Skin Disorders in Poodles

Even the cleanest, well-groomed poodles can be prone to skin disorders.
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Poodles are active dogs with human-like intelligence. Originally bred to retrieve water birds, many remain great swimmers -- unsurprising for a breed likely named for the German word meaning "splash in the water!" However, just as their owners can suffer anything from dandruff to melanoma, poodles are prone to some skin disorders.


Poodles are prone to having skin allergies, many of which are contact allergies. Like people, poodles can be allergic to grass, ragweed and cleaning products. They also can be allergic to parasite bites and food. If your dog chews or licks her feet a lot, has red or hot skin, or if she spends a lot of time scratching herself, she may have skin allergies. Your vet can diagnose your dog’s allergies through skin or blood testing or by placing your dog on a prescription diet to rule out food allergies. Using hypoallergenic detergent to wash your dog’s bedding, changing her diet to exclude common allergens, such as corn and beef, and ensuring that she does not come into contact with plant allergens when she is outside can help keep your poodle’s allergies under control.

Demodectic Mange

All dogs house tiny demodex mites on their bodies (ew!). Demodex mites generally have no effect on their hosts. The mites that live on dogs rarely are transferred to people and cannot be transferred to cats. Demodectic mange can be localized, generalized or isolated to the dog’s paws. Localized demodectic mange involves no more than four spots on two areas of the body, while generalized demodectic mange can cause patchy fur and baldness all over your poodle’s body. Localized demodectic mange usually is not treated. Treating generalized demodectic mange and pododermatitis may involve medication, maintaining a stress and parasite-free environment, and providing a high-quality diet. Female dogs with generalized demodectic mange should be spayed so they can’t pass it on to their puppies.

Sebaceous Adenitis

Poodles are among 30 breeds affected by a disease called “sebaceous adenitis” (SA). SA is an inherited allergy that affects the lubrication of the skin and hair follicles. Standard poodles are the most affected of all three poodle varieties, but SA has been found in toy and miniature poodles as well. SA often is “subclinical” in poodles, which means that the disease is present inside the dog but is not visible on the skin. A skin punch test or biopsy usually is done to diagnose SA. This disease often is mistaken for hypothyroidism. Symptoms of SA include scaly, flaky, or peeling skin; hair loss; and some odors and sores. Poodles with SA are treated using prednisone, tetracycline and mineral oil soaks. In addition, they can be bathed with a medicated shampoo up to three times a week.

Cushings Disease

According to the Poodle Club of America website, Cushing's disease is one of several health disorders affecting the poodle. Cushing's has three forms: pituitary dependent, non-pituitary (adrenal) and cortisone-related. All three forms of Cushing's disease are characterized by excessive thirst and appetite, thinning skin and hair, change in the texture of the hair, and hair loss.

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.

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