The standard poodle, along with other varieties of poodle, is one of the longest-lived dog breeds. In fact, a healthy standard poodle can live up to 12-15 years, but despite that fact, poodles are still subject to many health problems that can affect their quality of life. One of the common health problems that can be seen in the Standard Poodle is Von Willebrand’s disease.
Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs and other animals (including humans). 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 ability to clot. 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 as to slow down blood loss (activation of platelets, clotting process). Lack of this von Willebrand factor causes abnormal platelet function and long bleeding times. Therefore, a standard poodle with VWD is prone to bleeding problems such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums especially during teething, and prolonged bleeding from even small wounds. Bleeding can also occur in the joints and in the stomach or intestine, in which case the stool or urine may contain blood. Increased bleeding can lead to anemia, trauma, and death if left untreated.
An affected dog may have no symptoms or unnoticeable bleeding episodes, which is why the disease is often diagnosed when the dog reaches three to five years of age. Diagnosis of the disease is made by specialized tests: genetic testing and von Willebrand factor measurement. Once the correct diagnosis has been made, your vet will prescribe a treatment to control the bleeding. Although you can control bleeding with prolonged pressure, cauterization or sutures may be required in some circumstances. In cases of severe bleeding, a transfusion of blood drawn from healthy dogs is given. Thyroid supplements can also be used to control bleeding once the dog is found to have hypothyroidism. A drug called desmopressin acetate (DDAVP), given intranasally, can also be used to help dogs with a bleeding episode.
Despite advances in technology and medicine, there is no known drug that will cure the disease and increase the level of vWF. However, this can be prevented by selective breeding. Affected dogs should not be included in any breeding program to eliminate the spread of the disease.