Most Common Health Problems Seen in Poodles
Do you have a poodle? While they can live long and healthy lives, there are some health issues that you should look out for in your toy poodle. By knowing what signs to look for, you will quickly and easily pinpoint what is going on in your Poodle and if it is time to see your vet.
These are some of the most common health issues that are seen in Poodles. If you notice any health issues with your Poodle, it would be best for them to see your vet. They can quickly assess your Poodle and see what is causing these issues.
Heart Disease in Poodles
Older Poodles can develop heart issues as they get older. Smaller Poodles tend to develop congestive heart failure due to mitral valve disease. Standard poodles tend to develop Dilated Cardiomyopathy.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) due to Mitral Valve Disease
In small breeds such as a toy poodle, they can commonly have issues with the valves in their heart working as properly as they should when they get older. This can lead to congestive heart failure. If your Poodle has congestive heart failure or any heart failure at all, they will usually cough more, have exercise intolerant, and breathe heavy. Your vet can take an x-ray of your dog and listen to your dog’s heart to see if your Poodle has a heart murmur or fluid in their lungs. If your vet does find that your dog has heart issues, there are medications that they can start your dog on to help their heart work more effectively.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy DCM
A Poodle who has dilated cardiomyopathy is caused by the ventricles of the heart getting enlarged. When this happens, the muscle of the wall of the heart gets thinner. This prevents their heart from beating effectively and from being able to function as it should.
Common signs associated with heart problems are:
- Trouble breathing
- Coughing, especially after long periods of time outside playing
- Passing out after bouts of energy
Your vet can listen to your Poodle’s heart to see if your Poodle has a heart murmur. Your vet will also listen to your Poodle’s lungs since many heart diseases can also cause problems with your dog’s lungs. If your dog does have a heart murmur would indicate that there may be something wrong with your dog’s heart.
If your Poodle does show signs of heart disease, your vet will want to run tests on your dog’s heart. This will give them a bigger picture of how your dog’s heart is functioning. The most common tests that your vet would suggest are:
- X rays of the chest
- Echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart, and
- EKG to show the electrical conduction of the heart
The results of all of these tests will help them figure out how progressed your Poodle’s heart disease is and can help them develop the best treatment plan for your dog. Once your vet figures out exactly what is causing your Poodle’s heart issue, there are medications that your dog can be started on. These medications will help your Poodle’s heartbeat more effectively and decrease any fluid in the chest and abdomen.
Kidney Failure In Poodles
As dogs get older, their organs do not function as they should. Commonly their kidneys do not work as they should. This can lead to kidney destruction and failure. When your dog’s kidneys do not work properly, they do not filter out the waste products from your toy poodle’s blood. This can make your dog very sick. There are supplements and a kidney diet your older Poodle can take to help the kidneys function as they should.
Diabetes in Poodles
Diabetes is common in poodles. This is just like with people where their blood sugar gets very high. This can cause your dog to have signs such as drinking a lot of water and peeing a lot. If you notice this, your vet can easily and quickly check your dog’s blood sugar. If they are diabetic, they can start on insulin injections, just like people get to help control their diabetes.
Dental Disease in Poodles
While dental issues do not directly cause your Poodle to die, the bacteria that live in their mouths can lead to many health issues. When the bacteria and tartar build up on your dog’s teeth, this can enter your dog’s bloodstream. The bacteria then can travel anywhere in your dog’s body. This commonly causes endocarditis (an infection in your dog’s heart) or kidney disease. By keeping your Poodle’s teeth cleaned, you can help them live a long and healthy life.
Poodles can get into fights with other dogs or escape your yard and get hit by a car. Some of these incidents can lead to broken legs, punctured wounds, and even death.
