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Health Problems

Poodle Health Concerns

Overview

Like any other breed, the Poodle is prone to certain heath problems.  Many of these can be found among all size varieties and others are more common to either the toy, mini or standard Poodle. We will go over some basic yet important health care tips and then cover the health issues and diseases that owners should be aware of. 
Essential Health Care Tips

For a dog to simply survive, they must have food, water and shelter. In order for a dog to be happy and healthy, they need so much more. What type of every day care does a Poodle need?

Quality food - The type of food that you feed your Poodle has a direct connection to your pet's health. It is so easy to grab a bulk bag of dog food...but detrimental in many ways.  Offering the right food can prevent so health issues ranging from allergies to chemical additive to proper weight management.

In addition, a  healthy diet can work to extend your Poodle's life span.
Exercise -  A proper exercise routine is vital to good health.  A daily walk (two is best) at a pace that is slightly brisk for your Poodle is recommenced to maintain proper muscle mass, keep the metabolism running well and heart health. Keep in mind that too much exercise at the wrong times can cause bloat in Standard Poodles and if a Toy or Miniature is over-exercised at a young age this can cause luxation issues in the knees. 

Companionship - For a Poodle to be healthy, this includes mental health as well. To be content, a Poodle needs a loving family who offers attention and care.   Being socialized to different people, places and situations and simply time to relax with the family in peaceful environment will decrease stress which is a benefit for any dog.

Dental care - Too many owners overlook the importance of proper canine dental care. Infection of the teeth and/or gums can cause serious issues for this breed. Owners should brush the teeth daily with a quality paste and appropriate brush. 

Regular Vet checks -  Routine checkups are vital - never just bring your Poodle to the vet when he/she is ill - be sure to keep those regular appointments.

Worm, flea & tick prevention - It is such a shame when a dog owner doesn't believe that their dog is at risk for heartworms or other parasites and does not use any prevention treatments. Heartworms, fleas and ticks must be kept at bay.
Most Common Health Problems Seen in Poodles- Overview

For the Toy Poodle, the top concerns are:

Skin tumors, bladder stones, tracheal collapse, Cushing’s Disease and cataracts.

For all Poodles (toy, miniature and standard) health concerns are: Addison’s disease, bloat, thyroid issues (both hyperthyroid and hypothyroid), hip dysplasia, collapsed trachea, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Sebaceous Adenitis, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease and epilepsy. 
two Poodles
Common Health Problems Seen with Poodle Puppies

Hypoglycemia - One of the most important health issues to understand and be ready for is the possibility of hypoglycemia. All puppies are vulnerable to developing this...and if it happens, it happens very quickly. Toy and Miniatures are going to be more prone to this, however any puppy can develop hypoglycemia particularly from birth to 4 months.

This is a very sudden drop in blood sugar levels. It can be fatal.  It can be brought on by stress or not eating enough on a regular basis. 

The symptoms will be 1 or all of the following signs:  Weakness, walking clumsily, appearing to be confused, shaking, shivering or head tremors, falling down, slowed breathing.  If treatment is not given, the puppy can slip into a coma and this can be fatal.

Since is very normal for Poodle puppies to act sleepy and to take many naps during the day, there is usually no need to worry if a puppy shows just one of the signs.  However if you have the feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are not sure if your Poodle is dizzy, you can stand him up and see how he is walking.

The treatment is to very quickly raise the blood sugar levels in the puppy and this should be done before you seek help at the veterinarian or animal hospital. This is done by gently rubbing honey on your Poodle's gums. Do not use Karo syrup, as many sources will recommend, because it can act as a laxative and make things even worse. The honey will be absorbed directly into the blood stream to work quickly. If you do not have honey, you can offer warm water with dissolved sugar, best hand fed with a small spoon. 

Within minutes you should see improvement. It is then that your Poodle should be brought to the nearest vet or animal clinic. In severe cases, a puppy may need an IV to balance out blood sugar levels and be monitored until they are out of the "danger zone". If you are not sure if your Poodle is experiencing this, to be safe you can offer your puppy 1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar water, it will not cause damage, it will simply make for 1 very hyper puppy for a short amount of time. 
Common Poodle Health Issues - All Ages & All Sizes

Hip DysplasiaThis is a condition in which the Poodle's hip joint deteriorates or is weaken.  It is thought to be genetic.  When a Poodle has hip dysplasia, the socket is not formed correctly or the ligaments that hold the 2 sections together do not have enough integrity. This causes the ball to become dislocated. 

