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Medical Issues with Labs and Homemade Remedies
Common Medical Problems in Labrador Retrievers
The two most common health problems that labs usually have are:
- Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia-These are crippling
abnormalities of the joints. Buy from a reputable breeder that
has addressed this problem in its breeding stock.
- Progressive Retinal dysplasia or atrophy and
Steps To A Healthy and Happy Labrador
Photo right: Courtesy of Endless Mountain Labradors
Start all of these preventative steps when your dog is a small
puppy so that they become used to these and they become second
nature to your dog rather than a struggle as your dog gets older
when it is imperative that they be done.
- Labradors are shedding dogs. They need to be brushed 1 or 2
times weekly with a firm brush or currying comb. The short coat
is easy to comb but needs to be done regularly. This of course
needs to be done outside. This will cut down on the
housecleaning and will keep the Lab’s skin clean and healthy.
Much of the literature says that a Labrador is a medium shedder.
I would argue that this is an underestimate.
- Labrador’s triangular shaped ears fit tight to their
heads and trap moisture. They need to be cleaned weekly with an
ear wash and dried with a soft cloth. Ear infections are common
with Labradors and this simple weekly task will save time and
money at the vets and a lot of aggravating ear and head
- Keep your Labrador thin. Labradors are great eaters
and will eat until they can hold no more food. Do not leave the
food out and let them eat when they want to. Automatic feeders
were not made for Labradors. To extend their life span they need
to be kept thin. Regular exercise and well controlled portions
are the rule for a lab.
- Keep your Labrador off the furniture and keep them
from jumping off high objects. One of the most common health
issues with Labrador Retrievers are problems with their joints.
This may not stop a genetic hip or knee defect but it will stop
an overly energetic Labrador from hurting themselves and causing
premature arthritis. Also, a herniated disc in the back is not
unheard of for a Labrador.
- Brushing Teeth – This is almost impossible to start
with an older dog. Vets will tell you that it is very important
to keep dogs teeth clean and free of tartar in order to promote
overall health. Puppies will see it as a game and the toothpaste
which you can buy at all animal specialty stores will be a
- Bathing – Some of the Labrador literature tells not to
bath a Labrador. My dogs have always been bathed 1-2 times
monthly. My dogs love a bath. In fact, I can tell my younger dog
that it is time for a bath and she will go sit in the tub and
wait on me. Labradors are not smelly dogs like some hound breeds
but a bath makes them smell really nice and cuts the shedding in
- Nails – Labradors are extremely sensitive to having
their feet touched. Their nails grow long quickly and will
scratch hardwood floors and linoleum. If they grow too long they
also tend to throw off their stance. Trim their nails often and
start doing it when they are very young. Remember to cut off
small portions at a time so as not to cut into the quick and
cause them to bleed.
- Keep your Lab’s food and water dishes clean. This may
seem like common sense, but some people do not consider this.
Dogs like humans are susceptible to germs so keep their dishes
as clean as yours.
- Labradors do well when you leave them on the same food
all the time. Once you have found a good quality food that your
dog likes do not swap around to different foods. Swapping foods
will usually give your Lab diarrhea. If you find it necessary to
change foods ( for instance from puppy to adult) do it in steps.
Introduce ¼ of the new food mixed with the old food for 3-4
days. If no adverse reaction occurs then go to ½ new food and ½
old food for another 3-4 days. After a week then go completely
to the new food.
- If your dog develops diarrhea or nausea for some
reason you need to be very careful. Dogs dehydrate quickly. Take
them off dog food and at the same time give them all the water
they want. If a dog refuses to take water then they need to make
a trip to the vet.
Homemade Dog Food for Stomach Upset
When dogs develop stomach problems and can not tolerate their
usual dog food there is a great food that you make yourself which is
easily tolerated and helps them to get over stomach distress. (My
dogs have never turned this food down)
1 lb cooked and well drained ground beef
4 cups cooked rice
2 cups cottage cheese
1 can veg-all vegetables
I have been making this food for my old lab (14 years
old) for several months. As long as she eats this, there are
no stomach problems. The minute I try to introduce dog food she gets
I have used this recipe with my dogs for years. It was
originally given to me by my daughter's Vet.