Elbow and Hip dysplasia are common Labrador health problems prevalent among the breed. Although all dogs suffer from similar health issues, diseases like heart disease and ear infections are prevalent with Labs.
According to American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the country. This breed originated in Newfoundland and was officially acknowledged by the AKC in 1917.
Labradors are medium- to large-sized sporting dogs and typically weigh between 55 and 80 pounds, with females falling closer to the lower end of this range. Additionally, their average height is between 21 and 25 inches. They are muscular and have a giant skull, nose, strong tail, and deep chest.
Veterinarians assert that Labrador Retrievers are more susceptible to ear infections, obesity, stiffness, and arthritis than other breeds.
Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) compared Labradors to Cocker Spaniels, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Shih-Tzus while analysing health statistics on the breed. The most popular dog in the UK might be a wonderful family pet, but tragically, they are more likely to experience 12 out of 35 issues.
The team examined the health of a random sample of 1,462 Labrador Retrievers with 20,786 non-Labrador Retrievers and found lameness, kennel cough, lipoma, and a fat tumour frequently observed in middle-aged to older animals are additional health problems.
Although labradors belong to the working group, Labradors are very loyal, playful, and have gentle natures.
Table of Contents
Common Labrador Retrievers Health Problems
Some other prevalent health issues that Labrador Retriever owners should be aware of are:
- Bloat and Obesity
- Ear Infections
- Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Hip Dysplasia
- Centronuclear Myopathy
- Heart Disease
- Nutritional Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Exercise-Induced Collapse
Bloat and Obesity
For many dogs, including Labs, obesity is a common issue. Fortunately, it is pretty simple to avoid; keep an eye on your dog’s eating patterns and make sure he doesn’t overeat or eat too quickly when it’s time for meals or a snack.
You might need to ration his food to prevent your dog from overheating.
However, bloat in humans often refers to extra water weight in people, which is typically a harmless condition. However, “bloat” in animals is a dangerous medical condition that could be lethal in Labs.
It describes a twisted or bloated stomach that has caused a distended abdomen.
Although the cause of bloat is uncertain, experts concur that you shouldn’t allow your dog to overeat or drink excessive amounts of water to reduce the likelihood of the disease.
Due to these factors, Labrador Retrievers are more likely to have ear infections:
They have droopy ears that can collect moisture and wax and cause infection and inflammation in the ear canal.
Most Labrador Retrievers enjoy being in the water and swimming, but water in their ears from swimming or bathing can cause an ear infection.
An ear infection may show these symptoms:
- A red ear canal
- debris in the ear canal that is either brown or yellow
- Head shaking
- Head incline
- Rubbing ears on carpet/furniture
- Odour in ears
- Pawing at ears
Clean Labrador Retrievers’ ears with an ear cleaner that includes a drying agent to reduce the incidence of ear infections. Do this after swimming or bathing every two to three weeks for maintenance.
Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia Is One Of The Common Labrador Health Problems
The tricuspid valve pumps blood from the atrium into the ventricle on the right side of the heart. Also, Tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD) in Labrador Retrievers results in a dysfunctional valve that lets blood seep backwards into the right atrium.
The right atrium and right ventricle grow over time. A regular medical examination may or may not reveal a cardiac murmur in Labrador Retrievers with TVD.
They may not exhibit any symptoms or have right-sided heart failure symptoms, such as:
- Fluid in the abdomen
- Bloated abdomen
- Breathing difficulty
- rapid heartbeat
Patient history, physical examination, chest x-rays, ECG, and echocardiography are frequently used to diagnose TVD. The tricuspid valve can occasionally be surgically replaced with a prosthetic from a cow or pig. The treatment of this illness often involves the use of heart medications.
Depending on the disease’s severity, the prognosis for Labrador Retrievers with TVD can change. The lifespan of some Labradors with TVD is regular, and it is not advisable to breed dogs with TVD or a family history.
Degenerative joint disease (DJD) in the elbow results from multiple genetic orthopaedic problems, referred to as elbow dysplasia.
The following traits could be present in Labrador retrievers:
- Ununited anconeal process (UAP)
- Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)
- Middle compartment disease (MCD)
- Elbow joint discordance
Any of these ailments may result in forelimb lameness, especially after exercise. Pain is frequently found when a veterinarian examines the elbow’s range of motion.
Elbow dysplasia can occasionally affect both elbows. The most frequent tests used to identify this illness are X-rays and sophisticated imaging (CT scans).
Also, the only option for treating elbow dysplasia is orthopaedic surgery. If surgery is performed when the dog is young and the illness is in its early stages, there is typically a fair prognosis. It is not advisable to breed Labrador Retrievers with a history of elbow dysplasia.
An orthopaedic genetic disorder called hip dysplasia causes the femur head to not fit tightly into the hip joint. Due to the femoral head’s propensity to rub against the hip socket, the hip joint eventually undergoes bone remodelling, which causes arthritis.
One hip joint or both hip joints may experience hip dysplasia. Although it is uncommon, some Labrador Retrievers are born with congenital hip dysplasia, while others get it as they age.
These signs include:
- Difficulty rising slowly from a lying position
- Hopping like a bunny while running
- Refusal to move quickly, jump, or climb or descend stairs
- Holding out the affected leg when sitting upright
Puppies as young as 16 weeks old can be subjected to the PennHIP screening procedure, and Sedation or anaesthesia is required. To identify which dogs are most prone to get hip dysplasia throughout their lives, specialised pelvic x-rays are taken. These canines can be located with a PennHIP evaluation, enabling early treatment.