While this is inherited, there are other factors that can make this problem worse:

• Being overweight – any excess weight will put more of a strain on the Poodle's hips
• Too much exercise before a Poodle enters into adulthood – which causes prolonged stress on the hip
• A faster than average growth rate – which a dog owner has no control over

Symptoms may begin to show as young as 5 to 10 months old. A Poodle of any age can be diagnosed with this, as the condition may be very subtle in the dog’s early life and only as the dog grows older will an owner notice the signs:

• Weakness in the limbs, usually in the hind legs and often after activity such as walking briskly for a moderate amount of time
• Difficulty rising up off of the floor
• Hopping – walking by bringing both rear legs up at the same time similar to how a rabbit hops
• Rising using front legs only and dragging rear end as if the legs are limp or numb
Taking very small, hesitant steps
• Unwillingness to jump, exercise, climb stairs or walk uphill

There are treatments. Medication is usually tried first, before surgery would be done. Medication includes anti-inflammatory medications, often coupled with bed rest.  This works well for minor cases.  Some dogs will suffer from ongoing dislocation issues which become progressively worse as the bones wear down. If a Poodle does not show recovery with medicine and bed rest, surgery may be warranted. 
Epilepsy -  While there are technically 4 types of seizures, epilepsy is the most common one seen with canines.  

A dog will have a combination of some of the following symptoms:
  • Drooling
  • Staring out into space
  • Walking in place or pacing back and forth
  • Making strange movements
  • Not responding to you
  • Appearing very confused
  • Stiff limbs
  • Passing out (unconscious)
  • Breathing can stop
To help your Poodle's veterinarian diagnosis the severity of the seizure and the type that your Poodle has, there are some things that you can do to help:

Do not try to hold your Poodle's tongue, this should not be done. If there are any objects near your dog, move them away, such as chairs, coffee tables, etc. Immediately shut off any noises such as the TV, radio, etc. Turn off any bright lights. Speak in a calming voice. Carefully put a slim pillow under your Poodle's head. Be sure to write down information that the vet will need to know:
  • When this happened
  • How long it lasted for
  • All signs that your dog showed
  • What your Poodle was doing right before the seizure
It can also help to video the episode so that the vet knows exactly what happened. 

Medication is used to treat canine epilepsy in Poodles, however it can not completely cure it. Phenobarbital, Dilantin or Primidone are commonly used.
Poodle being walked on harness
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) -  This is a progressive eye disease that does lead to blindness, as there is no cure for this though many studies are still being conducted.  Preliminary tests show some hope for antioxidant supplementation, which cannot stop the blindness from occurring but has been shown to slow down the process with some dogs. 

The retina of the eyes are affected and it always happens to both eyes at the same time. Early symptoms include: 
  • Night vision problems - Your Poodle may show signs that he or she is having a hard time seeing in dim lighting
  • Pupils can become dilated, causing owners to notice that the eyes appear shiny
From the time that signs are obvious to when a dog loses his sight is typically 6 months. 

Many dogs do quite well in a loving environment and it is thought that because this happens slowly, many dogs cope effectively.  
Sebaceous Adenitis -  This is a skin disease that leads to hair loss and is much more common with Standard Poodles than Toys or Minis, but is seen in all varieties to some extent.  It occurs most commonly to Poodles between the ages of 1-7 years old.  With this condition, the  sebaceous glands , which are responsible for the production of sebum (oil) on the skin do not function properly. This leads to dry, scaly skin and for many, hair loss. 

While this health issue is considered a cosmetic event that does not affect a dog's life span, it does affect quality of life as there can be quite a bit of discomfort and dry skin can crack open leaving it vulnerable to secondary infection. 

Treatment involved Keratolytic shampoos, done 3-4 times per week. This helps to sooth irritated skin and removes scaling. Oxydex shampoo and topical antibiotic ointments will help with infections. A Propylene Glycol (50-70% solution) rinse can be helpful as well.

Somewhat controversial treatments include retinoids (which are expensive and can cause birth defects if given to a dog that then gives birth to or sires a litter) and Cyclosporine medication (which can weaken a dog's immune system which causes even more skin infections and other problems). 

There has been some promising results with the supplement of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids which are often used for skin and coat issues.
Luxating Patella - This is found most among small breed dogs, such as the Toy Poodle, but can also affect Miniatures or Standards.  With this, the kneecap slips out of place.  This is thought to be a genetic issue that cause a malformation of the bone; however injury can trigger this as well. 

