A beautiful family dog that is a wonderful companion and a great guard dog, Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. However, if you are planning to get one of those adorable, pudgy Labrador puppies, then it is advisable that you keep in mind the genetic and other health problems that this boisterous and hardworking breed is prone to suffer.

Common Health Problems in Labrador Retrievers

Canine Hip Dysplasia

This genetic skeletal health problem results in the hip joints of the dogs being affected. Also known as degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, and osteoarthrosis, canine hip dysplasia causes an abnormal development of the hip joints so that the femoral head (ball of the hip joint) does not fit into the pelvic socket. A shallow cup of the hip joint or changes in the hip joint "ball" are some of the characteristic signs of hip dysplasia. This causes pain and lameness in dogs. The malformation of the hip joints is also a primary factor in the development of arthritis problems in dogs.

What causes hip dysplasia in dogs? Well, this condition in dogs is caused due to genetic factors. Sometimes conditions such as being overweight, overexertion, ligament tears, and injuries can cause hip dysplasia in Labradors. An abnormal gait, bunny hopping, and a reluctance to climb stairs or exercise are some of the common symptoms of canine dysplasia.

Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia results in the degeneration of the retina, causing vision loss and even blindness in dogs. This is an inherited dog disease in breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, and Labrador Retrievers. A microscopic retinoscopic examination can reveal the folds and rosettes within the outer retinal layers. Other eye problems in Labradors include juvenile cataracts and corneal dystrophy in dogs. An eye score by an ophthalmoscopic examination is an essential step towards diagnosing the eye problems in Labradors.

Canine Muscular Dystrophy

A progressive degeneration of the muscular tissues, canine muscular dystrophy results in muscular weakness, stiff gait, and a tendency to avoid exercises. A muscle biopsy of the young puppies along with a blood test and electromyography can allows the veterinarian to diagnose the problem. Dogs suffering from muscular degeneration can suffer from problems like heart muscle disease.

Gastric Torsion in Dogs

Gastric torsion and bloat in Labrador Retrievers results in the twisting and congestion of the stomach and its contents. This results in gas formation accompanied by rapid swelling of the abdomen. Excruciating pain and even death are the outcome of the untreated gastric torsion and dilation in dogs. Other than Labradors, deep-chested breeds like Great Dane and Mastiffs are prone to this medical problem. Along with abdominal distension, the common signs of gastric torsion includes salivation and drooling, extreme restlessness, attempts to vomit and defecate, and evidence of abdominal pain.


Elbow Dysplasia

The improper development of certain parts of the elbow joints results in uneven joint surface, inflammation, joint swelling, lameness, and arthritis. The most common cause of elbow dysplasia are genetic factors. However, certain hormonal and traumatic and nutritional factors can be blamed for this health problem. Joint stiffness, pain, and painful arthritis are the most common symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs. Pain relief or anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce the pain. However, treatment may involve a surgical correction.

Osteochondritis Dissecans

This disease of the cartilage layer of the joints, Osteochondritis dissecans is usually observed in young puppies and growing dogs of the large breed dogs. The most commonly affected parts are the elbow, shoulder, and ankle joints in dogs. This can be painful for the dog resulting in limping, swelling, and stiff gait. Since the joints are inflamed and swollen, you might observe the dog howling in pain, especially, when trying to extend a swollen joint. Sometimes injuries caused by jumping off high objects and obesity can result in this health problem in dogs.

In addition to this, this boisterous dog breed is prone to suffering from a number of other health related problems. Other health problems include dog obesity, megaesophagus, hypothyroidism, laryngeal paralysis, diabetes mellitus, and epilepsy in dogs. Labrador Retrievers are also prone to common injuries like ruptured cruciate ligaments and limber tail syndrome. It is up to the responsible breeders to take steps to minimize the risk of problems occurring in their puppies by making use of the relevant controlling systems set up by the breed clubs and kennel associations.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.