Labradors Retrievers are one of the lowest maintenance dog breeds, making them a popular choice for families. They are social, smart, and curious dogs that often have fewer health problems than other breeds.
However, there are a few health conditions that are a bit more common with Labs. If you are considering a Lab puppy, you should know about these health problems so that you can take steps to avoid them.
It’s fairly common to see Labs with joint problems, especially as they reach old age. Joint problems in Labs usually affect the hips and elbows, causing stiffness and a limited range of movement. This can make it difficult for your dog to move around and go up and down stairs.
Some hip problems are genetic, and there is little you can do in these cases. However, not all hip problems are inherited, and you can help prevent them with good lifestyle choices.
Try to keep your Lab at a health weight, as this puts less strain on their joints. Also make sure that they get plenty of exercise, as this can prevent stiffness. Swimming is perfect for Labs, as it’s low impact and puts little direct pressure on joints.
You should also feed your Lab a balanced diet that’s rich in high quality proteins and vitamins. There are a few supplements marketed to help prevent joint issues, although it’s still not known how effective they are. Speak to your vet before using these supplements, as well as about any other lifestyle changes you can make to keep your Lab healthy.
Fortunately, most ear problems in Labs can be prevented with regular cleaning and good grooming habits. Try to keep their ears dry, as bacteria love moist environments. Use a towel to clean and dry their ears whenever they swim or take a bath.
You should also keep an eye out for any signs of infection, such as swelling or discharge from the ears. Try to clean out their ears once and awhile with ear cleaners designed for dogs. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can have a groomer clean out their ears and trim back hair.
Labs are a bit more likely to have weight problems than other dogs. The good news is that issues with weight are fairly easy to avoid, as long as you feed your dog a healthy, balanced diet and get them plenty of exercise.
In addition to obesity, Labs can suffer from bloat, a condition where the stomach rotates, causing serious health problems. To avoid bloat, don’t overfeed your dog or give them too much water, and try to keep them from exercising right after they eat.
Many breeds suffer from heart disease, especially as dogs begin to reach old age. Labs are no exception, and they may be slightly more likely to have heart problems at a younger age.
Healthy dogs can still have heart problems, but you can lower the risk with good lifestyle choices. Feed your dog a diet that is rich in proteins and healthy fats, make sure that they get exercise every day, and make sure to take them to their vet checkups.
If they do have any heart issues, you can prevent heart failure with a number of different medications. Speak to your vet about your options.
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