Common health problems with Toy Poodles

23 May 2024 - 4 min read
A white Poodle with curly fur, raising its paw and looking directly at the camera with its mouth open in a playful expression against a light beige background.

Small, sleek and full of pomp, Toy Poodles have captivated hearts worldwide. While small, they have big personalities, and outside of their distinct looks, they're known for being lively, intelligent personalities.

But like any pedigree, they're prone to certain health issues.

We list the most common Toy Poodle health issues, how they're diagnosed and the treatment options below.

Most common Toy Poodle health problems

Toy poodle

Tracheal collapse

This condition happens when the cartilage rings around the windpipe (trachea) weaken and flatten. The condition is characterised by a distinct ‘goose honking’ cough. The condition means breathed-in air passes through a smaller space, causing a dry, harsh cough. 

Excitement can trigger a cough and it worsens when a dog breathes in irritants like cigarette smoke. Diagnosis by a vet relies on physical examination findings and X-ray images. These help to visualise the flattening of the trachea. 

When properly managed, most dogs will go on to lead normal lives.

Legg-Perthes

An inherited disease in which the blood supply to one of the hip joints is inadequate, leading to the degeneration of the ‘ball’ part of the joint. 

Symptoms usually develop at around six months of age, in which dogs become painful, lame and reluctant to use the affected leg. If your vet is suspicious of Legg-Perthes, they may want to perform an x-ray to look for a flattened ‘ball’ socket and arthritic changes in the joint. 

Surgical removal of the damaged bone, followed by physiotherapy to promote joint flexibility and function, is one of the most successful treatment approaches.

Patellar luxation

This condition affects the knee joint. It happens when the kneecap (known as the patella) doesn't align with the bones around it. This misalignment causes it to pop out of the groove it normally rests in. 

When this happens during movement, dogs may hop or skip for a few steps before returning to normal. Over time, the joint may also become stiff and painful. Arthritis is a risk. 

Dogs with severe symptoms may require surgery to help keep the patella from sliding out of place. But many dogs will significantly improve through a combination of: 

Dental disease

This starts when plaque builds up on tooth surfaces over time and hardens. Bacteria find it easier to stick to this and multiply, which leads to infection, inflammation and gum recession. Eventually, the ligaments that secure each tooth within its socket weaken and break, causing the affected tooth to become wobbly and fall out. 

Dental disease commonly causes bad breath, and dogs may seem in pain or slower when eating food, especially if it's dry. 

A vet will probably need to operate to extract the diseased teeth and remove the tartar with an electronic descaling tool.

Mitral valve disease (MVD)

From about middle age onwards, one of the heart valves begins to degenerate, allowing blood to flow back into the wrong heart chamber. 

The volume of blood inside the heart rises, causing the organ to expand. 

This can compress the windpipe and trigger episodes of coughing. As the disease progresses, symptoms of heart failure start to develop. These include exercise intolerance, lethargy and a faster breathing rate. 

How to care for a Toy Poodle

Toy poodle

Genetic testing and picking responsible breeders

Genetic testing and picking responsible breeders are essential.

Some conditions, like Legg-Perthes, are genetically passed down. This means dogs diagnosed with genetic diseases shouldn't be used for breeding. 

The same is also true for conditions like tracheal collapse and MVD, where experts believe both conditions have an inherited component. 

That's why choosing a responsible breeder is essential.

Using a harness 

Many steps can be taken at home to help manage tracheal collapse. Using a harness instead of a lead on walks can prevent unnecessary pressure from being placed on the neck. 

There's a lot that goes into choosing a lead or harness though, so read our guide if you need help.

Exercise and weight management 

It's important to make sure your dog is a healthy weight, no matter what breed it is. Pet obesity is a problem, but thankfully, there are steps you can take.

For Toy Poodles, it's very important to manage their weight. Excess fat tissue stores around the airways, meaning it can add pressure to the windpipe, worsening symptoms.

All dogs with patella luxation will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and having an optimised exercise routine. But don't exercise dogs suffering from patella luxation too harshly.

Short, frequent walks are excellent for building muscular strength around the knee joint, but vigorous activity or excessive exercise can have the opposite effect, hastening the progression of arthritis

Regular grooming and dental care 

Dental disease is perhaps the most easily preventable condition of those listed above. Feeding dry dog food and providing access to bones are certainly helpful, but the best way to prevent plaque from accumulating is by removing it directly, through regular teeth brushing

This takes less than two minutes to do, and if you can incorporate it into your dog’s routine, then it's often very easy to continue doing. 

You should do this alongside a regular grooming routine, which will keep your Toy Poodle's coat healthy and sharp.

Having a good relationship with your vet 

Whilst it's not possible to stop a dog from developing heart diseases like MVD, early identification of the disease makes treatment more successful.

There are drugs to support heart muscle contractions during the earlier stages of the disease, and if you know that your dog has MVD, then it becomes much easier to spot the signs of heart failure sooner. 

This in turn allows treatment to begin earlier, which helps to slow down disease progression and improve the quality of your dog’s life.

Having a good relationship with your vet is core to this, and it's why preventative care is essential.

How dog insurance can help

Toy Poodle insurance can help you prepare for unforeseen health issues. Our dog insurance helps with up to £15,000 vet fee cover and a host of perks.

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