This post should be referred to for educational purposes only. I would always advise that you consult your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s health or concerns you may have.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, yes organ! It has three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation. Unfortunately, in our furry friends, skin problems are the most common medical conditions treated in veterinary clinics.
A skin condition will not only be uncomfortable for your dog, but it may also indicate an underlying health condition. Therefore, it is vitally important that you maintain regular visits to your veterinary clinic.
Table of Contents
Do Poodles have Skin Problems?
There are many reasons that skin conditions can develop in your Poodle:
According to a 2018 Banfield State of the Pet Health report, dogs that have allergies are 6x more likely to develop skin infections.
A skin allergy is an allergic reaction that is triggered by an allergen that the dog is exposed to and ultimately sensitive to. The three most common skin allergies are:
Flea Allergic Dermatitis
When a flea bites a dog, it injects its saliva into the dog’s skin. In some dogs, this can cause an intense, prolonged reaction. Pay particular attention to your dog’s rump, tail, groin, and hind limbs.
It is therefore important to keep up to date with flea treatment. There are many flea treatments available, from spot-on solutions to tablets. I would always recommend you use a veterinary-approved product. All pets must be treated at the same time.
Fun Fact: 95% of fleas live in the environment and only 5% on the animal. Therefore, treating the house using an environmental product is just as recommended as treating the animals. Fleas rarely jump from dog to dog. Instead, they jump from the environment such as carpets and bedding onto our dog and sometimes us!
This type of allergy tends to affect very young dogs or older dogs suffering from a skin complaint for the first time. It is due to a reaction to a particular ingredient in the dog’s diet, commonly associated with protein sources such as beef, eggs, chicken, and dairy. As well as skin irritation, it can cause flatulence and digestive upset.
This allergy occurs when an animal inhales or ingests an environmental allergen such as pollen dust mites, or mold. It tends to be seasonal, with dogs being affected more during spring and summertime. The face, ears, armpits, forelimbs, and paws are mostly affected.
This is the most common type of skin infection and it may be secondary to an underlying problem such as skin allergies, hormonal disorders, or other internal diseases. It is therefore important that the underlying problem is diagnosed and treated to help control the bacterial infection.
Areas where the skin overlaps are commonly infected, including the facial folds, armpits, groin, and between the toes. To help prevent allergens from being brought into the house, some veterinarians advise wiping the dog’s feet with a damp towel after walks.
Ringworm, although misleading, is not a worm but a fungus and is similar to Athlete’s Foot. The lesion it leaves on human skin is similar to that of a worm in the shape of a ring. In dogs, the lesion is often a circular red crusty bald patch however it can take on several different appearances.
It is most commonly found on the head, ears legs, and paws. It is highly contagious to other animals and even people!
A skin disease caused by the following mites that live on the dog’s skin and hair.
Demodex mites are present in most dogs and live in the hair follicle or associated sebaceous glands. They are passed from mother to puppy a few days after birth via the muzzle. They are not contagious between dogs or humans. Try not to freak out but we have Demodex mites in our eyelashes!
Sarcoptes scabiei is a superficial burrowing mite and is responsible for one of the oldest known skin diseases. The pinnae and face are affected first then it progresses to the elbows and abdomen. It is highly contagious and even transmittable to humans.
There are veterinary-approved ectoparasiticides treatments available to help provide effective protection against both mites.
Many skin conditions can have similar signs. Keep a close eye out for:
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Skin sores
- Flaky skin
- Texture change
- Unusual odor
Behavior changes such as:
- Excessive licking/biting or chewing
- Excessive rubbing
- Irritated behavior
This can be tricky to narrow down due to many of the conditions having similar clinical signs.
Your veterinarian will take a thorough history and may ask you the following questions:
- Any dietary change?
- Any new household products – detergents?
- When do signs flare up?
- At a particular time of day – close to feeding time?
- At a particular time of the year?
- Any new walks – patches of long grass?
Depending on the answers, it can sometimes indicate an underlying allergy.
An overall examination may include carrying out tests such as:
- Skin scrapes
- Hair plucks
- Tape impressions
These will be examined under a microscope either in-house or sent to an external laboratory.
Treatment will depend on the patient’s history, clinical signs, and if a diagnosis has been confirmed. In cases when a cure is not possible, ongoing management will be required and this includes regular check-ups. Long-term therapy may be a combination of topical and oral treatments.
Oral medications can range from anti-inflammatories, antibiotics to antifungals and antihistamines.
