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Common Health Problems in Labrador Retrievers

By Lauren Leonardi . July 02, 2012 | See Comments

Common Health Problems in Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular and beloved breed throughout the United States and Canada. This dog is a great addition to any family. Learn more about this breed's health concerns here.

As its name implies, the Labrador Retriever was first bred in Labrador, Canada, for the purpose of retrieving fishing nets. Today, the dog is the most popular of all registered breeds in the United States and Canada, being both a good working and widely beloved family dog. The Labrador Retriever is a largely healthy dog, but it can nevertheless be prone to certain conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy and hip and elbow dysplasia. This breed can also be subject to exercise induced collapse. A Labrador Retriever’s lifespan ranges from 10 to 12 years.

Primary Health Conditions of the Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever can be subject to various joint conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, in which the bones meet improperly or are malformed at the joint. All Labs that might be used for breeding must be screened for the disease at two years of age; affected dogs must be taken out of the cycle. Still, many Labrador Retrievers suffer from the disease; surgery is an option and can mitigate the affects, but there is still no cure for hip dysplasia. Obesity, also common in the Labrador, is preventable. Obesity cause or exacerbate hip problems, diabetes, and arthritis, so make sure you watch your Lab's weight. The breed can also be susceptible to the inherited condition of progressive retinal atrophy, or degeneration of the retina, which can lead to sight problems. Surgery is possible, but good breeding practices are the best preventative.

Secondary Health Conditions of the Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is one of a few breeds that can suffer from exercise induced collapse. During exercise, the dog may suddenly experiences muscle weakness and fall over. These bouts can be dangerous, even life threatening, but if the dog is otherwise healthy, recurrences can be prevented by keeping the dog from overexertion. The Labrador Retriever can also be subject to hereditary myopathy, or the inability to generate certain muscle fibers. This can result in muscle weakness, an abnormal gait, and an arched back. The condition cannot be cured but can be medically managed.

Labrador Retriever Exercise and Walking Needs

The Labrador Retriever is a working dog and has a lively and active disposition. As such, this breed requires a good deal of exercise and play each day. Being a retriever, games with balls and frisbees will not only stimulate the dog physically, but mentally as well. Such activities also allow the Labrador to interact with and “work” for its owners, behaviors that are important to the breed. The Labrador can become lethargic, especially in later life, and as such might need to be encouraged to exercise.

Labrador Retriever Nutritional Needs

The Labrador Retriever is a hearty eater. Such an appetite is necessary for a dog that is active, but when the dog slows down due to age or opportunities for exercise are reduced, it can be prone to weight issues. Adjustments to the Labrador’s food portions should be made accordingly. One study performed on Labradors found that those dogs that maintained a lean body shape lived approximately 2 years longer than those dogs that did not.  

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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