Cancers Affecting Poodles
Unfortunately, poodles do get cancer. There are a few different types of cancer that are commonly seen in poodles, such as:
Poodles commonly get lymphoma. This is a cancer of the lymphatic system and usually causes enlarged lymph nodes. You can find lymph nodes all over your dog. You can commonly feel the ones in their neck and behind their knees. If they have lymphoma, these will be enlarged as well as others that you may not commonly see.
Dogs with lymphoma can be treated with weekly chemotherapy. Many times with chemotherapy, dogs can go into remission and live a long life.
Osteosarcoma or Bone Cancer
Osteosarcoma is common cancer seen in large breed dogs such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Standard Poodles. Dogs with bone cancer will develop a swollen area around the wrist, knee, or shoulder. These areas are usually very hard when you touch them and can even be painful. Many times, Osteosarcoma is treated by surgically removing the affected leg, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. Sometimes surgery is not possible due to the size of your Poodle not being able to get around normally on three legs and the expense of the surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, bone cancer is very aggressive and carries a very poor prognosis.
Other Types of Cancer
There are also a few other types of cancer that can be commonly seen in Poodle as they get older. When you are playing with your Poodle, you may notice a new lump or bump on their body.
These may be benign fatty mass, but they could also be cancerous growth. It would be best for your Poodle to see your vet and examine these masses. Your vet can take a sample of the mass with a needle and look at this sample under a microscope. This will determine if this mass is cancerous or benign.
These are some of the signs that you should look for that would indicate that your Poodle may have cancer:
- Losing Weight
- Seeing physical growths in your Poodle
If you notice any of these signs, it would be best to have your vet examine your Poodle to see if these masses are cancerous. Your vet can also advise you on the best possible treatment for your Poodle.
Arthritis Problems in Poodles
If your Poodle has hip or elbow dysplasia when they are younger, as they age, they can develop arthritis. Even if your Poodle does not have elbow or hip dysplasia, they can develop arthritis as they get older.
A Poodle with arthritis will have issues moving around comfortably. They will usually have problems getting up; they may be limping or even not using one leg. Arthritis is very commonly seen in Poodles that are overweight. This extra weight puts pressure on your Poodles joints. Keeping your Poodle at healthy and lean body weight can help decrease the amount of pain your Poodle has from arthritis.
If your Poodle is limping for more than a few days, it would be best for you to make an appointment with your vet. They can fully examine your Poodle and help figure out what is causing your Poodle to limp.
Common signs that are seen with arthritis and joint pain in Poodles are:
- Problems walking
- Problems standing, usually after laying down for a long time
- Crying out from the pain
Your vet will prescribe your Poodle many different medications and joint supplements to reduce the pain and inflammation in your Poodle’s joints. There may even be a surgical procedure that can be done to permanently fix the joint problem. Surgery would depend on what is causing your Poodle’s problems.
Make an appointment with your vet for an exam to help you figure out the cause of your Poodle’s problem. Your vet can even prescribe them medication to help decrease the pain and inflammation from their arthritis.
Obesity in Older Poodles
Obesity is very often seen in older Poodles. As your dog starts to age, its metabolism slows down just like it does in people. When your Poodle’s metabolism slows down, you should start to decrease the amount of food you are feeding them just a little bit to help them from gaining excess weight.
Most people do not decrease the amount of food that they are feeding their Poodles once they become older and not as active. This will cause your dogs to become obese since most dogs do not know to stop eating when they are full. They will eat whatever is in front of them until it is all gone.
Overfeeding your Poodle will cause them to put on a few extra pounds and can cause many other health problems such as:
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Heart problems
- Liver and kidney problems
- Difficulty breathing
There are many ways that you can help your Poodle lose weight, such as:
- Increasing exercise time with your Poodle: When you take your Poodle outside to walk, take them for a long walk or a faster pace—even a short run around the block will easily help them shed a few pounds. You can even take them to your local dog park and throw a ball for them to chase. At the dog park, there may be other dogs for your Poodle to play with to help them exercise more while you sit, relax, and watch.
