Much like a high school freshman, your poodle has sensitive skin that is prone to problems. Underneath her curly coat, your poodle can suffer from dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin that has many causes and can be tough to cure. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist for advice.
Causes and Symptoms
Itch. Scratch. Itch. Scratch. Skin inflammation is painful and irritating to your dog -- painful for you to watch -- and it's often a frustrating puzzle to solve. Dermatitis can be caused by everything from fleas and food allergies to ringworm, a contagious fungal infection that humans can catch. Yuck. Be on the lookout for excessive itching, scratching, rubbing and chewing. If your poodle's fur is dropping off in patches or her skin looks red and raw in places, visit your vet to help find the cause.
Young standard poodles are particularly prone to sebaceous adenitis, although this nasty skin disorder is found among all varieties of poodle. If your poodle has inherited this autoimmune disease, her sebaceous glands can become inflamed and might no longer lubricate the hair follicles and skin efficiently. Scaly, flaky skin and hair loss are the unsightly result. Sebaceous adenitis can look a lot like allergies, ringworm or mange and can be hard to diagnose. A skin biopsy might be the only path to an accurate diagnosis, according to the Poodle Club of America. Oil baths can offer some relief, but there is currently no cure for sebaceous adenitis.
If your poodle is allergic to something in her world, her skin often shows it. Grass, trees, dust mites and chemical cleaning products are just a few of the many environmental allergens that can trigger atopic dermatitis, a common canine skin condition. The first step toward relief is to remove your pooch from the allergy source -- which will require the intervention of your vet if the source doesn't become obvious pretty quick. Since some allergies are seasonal, your pup may feel better once the seasons switch, but you'll help her by wiping her fur and paws when she comes inside to help get rid of allergens. Fish oils and other fatty acid supplements can help in mild cases of atopic dermatitis, but prescription antihistamines and steroids may be necessary. Poodles with atopic dermatitis have an immunological imbalance that may respond to the drug cyclosporine, according to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. Your vet can advise you regarding the expense, effectiveness and side effects of any medication.
You will know the skin disease Malassezia dermatitis by your nose: It is not only itchy, but smelly. Poodles in hot, humid climates are particularly susceptible to this disease, which is caused by overactive yeast production. If your pup is affected, you'll see reddened skin with yellowish green scales around the feet, groin, lips and muzzle, accompanied by an unpleasant odor. In more serious cases, your poodle will suffer hair loss and may contract an ear infection. Your vet can take a skin scraping from your pup to accurately diagnose this disease. Weekly baths with medicated shampoos usually keep this stinky skin problem in check.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.