Labrador Health

Anyone interested in owning or breeding a Labrador Retriever should become familiar with the various medical conditions, and appropriate health clearances, before deciding to obtain a Labrador.  The following are some of the more common health issues in the Labrador Retriever breed:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia typically develops because of an abnormally developed hip joint, but can also be caused by cartilage damage from a traumatic fracture.  With cartilage damage or a hip joint that isn’t formed properly, over time the existing cartilage will lose its thickness and elasticity.  This breakdown of the cartilage will eventually result in pain with any joint movement. No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. Severity of the disease can be affected by environmental factors, such as caloric intake or level of exercise. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with barely any arthritic x-ray evidence that are severely lame.​   See more at www.offa.org

  

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow. Three specific etiologies make up this disease and they can occur independently or in conjunction with one another. These etiologies include:

  • Pathology involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP)

  • Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD)

  • Ununited anconeal process (UAP)

Studies have shown the inherited polygenic traits causing these etiologies are independent of one another. Clinical signs involve lameness which may remain subtle for long periods of time.  No one can predict at what age lameness will occur in a dog due to a large number of genetic and environmental factors such as degree of severity of changes, rate of weight gain, amount of exercise, etc. Subtle changes in gait may be characterized by excessive inward deviation of the paw which raises the outside of the paw so that it receives less weight and distributes more mechanical weight on the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow joint away from the lesions located on the inside of the joint. Range of motion in the elbow is also decreased.  See more at www.offa.org

 

Eye Screening

The purpose of the Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) is to provide breeders with information regarding canine eye diseases so that they may make informed breeding decisions in an effort to produce healthier dogs.  CAER certifications will be performed by board certified (ACVO) veterinary ophthalmologists.

For Labrador Retrievers, the examinations are generally conducted at 7 weeks of age, then annually up to the age of 10 years.

The procedure, which is conducted yearly, involves a careful and comprehensive examination of the eye.  To start with, the dog’s pupils are dilated with eye drops. The examiner then illuminates the eye with a penlight to look for any key abnormality.

The eye is then examined in detail using a slit lamp bio-microscope to identify any diminutive anomalies in the lens, cornea, and in the anterior chamber.  During this part of the exam anomalies such as distichia, cataracts, vitreal degenerations, and corneal dystrophy may be noticed.

Lastly, the retina is examined using an ophthalmoscope (usually an indirect ophthalmoscope). This exam provides the examiner a lucid view of all the parts of the retina.  The indirect ophthalmoscope device offers the veterinarian with proper optics and a light source.  Problems such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Retinal Dysplasia, optic nerve hypoplasia, choroidal hypoplasia may be revealed during this part of the examination.

If any problems are identified during these examinations, they are recorded in an official form by the Ophthalmologist.  Regardless of whether owners submit their CAER exam forms to the OFA for “certification,” all CAER exam data is collected for aggregate statistical purposes to provide information on trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility.  Clinicians and students of ophthalmology as well as interested breed clubs, individual breeders and owners of specific breeds will find this useful.  See more here.

 

Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC)

Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) is an inherited neuromuscular disorder affecting Labrador Retrievers. EIC presents as exercise intolerance in apparently healthy dogs.  Affected dogs are usually diagnosed before two years of age and appear normal during low to moderately strenuous activity.  However, shortly after 5-20 minutes of strenuous exercise affected dogs will begin to walk with a wobbly, uncoordinated gait that often only affects the hind limbs.  Dogs remain mentally alert and are not in pain during episodes of EIC. In some circumstances, the symptoms of EIC can progress to full body weakness with low muscle tone (flaccid paralysis), confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures and very rarely, death. The episodes typically last 5-10 minutes and most dogs will completely recover within 15-30 minutes.  See more here.

Progressive Retinol Atrophy 

The prcd-PRA test is a DNA-based test that helps you avoid one form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA refers to a group of diseases that cause the retina of the eye to degenerate slowly over time. The result is declining vision and eventual blindness. “prcd” stands for “progressive rod-cone degeneration” which is the type of PRA known in several breeds. AFTER reading the information on this page, you can link to information specifically about the breed in which you are interested.  See more here.