Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds we care for at our hospital. They are predisposed to certain diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of the diseases they are prone to.
Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to hip dysplasia, a disease characterized by malformation in the hip socket, which eventually causes arthritis. The symptoms of this disease can vary, from a pet that is just not as active as it should be, to a dog that can barely get up after laying down. This breed also gets joint problems in other bones, particularly to the elbow joint and shoulder joint. Problems here are usually manifested by limping in the front legs. A physical exam and x-rays will help make the diagnosis.
If your young lab seems lethargic, disoriented, or just not with it, especially after eating, it might have a liver disease called a portosystemic shunt.
Unfortunately, the also can get a malignant cancer of the lymph nodes called lymphosarcoma. Please refer to our Learning Center to learn how to perform a lymph node exam. One of our doctors will help you find them.
Active labs that run and jump vigorously are prone to tearing a ligament in their knee call the cranial cruciate ligament. This occurs where there is a twisting or tweaking motion. Symptoms range from a subtle lameness to complete limping.
Labradors are also at risk for several eye problems including PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), cataracts, and retinal dysplasia. All of these eye problems manifest themselves by a loss of vision. If we suspect one of these problems we will refer you to our ophthalmologist. Hereditary cataracts can also occur. The problem can occur at an early age, and while cataracts may or may not interfere with the dog’s vision, some do progress into severe or total loss of vision.
Labrador Retrievers can also have an inherited deficiency in one of the clotting factors of the blood. Dogs affected with this disease may have symptoms varying from very mild to severe bleeding. If your pet bruises easily or bleeds excessively, this disease is a possibility.
Hypothyroidism, a metabolic disease characterized by inadequate thyroid hormone circulating in the bloodstream, is common in the breed. Symptoms include obesity, lethargy, and/or coat problems. Affected animals may also have various reproductive problems, including irregular or absent estrus (heat cycle), and lack of fertility.
Other hormone problems include Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushings), Diabetes Mellitus (sugar diabetes), and insulonima (causing low blood sugar). Symptoms vary, and usually include excess drinking and urinating.
If your Lab is underweight and regurgitates its food it might have an esophagus problem secondary to myasthenia gravis.
This breed is prone to many skin problems, particularly allergies and hot spots. The usual symptoms are excessive scratching, flaky or bumpy skin, an odor to the haircoat, and hairloss. Also watch for a lack of pigmentation on the nose or flakiness to the nose.
Run your hands over its haircoat daily because they can even get a malignant skin cancer called a mast cell tumor. These can appear as minor bumps or areas of inflammation, yet they can be highly malignant.
A vast array of eye problems can occur. Any discharge, redness, swelling, squinting, or pawing at the eyes is reason for an immediate exam.
Labs are also prone to ear trouble, which can be very painful without your realization. Any sign of head shaking, pawing at the ears, inflamed ears or odor requires veterinary attention. Daily checking for odors or discharge, and proper cleaning when needed, will help prevent this problem.
Several different types of heart problems can affect them. Look for symptoms of lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, and poor appetite as a clue.