Labrador health problems

Eye 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.

Joint problems

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a disease of the hip in which the joint does not develop properly, causing 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.

Labrador on grass

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia occurs when the bones that make up the elbow joint do not fit together as they should, due to 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.

Stomach 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.

Ear problems

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.

Looking for more dog advice?

Find the information you need as we support you through every step of your journey with your canine companion.


Need Insurance for your Labrador?

Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your Labrador gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £8.5 million to more than 800 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.