Like all dogs, the Poodle is also subject to various health issues. The following list is by no means conclusive, as research is still ongoing. The Poodle comes in three varieties – the Toy, Miniature and Standard. Each of these varieties are susceptible to different diseases. Below is a general list of health issues affecting Poodles.
Addison’s disease involves an insufficient production of adrenal hormones by the adrenal gland. Adrenal hormones are extremely important for gastrointestinal function and can result in vomiting and poor appetite. Your dog may appear lethargic and tired. Addison’s disease can lead to further complications such as hypoadrenocortism, which could be fatal.
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
Canine atrial septal defect (ASD) is a relatively rare congenital heart malformation in which the heart has a hole between its upper chambers. The malformation has recently been recognized among Standard Poodles and seems to run in families, suggesting a genetic cause. Although dogs with ASD may have no symptoms if the hole is small, ASD signs might include coughing, trouble breathing, exercise intolerance and possibly collapse or fainting, and even death from heart failure. Surgery can repair the hole in dogs suffering ASD symptoms.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat)
In the bloated stomach, gas and/or food stretches the stomach many times its normal size, causing tremendous abdominal pain. For reasons we do not fully understand, this grossly distended stomach has a tendency to rotate, thus twisting off not only its own blood supply but the only exit routes for the gas inside. Not only is this condition extremely painful but it is also rapidly life-threatening. A dog with a bloated, twisted stomach (more scientifically called “Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus”) will die in pain in a matter of hours unless drastic steps are taken.
Chronic Active Hepatitis (CAH)
A liver disease where the liver is inflamed – dogs with this disease experience slow, progressive liver failure. CAH usually occurs between 5-7 years of age. Some early signs include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, vomiting yellowish bile, weight loss, depression, increased water intake, increased urination, and sluggishness. Jaundice occurs when the disease worsens. Take your dog for yearly blood screening to detect early onset of CAH. Treatment includes medication and a special diet, depending on the stage the disease is at.
There are three forms of Cushings disease – pituitary, non-pituitary, and cortisone. Most dogs have the most common form – pituitary – which involves a slow-growing form of cancer that is located in the pituitary gland. This causes the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol.
The non-pituitary form involves the growth of a malignant tumour in one of both of the adrenal glands, which also causes overproduction of cortisol. The tumour is very aggressive and can spread to other parts of the body if the disease is not detected early on.
Cortisone develops from prolonged use of the drug “Cortisone” and makes the body think it has more cortisone than it actually does.
Symptoms of all forms of Cushings include excessive appetite, increased water intake, frequent urination, large pot belly, thin skin, hair loss and thinning of hair, as well as a drastic change in texture of hair/fur. Though it is usually seen in older dogs, the onset may begin in early life, thus plan regular visits to your veterinarian for early detection.
Many factors can cause seizures in dogs, such as metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, tumours, exposure to poisons, severe head injuries, and more. The prognosis for seizures depends a lot on the particular disorder and how early it is diagnosed.
This occurs when the joints in your dog’s hips are malformed, but with proper diet and exercise he can lead a full and active life. In severe cases, surgical correction may be encouraged. This can occur to dogs of all ages and should be treated as soon as it is detected.
Hypothyroidism occurs when there is a malfunctioning thyroid. It is caused by an inadequate production of the thyroid hormone. Symptoms include skin conditions, obesity, excessive hunger, irregular heat cycles, excessively coarse coat texture, inability to stay warm, and lethargy.
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCPD)
LCPD is a degenerative disease of the hip joint and causes the blood supply to the joints to be interrupted resulting in the death of the bone cells. When the joints begin to heal, they form irregular fits which result in chipping of the new bone structure. This leads to stiffness and pain. The causes for LCPD are unknown but it is believed to be genetic.
Neonatal Encephalopathy (NEwS)
This is a fatal disease of the brain in new-born Standard Poodles. Affected pups are weak, uncoordinated, and mentally dull from birth. If they survive the first few days, their growth may be stunted. When normal puppies in the litter start walking, some pups with NEwS cannot stand at all and others struggle to their feet with jerky steps, falling frequently. Seizures develop in most at 4-5 weeks, and the puppies die or are euthanized before they reach weaning age. Researchers have identified the gene mutation that causes NEwS, and a DNA test is now available that allows breeders to avoid producing affected puppies by never breeding two dogs to each other if they are both carriers of the abnormal gene.
Patellar luxation is the dislocation (slipping) of the patella (kneecap). In dogs the patella is a small bone that shields the front of the stifle joint. This bone is held in place by ligaments. As the knee joint is moved, the patella slides in a grove in the femur. The kneecap may dislocate toward the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) of the leg. This condition may be the result of injury or congenital deformities (present at birth). Patellar luxation can affect either or both legs.The most common occurrence of luxating patella is the medial presentation in small or miniature dog breeds. Shallow femoral groove, weak ligaments and mal-alignment of the tendons and muscles that straighten the joint are all conditions that will predispose a dog toward luxating patellae. Indications of patellar luxation are; difficulty in straightening the knee, pain in the stifle, limping, or the tip of the hock points outward while the toes point inward.
Sebaceous Adenitis (SA)
This is a common disorder in Standard Poodles involving inflammation of sebaceous glands that normally lubricate the skin and hair follicles. Heredity plays a role in SA, although the mode of inheritance is not yet understood. The disease has been identified in more than 30 breeds as well as mixed-breed dogs. While Standards represent the vast majority of Poodle cases, SA also has been reported in Miniature and Toy Poodles. Symptoms include scaling, flaking and thickening of the skin, hair loss (often with a “moth eaten” appearance) and sometimes odor and sores caused by secondary infection. The disease can be difficult to diagnose, often mistaken for hypothyroidism, allergies or other conditions affecting the skin. Although there is no cure for SA, oil baths and other treatments often can keep symptoms under control. Currently the only diagnostic test available for SA is a skin biopsy evaluated by a dermatopathologist, and Standard Poodles used for breeding should have a yearly biopsy.
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD)
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. Symptoms include excessive bleeding anywhere in or on the body. Treatment must be sought immediately or you dog could bleed to death. Transfusions with blood collected from normal dogs is the only proven way to treat Von Willebrand’s disease. Some dogs with Von Willebrand’s disease also are hypothyroid – meaning they have lower than normal levels of thyroid hormone. These dogs will benefit from thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Some studies have been done which suggest a drug called desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) may help dogs with a bleeding episode. The drug can be administered intranasally (into the nose) to increase clotting. There is still some controversy over whether this treatment is effective. There is no cure for Von Willebrand’s disease. Prevention through eliminating affected individuals from any breeding program is the goal of veterinary medicine today. Tests are available to determine which dogs may have this trait. All individuals with a history of this disorder in their backgrounds should be tested.