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Stress and Canine Health

Like many breeds, standard poodles, as a breed, have some serious immune-related diseases. They include Sebaceous Adenitis, Addison 's, Cushings, Hypothyroidism, Epilepsy, Auto-Immune Hemolytic Anemia, etc. Excessive stress can overtax the animal's immune system and this can lay the groundwork for a compromised immune system.

It is important to realize as you raise your new puppy, that enabling your pet to withstand some stress is one of the best gifts you can bestow upon your canine companion.

For example , you and your family rarely travel, necessitating the need to kennel your dog in a boarding kennel, so your pet has only lived and spent time in his home environment with you. Let's say, you have a family reunion in a distant place and decide to stay a few extra weeks, and this means boarding your poodle for 3 or 4 weeks. Your poodle is 3 years old and has never set foot in a professional boarding kennel. The smell of the many strange dogs , the sounds, the hard floors, the cement runs, are all new environmental changes. For many pets, this can be extremely stressful to handle all of these new and unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells, especially all at once. When stress levels are exceedingly high, this puts an extra burden on the animal's immune system, and can precipitate the onset of some type of illness, just as we humans are susceptible to illnesses when we are exposed to undue stress.

In standard poodles , this high stress level could trigger the onset of one of the auto-immune disease if the animal has the genetic makeup to develop the disease. The predisposition to the disease has to be within the dog's physiology to begin with, but the onset of symptoms can be triggered by extremely high stress levels.

I recommend that you give your standard poodle as much socializing as possible. Get him comfortable with sleeping a crate, in case he ever is required to fly on an airplane or spend a few nights at the vet's. Give him short trips to a boarding kennel of your choice when he is 6 months old initially, to give him an opportunity to learn that he is safe and that you will come back. Do this now and then for a night or two on a regular basis, so he becomes comfortable being cared for in a very different environment that his home and by different humans than his human pack (you). Take your poodle with you when you do day trips and errands, get him comfortable with riding in a vehicle and going new places.

For all of the auto-immune diseases listed above, there are no tests to determine which poodles are carriers. We can assume these diseases are genetically passed on through the family members, but whether or not they are poly-genetic or a simple recessive has yet to be determined by veterinary medicine. As breeders, we screen our breeding stock carefully and do all of the health tests that are available and its still not enough. Standard poodles continue to be affected by these diseases and its very difficult to track the mode of inheritance to avoid manifesting these diseases.

For this reason , I urge all owners of standard poodles, regardless of the family of standard poodles from which your poodle comes from, to expose your young poodle to small stresses, and gradually build up to larger stresses. This helps to socialize your poodle to have the capacity to handle new situations and unfamiliar surroundings, thereby minimizing stress on your pet.