Adopt a Poodle: Poodle Health Pointers

Our articles share concerns regarding issues that may concern our Poodles or are of general interest.  These views are not necessarily shared by NCPR and are not intended to replace the advice of your veterinarian.

Food Awareness

 

In this issue we share some of our concerns regarding several foods and ingredients. These views are not necessarily shared by NCPR and are not intended to replace the advice of your veterinarian.

1.  Ethoxyquin:  a toxic preservative in most dry dog food that accumulates in the liver.  Ethoxyquin is not allowed in human foods.  The following links provide detailed information about ethoxyquin:
http://www.dogaware.com/articles/newsethoxyquin.html and
http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/risk-ingredients-not-listed-on-pet-food-labels.html
2.  Any food which contains by-products.
3.  Dried pig, cow, or lamb ears:  Strong pesticides are used in livestock ear tags.
4.  Raw hide bones or hooves:  These are too dense and will cause cracks, chips, and excessive wear on a dogs teeth.
5.  Chicken or duck dried strips sourced from China:   The chicken strips with ingredients sourced from China are suspected in many instances of kidney disease in dogs.  The consumer has to read the fine print because some brands print made in USA on the front because the strips are assembled in the USA but with chicken imported from China.  See http://www.dogaware.com/recall.html#jerky

Addison's Disease

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Something’s wrong with your dog but you’re not sure what.  She seems listless, her eyes have lost their spark, and she just seems “off.”  You might notice intermittent muscle weakness, tremors, and an inability to jump into the car or onto a sofa.  Or your dog frequently ignores her dinner, vomits, or has diarrhea.  These vague symptoms, which may improve and then return, could stem from a dozen canine illnesses – or they might point to Addison’s.

 

Addison’s disease, named for the 19th century physician who defined this adrenal gland dysfunction, is also known as hypoadrenocorticism or adrenal insufficiency.  While fatal if left untreated, with appropriate treatment Addison’s can be managed so that affected patients lead normal, active lives.  Veterinarians who routinely test for Addison’s often find it, suggesting that the illness is not really rare but rather under-diagnosed and under-reported.

 

Dogs of any breed, either sex, and any age can develop Addison’s.  The median age of dogs diagnosed with Addison’s disease is 4 to 6 years, but it has been reported in puppies

and dogs as old as 12.  Addison’s, called “The Great Pretender,” is often misdiagnosed because it resembles so many other illnesses.  The most dramatic Addison’s symptom is the endocrine emergency called Addisonian crisis.  This occurs when the dog goes into shock due to circulatory collapse, and is suddenly close to death.

 

The ACTH (adrenocorticotropic  hormone) response (or stimulation) test is considered definitive for Addison’s.  The cortisol level of an initial blood sample is measured: then the dog is injected with a form of the pituitary hormone ACTH that signals the adrenals to produce cortisol.  One hour later, the blood cortisol level is measured again.  In healthy dogs, cortisol levels rise, indicating a normal adrenal response.  If the dog’s initial cortisol level is low and there is little or no response after ACTH stimulation, the diagnosis is Addison’s disease.  In Addisonian crisis, treatment with intravenous fluids, glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone, and sometimes glucose as well can literally save a dog’s life.  Once the patient’s condition has stabilized, treatment moves to the life-long replacement of adrenal hormones, along with careful monitoring of electrolyte levels for dogs with typical Addison’s.

 

Glucocorticoid hormones such as prednisone are needed for all Addisonian dogs.  For atypical and secondary Addison’s, this is the only drug prescribed.  Dogs with typical Addison’s also need mineralocorticoid supplementation.  Two options are available: fludrocortisone acetate (Florinef) and desoxycorticosterone pivalate (DOCP, commonly known by the brand name Percorten-V).

A big challenge after an Addison’s diagnosis is to find a veterinarian who is willing to fine-tune the dog’s medication.  When dogs are at their lowest effective dose, they feel the best but many vets don’t know how to treat this disease and dogs in their care are not as healthy as they could be.  Money-saving strategies include giving shots at home to avoid having to pay for an office visit for each injection and purchasing medications online at a discount with the help of veterinarians willing to write the necessary prescriptions.

 

All the experts agree that a properly treated dog can live a normal, happy, healthy life despite Addison’s disease.

Reference:  CJPuotinen and Mary Straus / Whole Dog Journal

Bloat Dangers in Standard Poodles

By Mary Klays, RVT, Manager,

VCA Albany Animal Hospital,
and NCPR Board Member

For those of us lucky enough to share our lives with standard poodles, we must be aware of a serious medical disorder that requires immediate medical attention. The disorder is known as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulous (GDV) in the veterinary world but is more commonly called bloat. Bloat occurs when gas fills the stomach, which can make the stomach twist itself and in turn shuts off the entrance to and exit from the stomach.

The cause of bloat is still not understood, although it seems to occur in older or middle-aged dogs with deep chests, including, but not limited to, standard poodles.  Puppies can also bloat.  Dogs under stress are more susceptible.

In the first stages of bloat, the dog seems uncomfortable, pants, and may turn to look at the stomach. As the stomach fills with gas, the dog may have unproductive vomiting and pace to get comfortable.  A distended stomach is another symptom but isn't always noticeable in the early stages. If the stomach twists over on itself, the circulatory system is compromised, and the poodle can go into shock and collapse as a result.

Veterinary care must be sought immediately for any dog showing possible signs of bloat. Treatment includes dealing with shock, relieving the pressure on the stomach, and performing major abdominal surgery to return the stomach to its normal position and to remove any dead or dying tissues. The stomach wall is then secured to the abdominal wall to prevent future twists. This procedure is called a gastropexy. The poodles recovery depends on the speed with which the condition is discovered and treated. Even in uncomplicated cases, the mortality rate is 15 to 20 percent.

The best way to protect your standard poodle is to have a veterinarian experienced with the procedure perform a prophylactic gastropexy. This is best done at the time of spay or neuter, but a re-homed adult standard should have this life-saving procedure after the dog has adjusted to his or her new home.

 

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