Poodles were once destined to be aquatic retrievers for hunters in central Europe, but they are now mostly bred for aesthetics as companion and show dogs. Their sleek, malleable fur is a main attraction of the breed, although they frequently suffer from skin problems that can mar their beautiful coat.
Poodles with Cushing's suffer from sensitive skin, hair loss and chronic irritation, even though the disease is actually a dysfunction in their endocrine system. It also weakens your dog's immune system, increasing the likelihood of skin infections. Cortisol therapy, genetic defects and tumors can interfere with your poodle's adrenal glands, causing them to produce an insufficient amount of hormones to regulate their body's metabolic functions. Surgery and hormone therapy can mitigate the symptoms of Cushing's in some dogs.
Hereditary traits, physical trauma and other issues can trigger hypothyroidism in poodles. Your dog's thyroid releases essential hormones into his blood stream that manage his metabolism. Hypothyroidism can make your dog's coat a rougher texture than normal, which is easy to notice on the silky-haired poodle, and it may also cause hair loss and itchiness. If your vet suspects that your dog has hypothyroidism, he will send in blood samples for laboratory testing to confirm his suspicion. Your vet may prescribe a daily hormone therapy program to manage chronic symptoms.
Sebaceous adentitis is an inflammation of the oil-producing sebaceous glands on your dog's skin. This is a big problem for standard poodles, although it has also been reported in toy variants as well, according to the Poodle Club of America. Dry flakes of skin, itchiness and inflammation are common in dogs with this problem. Unsightly hair loss is also likely, as are open sores and a foul odor from your dog's skin. There is no permanent cure, but you can ask your vet to recommend dog-safe moisturizers, special shampoo and oils to treat symptoms.
Allergies are a common health issue among dogs regardless of breed. External allergens like pollen and dust irritate and inflame your dog's skin. If the skin problems are accompanied by vomiting, anorexia or other digestive symptoms, then your dog may actually have a food allergy. If your vet suspects allergies, he will place the dog on an allergen-free diet for several months, after which you can introduce different foods one by one. Keep your house clean, restrict your dog's access to the outdoors and brush his coat several times a week to ease skin allergy symptoms.
Poodles also suffer from infestations of parasites, including fleas, ticks and mites. An allergy to flea saliva can make your dog even more miserable as he is bitten. Various preventative ointments are available in monthly doses. You can also use a flea comb and magnifying glass to manually remove parasites if the infestation is light. Ask your vet about flea shampoos and collars if the infestation gets out of hand. General skin problems may also be the result of a fungal or bacterial infection, which may require prescription medication to treat.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.