Depending on the degree, hip dysplasia might get a variety of treatments. Sometimes you can manage Hip dysplasia by using vitamins, drugs, and reduced activity. In some situations, a dog may require surgery to address the problem.
One Common Labrador Health Problem Is Centronuclear Myopathy
Centronuclear myopathy (CNM) is a rare congenital condition affecting skeletal muscle. The hind limbs’ reflexes deteriorate under this situation.
Clinical symptoms include an irregular stride and the inability to engage in physical activity, such as running or walking. Particularly in colder regions, the muscles deteriorate. In Labradors, symptoms typically appear between 2 and 5 months.
By the time a dog reaches age 1, its head, neck, and leg muscles generally have started to atrophy, leading to weakness and persistent gait problems. After one year of age, the condition usually stabilises.
You must conduct a muscle biopsy on your dog to diagnose this illness. The preferred form of treatment is genetic therapy.
The genetic mutation for CNM in Labrador Retrievers can be detected by DNA testing. Reputable breeders will screen their dogs, and those with the genetic mutation won’t be bred.
Heart Diseases Are One Of The Common Labrador Health Problems
In the canine population, heart disease is a common issue. Even the healthiest adult dogs can acquire heart disease, so prevention should focus on maintaining overall fitness.
Ensure your dog receives all necessary immunisations on time, eats high-quality kibble, drinks enough water, and exercises frequently.
Your veterinarian could suggest a supplement if your dog has heart problems to prevent congestive heart failure. Give your pet the necessary dose to ward off heart disease, and try to keep him at a healthy weight at all times.
A Labrador Retriever’s spleen, liver, or heart are the most common locations where hemangiosarcoma (HAS) first appears. HAS develops into a blood-filled tumour that can rupture any time, posing a life-threatening risk to the dog by causing internal bleeding.
Clinical indicators may include:
- White gums (white)
- abdomen-related fluid (ascites)
- Having no appetite
- Having trouble breathing
Imaging tests (such as x-rays, ultrasounds, or CT/MRI) may initially be unable to detect this disease because of its rapid ability to spread to other body parts. The prognosis for this cancer is pretty bad.
Nutritional Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Labrador Retrievers can develop nutritional dilated cardiomyopathy (nutritional DCM) by consuming a grain-free diet with peas, beans, or lentils among the top five ingredients. The heart becomes dilated and dysfunctional as a result of DCM.
Therefore, Asymptomatic Labrador Retrievers with mild to moderate DCM are possible. Rapid heartbeat, coughing, respiratory problems, drowsiness, lack of appetite, collapse, weight loss, and even death are signs of severe instances.
However, a veterinarian may identify this heart problem by listening for a heart murmur during a routine examination or doing an NT-proBNP assay. This blood test examines heart function.
Additional tests (ECG, blood pressure, chest x-rays, and echocardiogram) will be advised if a Labrador Retriever has increased proBNP or a heart murmur to determine the cause.
Early detection of nutritional DCM allows for its reversal by feeding the dog a high-quality meal rich in grains and cardiac vitamins.
Although heart drugs may be able to treat the disease for a while if it is advanced, the disease cannot be reversed. You can stop this problem by providing your Labrador with well-balanced food containing grain.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
The eye condition known as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) can come from several different genetic abnormalities. Over time, the retina gradually deteriorates, causing the pupils to dilate permanently and eventually go blind.
Also, an eye exam can identify PRA, which typically appears in Labrador Retrievers between 3 and 9 years old. Dogs with this illness may benefit from gene therapy, but further study is required to ensure a better outcome.
Furthermore, reputable breeders will DNA test their canines for the PRA mutations, and breeding dogs with specific genetic mutations are not recommended.
Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC)
The hereditary neuromuscular illness known as exercise-induced collapse (EIC) first affects the hind limbs. After vigorous exercise or excitement, a Labrador Retriever with EIC may experience reduced muscle tone in the rear limbs. Also, there will be an abrupt weakness in the hind limbs, which might cause stumbling when walking or collapsing.
However, dogs typically bounce back, although subsequent episodes of EIC are possible. A dog’s rectal temperature during an episode can reach 107 °F, which is dangerous. Around their first birthday, Labrador Retrievers with EIC typically begin experiencing episodes.
Furthermore, if your dog has EIC, your veterinarian can help you choose the best course of action. The genetic mutation that puts Labrador Retrievers at risk for EIC can be identified with a DNA test. It is not advisable to breed dogs that have genetic mutations.
Preventing Common Health Problems In Labradors
The health mentioned above problems in Labradors is simply the situations to which the breed is more prone. Although they are more susceptible, your dog is not guaranteed to develop these issues.
Therefore, you must get puppies from a reputable breeder who is knowledgeable and concerned about the breed’s future if you want to lower the possibility that your dog will experience these problems.
Ethical breeders will also see the parents undergo essential examinations and tests to prevent the puppies from inheriting bad genes. Once you have a puppy, adequate, balanced food and regular exercise will keep them happy and healthy for the rest of their lives.
Although it is impossible to guarantee that your Labrador will never experience any of these health issues, you can take precautions to lower your dog’s risk. You give your pet the best opportunity of leading a long, healthy life by being proactive about his health.
Also, to help lower the chance that eye problems will be passed down to subsequent generations, responsible breeders ensure that their breeding stock receives an evaluation by an ophthalmologist.
Despite having a few health issues, Labs are generally a resilient breed. And you can anticipate spending many more years with your Lab by your side if you can give him all the care he needs to remain content and healthy. What are the common health problems in the Labrador breed?