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Labrador Retriever – Health and Care


HEALTH

THE IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE:

The Labrador Retriever is an exuberant, very energetic breed that needs lots of exercises every day both physical and mental, to keep them happy. They are active and sociable dogs and need daily exercise, preferably in the form of retrieving and swimming. They also love to burn up energy on hunting trips or at field trials, as well as by participating in canine sports such as agility, obedience, tracking, and dock diving. Many Labs also work hard in important roles such as search-and-rescue, drug and bomb detection, and as service and assistance dogs.

Labrador Retrievers are considered “workaholics,” and usually exhaust themselves. It is up to you to end play and training sessions. They show some variation in their activity levels, but all of them need activity, both physical and mental. Daily 30-minute walks, a romp at the dog park, or a game of fetch, are a few ways to help them burn off energy. A Lab who doesn’t get enough exercise is likely to engage in hyperactive and/or destructive behavior to release pent-up energy.

Labrador puppies are definitely lively, but most will slow down a bit as they grow up. However, they usually remain fairly active throughout their lives. The puppy should not be taken for too long walks and should play for a few minutes at a time. They are not known to be escape artists, but with the right motivation such as a whiff of something yummy they will take off. Make sure your Lab has current identification tags and a microchip, with the owner’s name and address on their collar and tags.

HEALTH INFORMATION:

Labrador Retriever is a healthy breed with relatively few major problems. Notable issues related to health and well-being include inherited disorders and obesity. They are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Labs are somewhat prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, though not as much as some other breeds. They also suffer from the risk of knee problems. Eye problems are also possible in some Labradors. Dogs that are intended to be bred should be examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist for an eye score.

Hereditary myopathy, a rare inherited disorder that causes a deficiency in type II muscle fiber. Symptoms include a short stilted gait or “bunny hopping.” There is a small incidence of other conditions, such as autoimmune diseases and deafness, either congenitally or later in life. Labradors often suffer from exercise-induced collapse, a syndrome that causes hyperthermia, weakness, collapse, and disorientation after short bouts of exercise. Like other large, deep-chested dogs, Labs can develop a life-threatening stomach condition called bloat. Owners should educate themselves about the symptoms that indicate this is occurring, and what to do if so.

Not all will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of some of them if you’re considering this breed like, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), Cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Epilepsy, Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD), Myopathy, Gastric Dilataion-Volvulus, Acute Moist Dermatitis, Cold Tail, Ear Infections.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Dysplasia,
  • Elbow Dysplasia,
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • EIC DNA Test

adult and puppy lab


CARE

TRAINING:

Labrador Retriever has such a good reputation that many people think they don’t need to bother with training. That’s a big mistake. Without training, a rambunctious Lab puppy will soon grow to be a very large, rowdy dog. Sign up for puppy and obedience classes as soon as you bring your Labrador home. Training is definitely necessary because this breed has a lot of energy and exuberance. Luckily, Labs take to training well; in fact, they often excel in obedience competitions.

They are energetic animals, and like all dogs, they need to be taught good canine manners. With the Labrador’s physical strength and high energy level, early socialization and puppy training classes are vital. Gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of 7 weeks and 4 months and beginning obedience training early on will help him develop into a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult.

Labs are devoted, intelligent, and enthusiastic companions who need to be included in family activities. Aside from a winning personality, they have the intelligence and eagerness to please that make them easy to train. Start with puppy kindergarten, which not only teaches your pup good canine manners but helps them learn how to be comfortable around other dogs and people. Look for a class that uses positive training methods that reward the dog for getting it right, rather than punishing them for getting it wrong.

CARE TIPS

The lovable Labrador Retriever needs to be around their family and is definitely not a backyard dog. If they’re left alone for too long, a lonely, bored Labrador is apt to dig, chew, or find other destructive outlets for their energy. They are mouthy, and they’re happiest when they have something, anything, to carry in their mouth. So be sure to keep sturdy toys available all the time, unless you want your couch chewed up. And when you leave the house, it’s wise to keep them in a crate or kennel so they can’t get themselves into trouble chewing things they shouldn’t.

You’ll need to take special care if you’re raising a Lab puppy. Don’t let your puppy run and play on very hard surfaces such as pavement until they’re at least two years old and their joints are fully formed. Normal play on grass is fine, as is puppy agility, with its one-inch jumps.

Begin accustoming your Labrador to being brushed and examined when they’re a puppy. Handle their paws frequently, dogs are touchy about their feet and look inside their mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and another handling when they’re an adult.

GROOMING:

Grooming doesn’t get much easier with Labrador Retriever, but this breed does shed a lot. Buy a quality vacuum cleaner and brush your dog daily, especially when they’re shedding, to get out the loose hair. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

They need a bath about every two months or so to keep them looking clean and smelling good. Of course, if your Lab rolls in a mud puddle or something foul, which they’re apt to do, it’s fine to bathe them more often.

Brush your Labrador’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and prevent you from getting scratched when your Lab enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

Their ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which indicates an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear. Because ear infections are common in Labs, after bathing, swimming, or any time your dog gets wet clean its ears. This helps prevent infection.

Consider adopting before you shop for a breeder.


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