Topical treatments (applied directly to the skin) can come in various preparations such as creams, shampoos, and sprays and contain antimicrobials.
Supplements can sometimes be used in conjunction with the other treatments. Speak to your veterinarian and see if they recommend any products you could trail.
Are Poodles Prone to Skin Problems and Other Allergies?
Although uncommon, Standard Poodles are amongst certain breeds more susceptible to developing skin problems. One such condition called Sebaceous Adenitis can leave the coat in poor condition and even cause hair loss. They are also more at risk of ear infections and tear staining.
A sebaceous gland is a small gland located in the skin and opens into a hair follicle. It is responsible for sebum (oil) secretion which helps lubricate the skin and fur. For some unknown reason, the sebaceous glands are destroyed.
Signs to Look out For
A reduction in sebum secretion may cause the dog’s coat to appear dull and in poor condition. Lesions are typically found on the face, pinnae, and tail. Some areas may have marked alopecia.
Unfortunately, this condition generally requires life-long treatment. This can be a mixture of topical and oral preparations. Dietary supplementation may be recommended to include omega-3, omega-6, or vitamin A.
Dog breeds that have long, floppy ears and/or hairy ear canals can be more at risk of developing ear problems. This is a classic characterization of Poodles.
Keep an eye out for the following signs:
- Redness of the ear
- Discharge from the ear
- Odor around or in the ear
Behaviour change such as:
- Excessive ear scratching
- Excessive head shaking
- Ear touching invokes a pain response
Because dogs have such sensitive ears, applying anything down there without a veterinarian first checking the ear canal may cause serious damage. Regular cleaning can help prevent infections but only use veterinary approved products and after the veterinarian has given the all-clear.
Why Does my Poodle have Tear Stains?
Like in humans, tears help to lubricate the eye and wash away debris from the eye’s surface (cornea). Tears also play an important role in providing oxygen and nutrients to the corneal surface.
One of the causes of tear staining is the underdevelopment of the tear duct opening. As a result, excess tears spilling over the lids and onto the dog’s face. A pigment found in tears called porphyrin causes those red-brown stains. The tear duct is responsible for draining tears away from the eye. This can be a common congenital problem in poodles.
It is also a common problem in:
- Shortnose breeds with prominent eyes
- Breeds that have an accumulation of hair around their eyes
Although this tends to be more of a cosmetic problem than a medical one in those breeds, a trip to the veterinary clinic for a check-up is always a good idea. The veterinarian will examine the eye to rule out an underlying cause for example infection.
Try to keep the fur around your dog’s eyes as short as possible to prevent ocular irritation. Regularly wipe the area using water warm and a cotton pad.
Do Poodles Have Allergies?
Poodles are considered one of the breeds predisposed to suffering from allergies.
Do Doodles Have Allergies?
There have long been debates over the health of purebred and mixed-breed dogs. One of the questions being, do mixed-breed dogs inherit genetic disorders? There is no simple way of predicting which dogs will become severely affected. For more information, I recommend you ask your veterinarian.
Testing for Allergies in Poodles
Allergy testing can often identify the cause of your pet’s reaction to help avoid particular allergens. Testing can be done in several ways:
This quick and non-invasive test requires a simple blood sample to be taken and then sent for analysis.
Intradermal Skin Testing
This invasive procedure is considered gold standard. The dog is sedated to prevent discomfort and a rectangular patch of fur is shaved. Next, small needles are injected in a specific pattern just under the skin. These injections contain a small number of different allergens.
If a positive reaction is to occur at the site of injection, it will do so after 20 minutes and the area will appear red or swollen.
This strict lengthy process can be split into 4 phases:
- Eliminate – feed an appropriate elimination diet for 12 weeks
- Challenge – reintroduce normal food and lookout for signs of a flare-up
- Confirm – restart the strict elimination diet
- Identify – avoid any ingredients that cause a flare-up
How Dangerous are Allergies in Poodles?
Skin conditions are not life-threatening however they can be uncomfortable. Untreated skin problems may lead to secondary problems or be the cause of an underlying problem. So always best to have new developments checked. Owners must understand that their dogs’ allergies will never be cured.
It can be tricky for veterinarians to pinpoint the exact cause of skin disease due to the similarity of clinical signs presented with various skin conditions. Therefore, owners need to know that it may take time to get a clear diagnosis. A plan will be formulated by your veterinarian to help keep your dog comfortable.