- Decreasing food intake: You can also help your Poodle lose weight by decreasing the amount that you are feeding your Poodle. It is best to start small and only decrease their food by about 10%. This will help them shed those few extra pounds.
Bloat or Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)
Gastric Dilation and Volvulus is the medical term for bloat. This means that your Poodle’s stomach has become enlarged with air or food, flipped over, and twisted. This causes an obstruction of the outflow of the stomach. Once your Poodle’s stomach has twisted, their stomach will quickly become distended and full of air, causing your dog to look bloated.
Common signs of bloat in a Poodle are:
- Hard, distended, or bloated abdomen
- Painful abdomen
- Excessive Drooling
- Increased Heart Rate or Pulse
If your Poodle has developed bloat, they need to see your vet as soon as possible or the closest emergency clinic if your vet is not open.
Bloat is a life-threatening emergency. This condition will usually need surgery. Bloating may cause a blockage in your Poodle’s GI tract. This is very painful. Usually, bloat cannot be treated at home.
Your vet will take an x-ray of your dog’s stomach to see if the stomach is twisted over. If your Poodle stomach is twisted, your vet will need to do emergency surgery and untwist your Poodle’s stomach. Once they have untwisted their stomachs, your vet will tack their stomach in place to prevent the stomach from twisting over again. This procedure is known as gastropexy.
There are many that you can do to prevent your Poodle from bloating. Sometimes, no matter how many preventative measures that you take, some dogs will bloat.
These are some things that you can do to help your Poodle not develop bloat:
- Feed your Poodle small frequent meals 2 to 3 times a day.
- After your Poodle eats, make them rest for about one hour to ensure that their food is fully digested.
Bloat is a very scary and potentially life-threatening condition that will need immediate veterinary care. With proper care and prevention, many Poodles who are prone to bloat can have lifestyle modifications that will help reduce their chance of bloating.
Addison’s Disease in Poodles
Addison’s disease is also known as hypoadrenocorticism. If your dog has Addison’s disease, their adrenal glands are not producing enough steroid hormones that are needed for their body to function correctly. Steroids play a large part in regulating your dog’s body functions and many vital organs. Without steroids, your dog’s body will deteriorate, which can cause serious and life-threatening issues for your dog.
Signs that your dog has Addison’s disease can almost be anything as this disease is commonly called the Great Pretender as it can mimic many different diseases.
If your Poodle does have Addison’s disease, they can easily be treated with prednisone tablets are given every day and a steroid injection given once a month. This will help provide their body the steroids that their organs need to function properly.
Usually, dog’s with Addison’s disease will live a long and healthy life as long as this disease is detected early and treated properly
HypoThyroid in Poodles
Hypothyroidism is caused by a decrease production and release of T4 and T3 hormones by the thyroid gland. Common signs seen in Poodles with hypothyroid are:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
If your Poodle is showing these signs, it would be best for your dog to see your vet. They can quickly run bloodwork to see if there are any issues with their thyroid glands. If they do have hypothyroidism, it can easily be treated with daily medication.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy or (PRA) is when your Poodles retina in their eye degenerates, causing them to slowly become blind. While there is no known treatment for this disease and these dogs will eventually go blind. Many Poodles can easily find their way around their house and yard, even being completely blind.
While there are many diseases that your Poodle can get, you can easily keep them healthy by providing adequate nutrition and proper exercise. Knowing what signs are seen with these diseases will allow you to detect a problem early in your Poodle’s life. As soon as you notice anything is wrong with your Poodle it is best for your vet to examine your dog to help them live a long and healthy life.
Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM graduated from St. George’s University Veterinary School in 2015. Since then, she has been at a small and exotic animal practice in Texas. In her free time, she loves making quilts and spending time with her husband Greg and their 4 fur kids. Two dogs, Ruby a schnoodle, and Bug a Japanese Chin, one cat named OJ and a leopard tortoise named Monkey.