As a Toy Poodle owner, you can consider yourself lucky. Your cuddly little breed is not only a generally healthy one, it has a life expectancy of as long as 18 years. Of course, like all purebred dogs, the Toy Poodle does have its share of inheritable health problems.
A brief look at some of the most common ailments facing your breed
Skin Tumors: These tumors are a result of abnormal cell growth on a dog's skin. They appear as lumps that don't go away, unless surgically removed. Skin tumors can be malignant—which spread to other areas of the body—or benign. A biopsy is the only way to determine what kind of tumor your dog has. If a lump is benign, your veterinarian will likely tell you to do nothing. But if malignant, a skin tumor must be treated aggressively. It's best to have any skin lumps checked by your veterinarian.
Bladder Stones: Just like humans, dogs can suffer from bladder stones—and they can be very uncomfortable for your Toy Poodle. Bladder stones occur when there are high concentrations of minerals in the urine. Bladder infections can also contribute to the onset of bladder stones. If your Toy Poodle is urinating more than usual, is unable to urinate, or has blood in his urine, contact your veterinarian immediately. These are all signs that your pet may be suffering from bladder stones or another urinary tract problem. Consult your vet about treatment for bladder stones in dogs.
Tracheal Collapse: This occurs as a result of a weakness in the cartilage rings of a dog's windpipe. If you notice your Toy Poodle wheezing, having trouble breathing, or coughing a lot, have your vet see him right away.
Cushing's Disease: This very serious condition occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol (a hormone produced by the body). A dog suffering from this problem will drink more, eat more, and urinate more than usual. You may also notice that your dog is losing his hair. Be on the watch for a swollen abdomen—it's an early warning sign of Cushing's Disease.
Cataracts: When a Toy Poodle suffers from cataracts, the lens of the eyeball begins to get cloudy. If your dog has cataracts, you may notice that the center of his eye is no longer clear, and has become white. You may also notice that your dog is having trouble seeing and is walking into the walls and furniture.
Watching for symptoms of these particular problems is your best defense. You can also talk to your veterinarian about preventive health measures that can help minimize illnesses that affect your favorite pooch.
Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.
The benefits of play
Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:
Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.
How to play with your dog
There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.
When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.
When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.
Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!