Most common health problems in Labrador Retrievers, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your Labrador Retriever

If you want to AVOID health problems in your Labrador Retriever, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your Lab already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


Labrador Retriever dog breed

Labrador Retriever Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of Labrador Retriever health problems

Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patella (loose knee joints) – pain, lameness, expensive surgery. Labs are also prone to rupturing the ligaments in their hind legs.... more pain, lameness, and expensive surgery.

A number of eye diseases cause blindness in Labrador Retrievers. Heart disease, epilepsy, and cancer are serious concerns, cutting the lives of many Labrador Retrievers short.

Skin problems are common, especially chronic allergies that cause itchy skin and scratching that can break the skin and lead to infection (hot spots).

Labrador Retrievers are at higher-than-average risk for an emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat, which can kill a dog within hours.

A number of neurological/neuromuscular diseases, some of them deadly, affect Labrador Retrievers.

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Labrador Retriever have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases and hip and elbow dysplasia, your Labrador Retriever has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Labrador Retriever, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your Labrador Retriever puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Labrador Retriever puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Labrador Retriever lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Labrador Retriever
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Labrador Retriever. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Labrador Retriever
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Labrador Retriever. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Labrador Retriever puppy really need? Does your adult Labrador Retriever need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.


Information on spaying your Labrador Retriever. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Labrador Retriever. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of Labrador Retriever health problems

According to the Orthopedic Foundation of America, the Labrador Retriever has a 12% rate of hip dysplasia and a 10% rate of elbow dysplasia. But the true rates are higher, because most of the obviously bad x-rays weren't sent in for evaluation. Painful orthopedic conditions in Labs are panosteitis and hypertrophic osteodystrophy. Labs are also prone to rupturing the cruciate ligament in their hind legs.

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 serious neurological/neuromuscular diseases affect Labrador Retrievers, including polyneuropathy (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.

Exercise-induced collapse is an odd disease in which young Labradors who have been vigorously exercising suddenly begin swaying, collapse, and require a rest before they can move again.


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.