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Common Health Issues in Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers have a good reputation due to their eagerness to please their owner and naturally sweet nature. This breed requires daily exercise to keep their body fit as well as their mind occupied. There are a variety of health issues that are known to affect Labrador Retrievers. While not every Lab will experience health issues, the following are ones that may arise during his or her lifetime.

  • Acute Moist Dermatitis – This skin condition is caused by bacterial infection. Symptoms include inflamed red skin that appears as blotches or spots located throughout the body. Veterinarians will usually prescribe antibiotics and special medicated shampoo to help cure the condition and relieve symptoms.
  • Ear Infections – Labs enjoy swimming and being near water sources. This makes them prone to getting water in their ears that quickly develops into an ear infection. Symptoms include redness, irritation, frequent scratching, odor and discharge in the ear. To prevent frequent ear infections dog owners will want to clean their Lab’s ears after swimming.
  • Cold Tail – This condition is painful to the dog and causes the tail to go limp. The cause is usually an issue with the muscles between the vertebrae. The good news is, this condition usually goes away on its own and within a few days.
  • Hip Dysplasia – This condition is inherited from the bloodline of the dog. Symptoms include lameness in the rear legs, whimpering, difficulty standing and slowness to walk. Veterinarians have a process in place to help ease the discomfort of dysplasia and sometimes surgery may be part of the solution.
  • Cataracts – This is usually a hereditary eye disease that can develop over time. It is basically a cloudy spot that grows gradually over time and impairs the vision of the eye. Symptoms of seeing problems include bumping into objects and furniture and hesitating to jump on the bed due to the inability to see well. Cataracts can be treated and removed with surgery.
  • Epilepsy – This condition can be caused by a variety of issues such as tumors, exposure to toxins, head injuries, metabolic disorders and much more. Only the veterinarian will be able to run tests that will confirm the source of the trigger. The main symptom of Epilepsy is seizure. This is when a lab will fall over onto his or her side and twitch the legs and body uncontrollably. It is a difficult thing for a dog owner to experience however it can be treated with medication and other methods depending on the source of the trigger.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy – This condition is also known as PRA and it involves the deterioration of the retina gradually. Symptoms include night-blindness and eventually loss of daytime vision. Many Labs are able to adjust to being blind by using their other senses. Discussing the condition with a veterinarian is encouraged to see if there are any possible cures for the condition.

The health issues stated above are only possible conditions that a Labrador Retriever can experience. Risk of developing these health issues depends on breeding practices and bloodlines of the specific dog. The parents of the dog can be tested for a variety of health issues, which can assist the dog owners of the offspring with preparing to handle the same type of issues with their dog.

Photo credit: japrea/Flickr