Labrador health problems
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a condition in Labrador Retrievers that causes blindness over a course of months or years because of the degeneration of the retina. It affects both eyes and is an inherited condition which cannot be caused by any other risk factors, meaning it’s not preventable without responsible breeding.
There is no treatment or cure for PRA, so preparing your dog for life without vision would be the best steps to take following diagnosis.
Hip Dysplasia is a disease of the hip in which the joint does not develop properly, which causes inflammation, swelling and eventually arthritis. It is a painful condition that will need on-going treatment for the rest of your dog’s life. The chosen treatment will depend on the severity, ranging from anti-inflammatory medicine to surgery.
While Hip Dysplasia can be down to a Labrador’s genetics, keeping your dog at a healthy weight, providing an appropriate amount and type of exercise, and feeding them the right diet can all help reduce the pressure put on a dog’s joints.
Elbow Dysplasia occurs when the bones that make up the elbow joint do not fit together as they should, as a result of abnormal development. This can result in swelling, pain, lameness, cartilage damage and osteoarthritis.
A Labrador might show signs of pain, intermittent or persistent lameness, difficulty getting up and reluctance to exercise, but these will depend on the severity of the abnormality.
Elbow Dysplasia is not a condition that can be cured as it’s not possible to reverse the process, so it is often managed by light exercise, control of the dog’s body weight, hydrotherapy, dietary supplements and anti-inflammatory medicine.
To prevent this condition from being passed on, any Labrador that suffers from this condition should not be bred from.
Weight problems (obesity)
Labrador Retrievers are prone to obesity and their big appetite doesn’t help them to stay slender. Overweight dogs are at a higher risk for many other problems such as joint diseases (e.g. tearing of cruciate ligaments), heart diseases, metabolic diseases, etc.
A balanced meal plan and adequate exercise are key to keep your Labrador healthy and prevent more serious problems.
Gastric Dilation Volvulus (“GDV” or “Bloat”)
In large, deep-chested dog breeds like the Labrador Retriever, a life-threatening condition called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or “bloat”, occurs more frequently than in other breeds. It is torsion of the stomach and can occur when the stomach is too full and/or bloated, and rotates or twists around itself.
The exact cause of this problem is unknown, but the risk is reduced if you feed them smaller amounts over the day, instead of one big portion. Also, the dog should not be exercised too soon after eating.
Like many dogs with floppy ears, Labradors are very susceptible to ear infections. Sometimes they can be related to allergies or other underlying diseases, but most can be prevented by making sure you clean your dog’s ears regularly, to keep the skin barrier and the flora in the ear healthy.
One of the key responsibilities of dog ownership is to monitor for breed-specific health conditions, but unfortunately sometimes the unexpected can happen - visit our "Labrador insurance" page for more details on insuring your Labrador through our dog insurance policies.