The Labrador is the most popular dog breed in the United States - and for good reason. These dogs are typically mild-tempered, sociable, easily trained, loyal and playful. Labs also require relatively little care and attention when compared to more high-maintenance breeds. Still, some health conditions are more common among Labradors. Here are some health problems your Lab may experience, along with a few ways to prevent them.
1. Joint Problems
Many Labs suffer from joint problems such as hip or elbow dysplasia. These conditions affect the hip or elbow joints, prohibiting normal movement and causing pain and immobility. While dysplasia isn't entirely preventable, its effects are lessened when your dog maintains a healthy weight, eats a high-quality food with plenty of vitamins and nutrients, and gets proper low-impact exercise (swimming is ideal). There are also many supplements available specifically for joint problems in dogs, but their efficacy has yet to be thoroughly studied; therefore, it's best to consult a vet about any specific supplements you wish to try.
2. Bloat and Obesity
Obesity is a common problem for many dogs, including Labs. Thankfully, it is fairly easy to prevent; simply monitor your dog's eating habits, and make sure he doesn't eat too much at meal times or snack in between. You may need to portion your dog's food so overeating isn't an option for him.
For humans, "bloat" usually refers to excess water weight, which is usually a harmless condition. For Labs, however, "bloat" refers to a serious medical condition that can actually be fatal. It refers to a distended abdomen due to a swollen or twisted stomach. While the exact cause of bloat hasn't been found, experts agree that you should avoid letting your dog overeat or overhydrate to lessen his chances of developing the condition. In addition, your dog should not exercise too soon after eating.
3. Ear Infections
Labradors are known for their large, floppy ears, which give them a comical look that is rather endearing. However, their large ears also provide a suitable breeding ground for bacteria, making Labs more susceptible to ear infections. You can keep ear infections at bay by ensuring your dog's ears stay clean and dry (take care to dry them after baths or swimming), checking often for any signs of infection, and removing any excessive hair in the ears (a groomer can handle this for you). If you believe your dog has developed an ear infection, please see a vet immediately for treatment.
4. Heart Disease
Heart disease is a common problem in the canine community. While it's quite common for even the healthiest elderly dogs to develop heart disease, general wellness is considered the best prevention. Make sure your dog stays up-to-date on all vaccinations, eats high-quality kibble, stays hydrated and gets regular exercise. If your dog is diagnosed with heart disease, your vet may recommend a supplement like Vetmedin Chewable Tablets to protect against congestive heart failure. Give your pet a recommended Vetmedin dosage to protect against heart disease and always strive to help him maintain a healthy weight.
While there is no way to ensure your Labrador never develops any of these health conditions, you can take preventive action to lessen your dog's risk. By staying proactive about your pet's health, you give him the greatest chance for living a long, happy life.