Like any breed of dog the poodle can be hit with a number of health issues. Parisian Poodles strives to breed healthy puppies and we have a series of health testings done on our breeding poodles to ensure you will take home a healthy puppy. With that being said we believe it is important for future and current poodle owners to know what are the main health issues a poodle could have. Below we have some basic information on each of these. For more information it is important to talk to your family vet.
Important Poodle Health Information
Addison's Disease in Poodles
Addison’s disease is also known as hypoadrenocorticism. It is an insufficient production of adrenal hormones by the adrenal gland. Since these hormones are essential for life, this is an extremely serious disease and it must be treated as such.
Adrenal insufficiency can be primary or secondary. Primary adrenocorticism affects salt/potassium balance in the body and glucorticoid as well. Secondary adrenocorticism usually only affects the glucocorticoids. It is not known why primary adrenocorticism occurs but it may be an immune mediated process. Secondary adrenocorticism probably occurs most often when prednisone or other cortisone being administered for medical reasons are suddenly withdrawn. It can occur as a result of pituitary cancer or some other process that interferes with production of hormones that stimulate the adrenal glands.
Most dogs with Addison’s disease initially have gastrointestinal disturbances like vomiting. Lethargy is also a common early sign. Poor appetite can occur as well. These are pretty vague signs and it is extremely easy to miss this disease. More severe signs occur when a dog with hypoadrenocorticism is stressed or when potassium levels get high enough to interfere with heart function. Dogs with this problem will sometimes suffer severe shock symptoms when stressed, which can lead to a rapid death. When potassium levels get high heart arrythmias occur or even heart stoppage which also is fatal. In some cases, especially secondary Addison’s disease, there are no detectable electrolyte changes.
This disease can be picked up by changes in the ratio between sodium or potassium by accident at times. When this happens it is still extremely important to treat for it. It is confirmed by an ACTH response test — administration of this hormone should stimulate production of adrenal hormones. If this does not occur then hypoadrenocorticism is present. In cases in which the electrolyte levels are normal this is the only test for the problem and it will be missed unless it is looked for specifically. At times this disease can be hard to differentiate from renal failure because the symptoms and even the blood work can be similar, so the ACTH response test may be necessary to differentiate them.
Atrial Septal Defects in Standard Poodles
Canine atrial septal defect (ASD) is a relatively rare congenital heart malformation in which the heart has a hole between its upper chambers. Some breeds considered at increased risk for ASD include Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Samoyed and Newfoundland. 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–even death from heart failure. Surgery can repair the hole in dogs suffering ASD symptoms.
Bloat in Poodles
The normal stomach sits high in the abdomen and contains a small amount of gas, some mucus, and any food being digested. It undergoes a normal rhythm of contraction, receiving food from the esophagus above, grinding the food, and meting the ground food out to the small intestine at its other end. Normally this proceeds uneventfully except for the occasional burp.
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.
Neonatal Encephalopathy (NEwS)
Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures (NEwS) is a fatal disease of the brain in newborn 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.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) refers to a group of diseases affecting the retina at the back of the eye. These diseases cause the retinal cells to become increasingly abnormal over time. In most cases, the eventual outcome is blindness. Some form of PRA has been recognized in over 100 dog breeds, including Toy and Miniature Poodles.
PRA is inherited, meaning the disease genes that cause PRA are passed from generation to generation. In Toy and Miniature Poodles, one specific type of inherited PRA predominates, although at least one more type is present at a low frequency in the breed. This predominant form is the progressive rod-cone degeneration (prcd) form of PRA. Rod cells in the retina slowly lose function, with diminished vision in dim light and diminished field of vision. Subsequently, retinal cone cells lose function, resulting in diminished vision in daylight and eventual total blindness. The age of onset and the rate of disease progression are variable among different breeds, within the same breed and within the same litter. In general for Toys and Miniatures, diagnosis of prcd-PRA is made around 3 years of age, based on an eye exam by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Some prcd-PRA affected dogs retain some useful vision throughout life, while others progress to blindness in mid-life. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure for PRA.
A DNA test is available to detect the genetic mutation that causes prcd-PRA in dogs. The disorder is inherited as a “simple recessive,” meaning that affected dogs have two copies of the abnormal gene. The DNA test is used to identify Toy and Miniature Poodles as clear, carrier (one copy of the abnormal gene and one normal gene) or affected. Identification of breeding animals carrying or affected with prcd-PRA is essential to avoid producing affected offspring.
Not all retinal disease is PRA and not all PRA is the form currently detectable by DNA testing in our breed. Accurate diagnosis is essential. A dog can test as prcd-PRA normal or carrier, yet be affected by a different type of PRA. Yearly eye examinations should be done on breeding dogs by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
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. Because the age of onset varies and some affected dogs are “subclinical” with no outward signs of disease, SA is an especially challenging problem for breeders.
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD)
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. It is a complex and difficult disorder to deal with because genetics, diagnostic abnormalities, pathogenic mechanisms, and sometimes conflicting clinical signs are all involved. The commonality between all vWD is a reduction in the amount or function of von Willebrand factor (vWF), which is manifested through abnormal platelet function and prolonged bleeding time. Different breeds exhibit different variations of the disease; and some individual animals appear to “acquire” vWD. A DNA test is now available to determine whether Poodles carry an abnormal gene for the form of vWD found in this breed. Because two faulty genes are necessary to produce the disease (one from each parent), this test allows breeders to avoid breeding two carriers to each other.