most common health problems of labrador retrievers

By Andrew Fischer

The Most Common Health Problems of Labrador Retrievers and How to Avoid Them

Labradors are more susceptible to the following health conditions:

Obesity

Labradors don’t only love to eat, but they also tend to overeat because of a specific gene mutation. Researchers found that a variant of the POMC gene strongly suppresses their capacity to recognize hunger and the feeling of being full after a meal.

Obesity in Labs leads to lots of other health issues like diabetes, hip dysplasia, arthritis, etc.

So make sure you keep your Labrador’s weight under control by monitoring what he eats. 

Also, Labradors need daily at least 30 minutes of active exercise. Limiting the number of treats you give your dog also greatly reduces his weight. 

 

If you aren’t sure how much your Lab should be eating each day, consult THIS ARTICLE and ask your vet for the appropriate food portions for your dog.

Hip Dysplasia

Labradors are also quite susceptible to developing hip and elbow dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is common in many larger breeds and is caused by the femoral head not fitting correctly into the hip socket. This causes great pain to dogs and makes it difficult for them to walk properly. 

Keeping your Labrador at a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to prevent the development of hip and elbow dysplasia, as this alleviates stress on their joints. Swimming is also known to alleviate this stress and to ease pain and help with mobility.

Hip dysplasia mostly occurs in older dogs so make sure your senior Labrador keeps a healthy weight and swims from time to time. Pain-relieving drugs that help to minimize the symptoms also exist and your vet may prescribe them to your dog. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), is a degenerative disease that affects photoreceptors in your dog’s retina. With this disease, the cells deteriorate, which eventually leads to blindness. 

PRA often develops in older Labradors that are around 4-7 years old. 

Symptoms of PRA in dogs include cloudy eyes, night blindness, bumping into things, clumsiness, dilated pupils, and reflective eyes when light shines on them.

Night blindness (when your dog is nervous at night or is reluctant to go into dark rooms) usually appears first. Dogs may become completely blind after 12 months. 

At the moment there is no effective treatment for PRA. Since PRA is a hereditary disease,  it’s something that dogs are often born with if their parents had it. Proper selective breeding is the best way to eliminate PRA from the dogs’ gene pool. The good news is that PRA doesn’t usually affect the lifespan of dogs.

Some studies suggest that the use of vitamin supplements may reduce stress on lenses and delay cataract formation. 

Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD)

TVD is a defect in the valve on the right side of the heart.

There is currently no effective and affordable treatment for this disease but vets often prescribe diuretics to help relieve its symptoms.

Labradors that develop TVD should avoid high-intensity exercises like running and playing fetch over an extended period of time, so that they don’t put extra stress on their heart. Walking and other slower physical activities are recommended.