Labrador Retriever Health Problems and Raising a Labrador Retriever Puppy to be Healthy
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
The most common health problems in Labrador Retrievers:
Orthopedic problems are very common, with Labrador Retrievers suffering high rates of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and luxating patella.
- Between 1974 and 2005, the Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 176,000 Labs and found 12 dysplastic. Compare that to the Flat-Coated Retriever, who has a hip dysplasia rate of 4%.
- Similarly, the elbow X-rays of 33,000 Labrador Retrievers were evaluated and 11.5% were dysplastic. Compare that to the Flat-Coat at 1.5%
- Luxating patella was evaluated at 18% – the 5th worst rate of 57 breeds.
Other orthopedic health problems in Labrador Retrievers include osteochondritis, panosteitis, cruciate ligament rupture, wobbler's syndrome, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy.
Eye diseases are common in Labradors, as well:
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) appears at 4-8 years old and leads to blindness.
- Cataracts can appear anytime from birth to old age.
- Retinal dysplasia is very common in Labrador puppies, especially from field-hunting lines – it ranges from mild to severe and can be accompanied by a form of dwarfism in which the front legs are shortened and bowed out at the elbows.
- Eyelid abnormalities include entropion and ectropion.
Heart disease (tricuspid valve dysplasia) and epilepsy have become serious concerns in Labrador Retrievers.
Tumors and cancers (especially mast cell tumors, melanoma, histiocytic sarcoma, digital squamous cell carcinoma) are increasing in the breed.
As with all deep-chested breeds, Labs are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.
Skin problems are common, especially allergies, which cause itchy skin and often lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma). Other skin diseases include seborrhea, lick granuloma, and nail bed disease.
Hormonal/endocrine system diseases occur in Labs, especially hypothyroidism, but also diabetes and Addison's disease.
Blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's, hemophilia A, hemophilia B) are potential concerns in the breed.
A number of neurological/neuromuscular diseases affect Labrador Retrievers, including polyneuropathy (specifically centronuclear myopathy), laryngeal paralysis, megaesophagus, myasthenia gravis, cerebellar ataxia, narcolepsy, and also vague head tremors that may be the result of unknown abnormalities in the brain.
In field/hunting lines, exercise-induced weakness is an odd disease in which young adult Labs (7-24 months old) who have been vigorously exercising suddenly begin swaying, collapse, and require a rest before they can move again.
You probably want to know if you can prevent those health issues from happening to YOUR Labrador Retriever.
Yes, often you can.
- Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Labrador Retrievers today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Labrador Retriever puppy who is genetically healthy.
- Other health problems are environmental, which means they're caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Labrador Retriever puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Labrador Retriever puppy or adult dog:
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Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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