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Common Health Problems in Labrador Retrievers

While Labrador Retrievers tend to be healthy, some genetic disorders do occasionally occur. These are some of the more common genetic disorders in Labrador Retrievers:

  • Hip dysplasia: This is the most common orthopedic problem in Labs (and in many larger dogs). Although not congenital (it isn't present at birth), hip dysplasia is probably due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. If your dog develops hip dysplasia (the condition can be seen on an x-ray), she may suffer no symptoms at all. Or she may eventually experience severe pain and even lameness. Some Labs require no treatment, but if your Lab develops hip dysplasia and does require treatment, many excellent management strategies, treatments, and surgical options exist.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): This degenerative eye disorder eventually results in your dog becoming blind. A board-certified canine ophthalmologist can examine your dog's eyes if you suspect she is having any vision problems. If you buy your Lab from a breeder who is diligent about eye testing, you probably won't encounter PRA.
    PRA is a genetic problem involving a recessive gene. If a puppy receives the gene from both parents, she will develop PRA. If she receives the gene from only one parent, she will be a carrier and should not be bred to another Lab that is also a carrier. The location of the gene that involves PRA has been determined in Labs, and a blood test has been developed to determine whether a Lab is affected, a carrier, or clear.
  • Epilepsy: If your Lab has epilepsy, that means she will have seizures. Epilepsy can be due to environmental or genetic factors and will probably show up relatively early if inherited. Seizures can be frightening for your Lab and for you. The most important thing to do for your Lab during a seizure is to keep her from hurting herself. Talk to your vet about the best strategies for managing seizures if your Lab has epilepsy. Depending on the frequency and severity of the seizures, your vet may recommend medication.
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