Adult Standard Poodles, will need a car safety belt. You may wish to opt for a ‘direct to tether’ accessory which connects from your Poodle’s harness to your car’s seat belt. These are very easy to use and you can leave the attachment clicked in, so that it only takes 3 seconds to secure this. Another option is a harness & connector all-in-one, which is both the harness and the short belt that connects that to the car’s seat belt. 

Care Tip #7: Proper Exercise 

Making sure that your Poodle receives enough exercise is vital to overall good health and is a step that can help increase life span

Physically, exercise keeps the heart healthy, works to maintain muscle tone and can reduce the risk of developing several diseases including canine diabetes and even some cancers. 

Psychologically, exercise helps a dog release pent-up energy and often leads to better behavior. 

Socially, bringing a dog outside helps him to learn tolerance of outdoor elements, which leads to being better socialized and accepting of triggers such as other dogs, children and such things as traffic. 

Poodles, of all varieties, should ideally have two walks per day, lasting from 20 to 30 minutes. 

Issues that may get in the way: It’s easy to assume that a small dog that stays busy inside does not need long walks; however, moving about in the house is not the same as purposeful walking. In addition, for all sized Poodles, time and weather play a role in how often owners follow through with walking their dogs. 
female Poodle
Candy, at 4 months old
Photo courtesy of Cristina Hurtado  
What to do: Plan an exercise schedule for your Poodle and stick with it, having it be one of your top priorities. This may involve waking up a bit earlier and/or delegating tasks to other family members. Prepare for less-than-ideal weather by having some key clothing pieces for your Poodle such as a warm vest or sweater on cold days. 

In the winter and summer, protect your dog’s paws with a quality paw wax. In the winter, this will help prevent snowballing (tiny ice or snow pebbles that get wedged between toes or paw pads, causing discomfort), adds traction, and adds a layer of protection from sand, salt, ice melt chemicals and freezing surfaces. In the summer, a good wax will help protect from sizzling hot pavement and help the paws retain proper moisture. 
Christopher, at 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Cristina Hurtado  

Care Tip #8: Annual Vet Visits

Wellness checks are an important part of care. Just like humans should have annual health exams, so should our pets. For senior Poodles, twice-per-year geriatric check-ups are needed. 

There is a vast array of health issues that when caught early are exceedingly easier and less costly to treat. 

The vet will perform a complete examination of the body, listen to the heart and lungs and screening will be done (urinalysis, stool sample, blood tests) to rule out common issues that do occur with dogs. 

These are all important aspects of a checkup that can find issues before a dog is so ill that clinical signs are obvious. 

Issues that may get in the way: The two main reasons that owners skip this are cost and denial. 

What to do: Just as you budget for other ‘must haves’, so should you for this. The average cost of the initial exam is between $50 to $70. Testing may run between $100 and $200. 
With the high end of this estimate being $270, you may want to round up to $300. When broken down, this equals $25 a month. You may want to consider trying to save double this, putting away $50 a month, to cover unexpected treatments, including medication. 

Care Tip #9: Dental Hygiene

Poodles tend to have tooth problems; this ranges from decay to tooth loss, so making a concerted effort to care for your Poodle’s teeth goes a long way both his overall health and his quality of life.  

Just like humans, plaque is constantly being formed. Without removal, this hardens on the teeth (tartar) and travels under the gum line.

It often leads to decay, gingivitis, infection (which not only can be exceedingly painful for a dog, but also can travel up into the sinuses or even to vital organs) and eventual tooth loss which can cause major problems for older dogs. 

Roadblocks: Far too many owners assume that a dog does not need any care given to his teeth and that chewing on toys is enough. It’s not. Implementing at-home and professional dental care can add years to a dog’s life. 

What to do: There are 3 main steps to take:

1. Brush your Poodle’s teeth. Once per day is recommended, for at least 3 minutes. Use a quality canine toothbrush and canine toothpaste. 

2. Give your Poodle quality canine dental treats. We highly recommend Greenies; these are the top vet-recommended dental treat, are well received by most dogs, help remove both plaque and tartar and will help maintain both healthier gums and teeth. In addition, a nice added bonus is that they freshen a dog’s breath. 
3. Professional cleanings are important as well. During your Poodle’s annual wellness check, the vet will inspect the teeth, looking for signs of decay and assess any buildup. X-rays may be taken and any outstanding issues should be treated ASAP.

A Final Word

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to assume that your dog is doing just fine and no changes need to be made in regard to care. However, lots of issues can be bubbling right under the surface. By following these care tips, you can know that you’re providing the best care possible and you’ll be helping to ensure that your Poodle will as healthy and safe as possible. 
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