Labrador Retrievers can be subject to hip and elbow dysplasia. These are common problems in many breeds, especially larger dogs. Most good breeders will have their dogs tested for hip and elbow dysplasia when they are around two years old and then decide whether or not the dogs should be bred. By using health testing and making careful decisions, the incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia has been reduced. Here is a short guide to the most common Labrador Retriever health problems.
Labrador Retriever Health Problems
Luxating patellas (slipped kneecaps) also occur in Labradors. Again, this is something that can be tested and breeders can make careful choices when deciding which dogs to breed.
Labradors also suffer from several eye problems, in particular progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and retinal dysplasia. Dogs used for breeding need to be tested by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Labrador Retrievers can also suffer from hereditary myopathy. This is a rare disorder which is inherited. It causes a deficiency in type II muscle fiber. Dogs with this problem can have a short, stilted gait and may seem to “bunny hop” when they run.
Labs may also, occasionally, have problems with autoimmune disease and deafness, but these are not common. Exercise induced collapse may also occur occasionally.
Labrador Retriever Health Issues
Because of their long, floppy ears Labs can be prone to ear infections. Their long ears tend to trap warm, moist air inside the ear canal. This can occur in many breeds with long ears. Labs are particularly prone to ear infections if they spend a lot of time swimming so if your dog does go swimming you’ll need to take special care to dry his ears. Be sure to clean your Lab’s ears regularly.
Labs can also have problems with allergies, such as food allergies, although they aren’t known for having any more problems with allergies than other dogs.
Labrador Weight Problems
Labradors Retrievers typically have excellent appetites and they are known as “easy keepers.” This means that they rarely miss a meal and they seem to stay in good weight on modest amounts of food. You probably won’t ever have to coax your Lab to eat. In fact, you’ll probably have to limit your Lab’s food intake. It’s very easy for these dogs to become obese, particularly as they age. Be sure to measure their food portions. Free feeding is not recommended for Labs. You should also limit their snacks. Feed only healthy snacks if you do intend to feed snacks. Carrots, apple slices and popcorn make good low calorie snacks.
You should also make sure that your Lab gets plenty of exercise as he gets older. Some Labs will become less and less active as they age so you may have to encourage your dog to continue to exercise.
Overweight Labs are more prone to developing problems with hip dysplasia and arthritis. Diabetes can also be a problem for overweight dogs. Leaner dogs have been shown to live a longer life and to suffer from fewer health problems. Getting your dog on a raw diet can curb some of the weight related Labrador Retriever health problems. You can also follow my personal feeding guide using Purina SmartBlend formula, it is a very good commercial food to keep your dog lean and healthy.