Toy, Miniature and Standard Poodles are healthy and long-lived animals. But as with any species or breed of animal, despite good care, health problems sometimes arise. Poodles suffer from a number of genetic diseases. Genetic diseases are inherited health conditions passed down through generations. Signs of an inherited disease may not appear until your poodle is 3 to 7 years old. Anyone who owns a poodle should be familiar with these diseases, so symptoms are recognized early.
Hereditary Health Problems in Poodles:
- Addison’s Disease
- Auto immune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)
- Cushing’s Disease
- Hip Dysplasia
- Idiopathic Epilepsy
- Juvenile Renal Disease (JRD)
- Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP)
- Patella Sub-luxation
- Sebaceous Adenitis (SA)
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)
- Genetic Eye Diseases
A disorder caused by a deficiency in adrenocortical hormones. It occurs in all three poodle sizes but is most commonly seen in Standard females, 4 to 7 years of age. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, eating poorly, anorexia and general physical deterioration. Symptoms will worsen under stress.
Left untreated, Addison’s Disease is deadly. But once diagnosed the dog can be treated with daily or monthly medication to replace the hormones that the adrenal glands can’t produce. A poodle that continues to take these hormones can live a long life, though he’ll always be extra sensitive to stress.
Auto immune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)
A blood disease in which the body’s own immune system destroys red blood cells. This destruction happens when antibodies stick to the red blood cells and the immune system attacks those antibodies.
AIHA is a life-threatening disease, because without red blood cells, tissues aren’t able to receive necessary oxygen. It may be triggered by toxins, cancers, drugs, a blood parasite, virus or even vaccinations, but exactly why it happens is not understood.
Symptoms of AIHA include weakness, lethargy, pale gums, unusually dark urine, and yellow-tinged whites of the eye.
Cushing’s Disease (canine hyperadrenocorticism) is a syndrome in which the body is producing too much cortisone. The cause is most often a small tumor in the pituitary gland, located in the brain. The symptoms of Cushing’s Disease include: excessive consumption of water, increases frequency of urination, a ravenous appetite, hair loss, haircoat changes, and lethargy. Cushing’s Disease typically affects middle-age to older dogs. There are several treatment options available.
A condition in which the head of the femur fits improperly into the hip joint socket, causing pain and lameness. Pain killers and/or surgery are the usual treatments. Being a large dog, the Standard Poodle is more likely to suffer from Hip Dysplasia, though it can affect Miniatures and Toys.
Symptoms include decreased activity, stiffness, lameness, a swaggering gait, muscle wasting in thighs, unwillingness to jump or stand on the hind legs and soreness after lying down. It is important to keep your poodles weight to a healthy low level to help alleviate pressure on the hips.
Low thyroid function is the most common endocrine problem in dogs. Auto immune thyroiditis, in which the thyroid is destroyed by the body’s immune system, is genetic and is seen in all three varieties of poodles.
It can lead to weight gain (without an increase in eating), a coarse, brittle coat that falls out, thickening and discoloration of the skin, lethargy, obesity, mental slowness and irregular heart rhythm.
Hypothyroidism is fairly easily treated with medication that supplies the hormone that the body cannot make. The medication is given twice daily for the rest of the dogs life.
A neurological disorder marked by recurring seizures, abnormal discharges of electrical impulses by nerve cells in the brain. As in humans, it is controlled with drugs. Since these drugs can have long-term side affects, your veterinarian may first monitor your poodle to make sure the seizures are regular and severe enough to warrant treatment.
If your poodle has a seizure that lasts longer than 5 to 10 minutes, or has 3 or more seizures in a single day, seek veterinary help immediately.
Juvenile Renal Disease (JRD)
Chronic kidney failure is typically a disease of older dogs – their kidneys simply wear out. But dogs with JRD lose kidney function very early, often when they are less than a year old. JRD is an inherited condition seen in Standard Poodles.
Signs of Juvenile Renal Disease include increased thirst, urination, leaking urine and weight loss. Because of increased urination, puppies with JRD are hard to house train.
There is no cure – the kidneys will inevitably fail. But the earlier is caught, the more there is that can be done to slow the decline.
A painful hip disease in which the cap of the femur bone in the hip suffers a loss of blood supply. This leads to deterioration of the femoral head and eventually it no longer fits properly in the socket. This is painful and the dog becomes lame on that leg.
Dogs start showing early symptoms of LCP – limping, favoring one leg, or walking with a strange gait – when they are under a year old. Anti-inflammatory drugs and/or surgery are the usual treatments.
Slipped kneecap, a condition in which the patella (located at the joint of the hind leg) slides in and out of the groove where it is normally held in place by ligaments. It can occur in one or both knees and can show up in Toy and Miniature puppies as young as 8 weeks, though the problem can occur later in life.
A poodle with luxating patella will stand funny appearing bow-legged. He may cry out because of the pain and straighten his leg in an effort to put it back in place or he may hold it up. He may walk with a hitch in his gait. Depending on the severity of the luxation and the age of the dog, surgery may be required.
Sebaceous Adenitis (SA)
A chronic skin disorder that affects all three sizes of Poodles-most common in the Standard Poodle, resulting in abnormal, inflamed, or absence of, sebaceous glands. Symptoms may include excessive dandruff, scaling, darkened skin, thickened skin, a silvery scaling of the skin, a musty, unpleasant odor, and hair loss.
SA can show up when the poodle as young as 18 months or as old as 9 years. Diagnosing SA is done with a skin biopsy. Statistic show that as many as 50 percent of all Standard Poodles are carriers or affected. There is no cure. Therapeutic baths and antibiotics for secondary skin infections are the recommended treatments.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)
A disorder that involves a tendency to bleed easily, is caused by a deficiency in the von Willebrand factor, a protein found in the blood plasma. You should suspect vWD if your dog has excessive and prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery, has visible blood in his urine or is bleeding from the nose or gums.
Often a poodle with vWD has only mild symptoms and can lead very normal lives. You’ll have to be especially careful your poodle doesn’t get injured. Take care when trimming your poodles toenails and inform your groomer about the condition. Poodle-proofing your house by padding any sharp corners and any other hazards can help prevent injury.