The term “poodle” refers to a number of breeds of various sizes, from toy to miniature to large (standard),that are characterized bythick, fluffy fur and pointy snouts. Originally bred as hunting dogs in Germany, their name comes from a word meaning “splash,” owing to their willingness to retrieve game from the water. These dogs are active, clever and highly interactive with people, though it can take them awhile to warm up to strangers. They train very well and are often the stars at obedience training classes. Poodles tend to get along with children and other pets, though the smaller varieties can be prone to biting.
Should you purchase insurance for your poodle?
Poodles are for the most part healthy dogs, with the toy and miniature varieties living around 15 years and the larger, standard variety a few years less. The varieties vary somewhat in their susceptibilities to various canine illnesses, but all are at risk for the following:
- Addison’s disease: this condition results when the adrenal gland produces too little adrenaline; affected dogs are lethargic and suffer gastrointestinal problems. Blood analysis is required to diagnose the disease, which can be difficult to distinguish from other ailments. Treatment involves lifetime administration of drugs that compensate for the defective gland.
- Bloat (gastric dilation volvulus, stomach torsion): the stomachs of these dogs may become distended and actually twist within their bodies as a consequence of excess intestinal gas; symptoms include a bloated abdomen, drooling and unproductive vomiting. Without immediate treatment, usually surgery, a dog stands a good chance of dying.
- Hip dysplasia: these dogs may inherit a condition where the hipbone fails to fit correctly into the pelvis. Over time, wear and tear can cause these joints to become inflamed, resulting in pain and restricted movement. The condition can often be reversed with surgery. Owners are urged to ask breeders for confirmation that the hips of the parents are not affected, though this does not guarantee that puppies will not develop dysplasia.
- Hypothyroidism: this condition occurs when a dog’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland, resulting in a lack of the necessary hormones that the thyroid produces. Symptoms include hair loss, skin problems, weight gain and lethargy. Blood analysis is used to confirm the presence of the disease; treatment involves daily administration of an artificial hormone to replace what the thyroid no longer produces.
- Tracheal collapse: this condition presents with a “honking” cough, and occurs when the rings of cartilage that make up the windpipe become weakened and collapse. Diagnosis is confirmed by fluoroscopy and radiography; treatment involves administration of steroids to combat inflammation, and surgery may be required to reconstruct the trachea.
It’s hard to realize when you take home that frisky puppy, but your poodle is likely to face one or more of these or similar illnesses in the course of its life. Treatment such as surgery or lifelong drug therapy can run to hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, and it is often impossible to know when a medical issue will arise. The right pet health insurance plan can help to ensure that your poodle will receive the best care possible from puppy to old age.