The Standard Poodle, along with other Poodle varieties, is one of the long-lived breeds of dog. A healthy Standard Poodle can in fact live for up to 12 to 15 years, but, despite that fact, Poodles are still subject to many health issues that can affect their quality of life. One of the common health issues that can be seen on Standard Poodle is Von Willebrand’s disease.
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is a common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs and other animals (humans as well). Both male and female dogs can suffer from this condition. Discovered by a Finnish doctor named, von Willebrand, the disease is associated with a missing factor in the blood’s clotting ability. This missing factor is called von Willebrand factor (vWF), a protein that helps improve clot formation.
Normally, when the blood vessel is damaged, the body responds in such a way to slow blood loss (activation of platelets, coagulation process). Lack of this von Willebrand factor leads to abnormal platelet function and prolonged bleeding times. Thus a Standard Poodle with vWD are prone to bleeding problems such as nose bleeds, bleeding from the gums especially during teething and prolonged bleeding even from small wounds. Bleeding can also happen in the joints and in the stomach or intestine in which case the stool or urine may have blood in it. Increased bleeding can lead to anemia, trauma and death if untreated.
An affected dog may either have no symptoms or unnoticeable bleeding episodes, that is why the disease is often diagnosed when the dog reaches three to five years old. Diagnosis of the disease is made through specialized tests – genetic test and von Willebrand factor measurement. After the correct diagnosis has been made, your vet will prescribe treatment to control the bleeding. Though you can be able to control the bleeding by applying prolonged pressure, cautery or sutures maybe required in some circumstances. In the cases of severe bleeding, transfusion of blood collected from healthy dogs is administered. Thyroid supplements may also be used to control bleeding once found out that the dog is hypothyroid. A drug called desmopressin acetate (DDAVP), administered intranasally may also be used to help dogs with a bleeding episode.
Despite the breakthrough in technology and medicine, there is no medication known to cure the disease and increase the level of vWF. However, this can be prevented through selective breeding. Affected dogs should not be included in any breeding program in order to eliminate the spread of the disease.