A Poodle may show symptoms on and off; however without treatment, this health issue usually gets worse as time goes by.  With some dogs, when the kneecap slips out of place, pain is only experienced at that time and then the dog goes back to feeling fine.  After a period of time ranging from hours to days, inflammation will develop which leads to pain and the manifestation of additional symptoms.  Signs include limping, hold the leg in an odd position, lameness in one leg and reluctance to exercise. 

Similar to hip dysplasia, treatment often includes both bed rest and anti-inflammatory medications. Only severe cases will need surgical repair. It should be noted that Poodles that have had this will be much more prone to arthritis. 
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease - Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCP Disease) is a congenital degeneration (which means it is present at birth) of the bone ends in the hips that occurs most often with Toy and Miniature Poodles.

It causes a reduction of blood supply to the bone that is affected. This, in turn, causes discomfort, weakness and lameness. Without treatment, the Poodle's leg can stop growing, which can cause that leg to be shorter than the others.

Males dogs are much more likely to develop this than females (4:1) and it most often occurs to puppies between the ages of 4 months and 1 year old.

While this is a very serious health condition, the treatment is fairly straightforward; strict best rest for up to 6 months. Surprising, a dog can have complete recovery if an owner follows this constantly and without fail. 
white Poodle on beach
The Poodle must be placed into a small crate or cage and forced to rest, only being allowed out for urination or elimination purposes. After 6 months, most Poodles have a completely healed femoral head (bone end), have no pain and walk normally.

If the bone end collapses during this confined, resting therapy, surgery is then performed.
Health Issues Common with Miniature & Standard Poodles

von Willebrand's Disease - This is a disease that causes blood clotting issues. There are 3 types, and most Poodles, if the are to have vWD, have type I, the most common and mild type. Type II and III are rare and much more severe.

Common symptoms are:

• Nose bleeds
• Bleeding from the gums
• Excessive bleeding during heat or whelping for females
• Blood in the urine or stool

This condition cannot be cured but it can be managed. Mild bleeding can be controlled by applying pressure to the area. In some cases, sutures may be needed. Severe cases re treated with transfusions. Thyroid supplements may help to control bleeding, if a veterinarian determines that a dog is hypothyroid.
Health Issues Seen with Standard Poodles

Gastric Tortion-Bloat - Commonly referred to as simply 'Bloat' and sometimes as 'Killer bloat', this is caused by too much gas or fluid in the dog's stomach. This gas can bloat out the stomach causing gastric dilation. If the stomach partially rotates its called gastric torsion. If it fully rotates its called gastric volvolus. Each can be a life threatening problem.

It has been found that Standard Poodles that suffer from bloat commonly:
  • Are between 4-7 years old
  • Are male (2/3's of Poodles with bloat are males)
  • Eat large quantities dry kibble 
  • Exercise heavily within 2 hours of eating a meal
Symptoms - It is extremely important to take note of symptoms of bloat right away. The signs are:
  • Excessive salivation and drooling
  • Extreme restlessness
  • Vomiting (this may be an odd white or clear fluid) or attempts to vomit
  • Evidence of abdominal pain (the Poodle whines and groans if you push on the stomach wall)
  • The stomach appears swollen
  • Rapid breathing
  • Pale gums
This considered to be a medical emergency and must be treated asap. If a Poodle does indeed have bloat, emergency surgery will be performed. 
Addison's disease - The scientific name for this disease is hypoadrenocorticism which refers to an insufficient production of cortisone and aldosterone hormones by the adrenal glands.  The biggest issue with this canine disease is that it is not often diagnosed early due to symptoms being vague or coming and going. 

While any dog breed can come down with Addison's, it is the Standard Poodle which is most often diagnosed with this.  This most often affects middle-aged female dogs; though it can develop in males as well.

Symptoms include:
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Random vomiting
  • Random bloody diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Possible muscle spasms
  • Slow than normal heart rate
This is diagnosed with blood and urine tests. Fortunately, once a Poodle is diagnosed with Addison's, life-long replacement therapy with cortisone and aldosterone can restore a dog back to health and prognosis is excellent, especially for those that have this diagnosed in the early stages.
You may also be interested in:

Poodle snoring - How much snoring is normal, signs of health issues and simple steps you can take at home to reduce this issue. 
Poodle Constipation - Reasons why this happens, helpful at-home remedies and prevention. 
Inverted hair on a Poodle - It's amazing how much damage can be done by one hair growing inward. Learn why this happens, signs & symptoms, treatment and prevention.
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