Labrador Retriever Health Issues
All dog breeds tend to have health risk tendencies that are simply good to be aware of before bringing a puppy home. The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the world because of how loving, gentle, and playful they can be, and they are an excellent family dog.
Be that as it may, it’s also good to be aware that Labrador Retrievers are at a higher risk for certain health problems. Let’s explore the potential common health issues that occur in Labrador Retrievers.
Health Issues That Stem from Obesity
The Lab is known for his love for food, and you better believe his nose will sniff out a ham-bone from a mile away. Unfortunately, many owners choose to view this trait as an endearing “it is what it is” issue, and obesity is often the result. But obesity isn’t just unattractive in a Lab, it’s downright dangerous.
Diabetes is a disease that commonly follows an official diagnosis of “obesity”, and in addition to this can potentially shorten the lifespan of your dog.
Arthritis is common in older Labs, but keeping your dog away from the “obese” range in weight will prevent Arthritis from occurring earlier than it might otherwise.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
This disease presents in its most extreme form as a complete inability to walk and the affected dog living much of his life in pain. Hip and elbow dysplasia is a scary thing for Lab owners to encounter, as it’s rather unpredictable and there’s often nothing that can be done about it. Every dog is different, so owners must know their own dogs and be aware of any change that occurs. If your Lab is still or sore after exercise, or if he’s more reluctant than usual to sprint through the yard, keep a close eye on him and speak with your vet soon – though there’s no cure for hip and elbow dysplasia, treatment can greatly reduce pain and discomfort.
Hereditary Myopathy is a rare disease for Labs, but it does occur when a Lab inherits this disease which causes muscle weakness because of a lack of a certain type of muscle fibre. The first sign of Hereditary Myopathy is usually a stiff or awkward gait, and it progresses to a more generalized form of weakness. It usually occurs in puppies, and is at its worst by 5 months old.
You might have noticed fatty tumors are not uncommon on the bodies of elderly Labs. Fortunately, these are, more often than not, harmless benign tumors; however, every once in a while, one comes back as cancer. Osteosarcoma (cancer in the bones) and Pancreatic cancer are the most common types of cancer in Labs. In the case of cancer, it’s important to keep in mind that there are now treatments for the disease; always talk to your vet if you suspect cancer on your Lab – the earlier you catch it, the better his prognosis.
Skin problems are not abnormal with Labrador Retrievers, and those include Acral Lick Dermatitis (where repetitive licking causes a raised skin nodule), Acute Moist Dermatitis (trauma caused by licking or scratching in response to an allergy or irritation), Atopy (an allergy due to an inhalant), Folliculitis (inflammatory reaction in the hair follicles), Lipoma (benign skin tumors), Seborrhea (increased skin scaling), and Otitis Externa (swimmer’s ear or inflammation of the external outer ear).
Bloat is a common condition in Labradors, in part because of their larger chest cavities. This condition occurs when the stomach becomes twisted, trapping undigested food and gasses. Without immediate intervention, this usually leads to swelling of the abdomen, which causes serious pain and death, which can occur within hours of onset.
A Generally Healthy Dog
Generally speaking, we’re thrilled to say that the Lab does exist as a generally healthy breed with minimal breed-specific issues. Labs were never common as show dogs, nor were they ever worked to the point of physical distress and so they’ve been spared the extreme conditions that some breeds have been exposed to.
What You Can Do
If you’ve learned anything by now, it’s that a large portion of health issues for Labs can be avoided with proper breeding practices and screening of breeding stock.
Do your part in ensuring the health of your Lab by finding a breeder who practices responsibly and who diligently tests for both known and unknown genetic diseases.
Regular check up’s at the vet are imperative to ensuring your Lab maintains good health, so find one that you trust and who knows Labrador Retrievers as a breed quite well. Make it a point to discuss with your vet the proper vaccines for your Lab, and ensure that those are taken care of at the appropriate time before ever exposing your puppy to other animals. Also consult with your vet on whether or not your Lab needs Heartworm, Flea and Tick medication, and stick to the schedule he or she proposes for that as closely as you can.
In addition to finding a reputable breeder and a vet that you love, you should ensure that you keep a tight rein on your dog’s diet throughout the duration of his life. Diseases that stem from obesity are completely avoidable if owners would simply take the time and attention necessary to implement a consistently healthy diet, and to prevent feasting on unauthorized foods by way of counter-surfing and begging. It takes an actively involved owner to keep his Lab’s weight within a healthy range… it certainly won’t happen without monitoring and intentional feedings. In addition to monitoring his feedings, you should ensure that he gets the proper amount of exercise regularly, and isn’t spending too much time laying around on his own.