4 Labrador Retriever Health Concerns

Labradors are known for their loyalty and love of humans. They have been bred to perform many tasks, such as fetching objects, pulling sledges, retrieving dropped items from the snow or even being trained as guard dogs. Labradors do not bark much when they want something and they usually understand commands very well. However, there are some behavioral traits which make them less than ideal pets. These include:

They tend to get bored easily. This makes it difficult for them to learn new things. They may become aggressive with other animals and children if left alone too long. Some owners have had to put down their dogs because of aggression toward strangers or children.

They are prone to getting skin infections, especially if kept indoors. This leads to painful ulcers and abscesses. If these conditions worsen, the dog will die.

The breed is predisposed to hip dysplasia (a condition where the pelvis does not properly fit). Hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis later in life and eventually lead to death.

There is no cure for any of these diseases except surgery which can be expensive and risky.

Good breeding practices (which we will discuss later) can only help so much. Although the diseases can be managed to some extent, it is not possible to eliminate them altogether. You must decide if these health issues are a risk you are willing to take.

Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia are two conditions which primarily affect the joints in a dog’s hind legs and forelegs. They occur when the ball of the femur (thigh bone) and the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) do not fit properly into the hip and elbow joints.

The dysplasias are developmental conditions. This means that something happened during the growth of the dog while it was still a puppy (or fetus, in some cases). This causes the ball and socket joints to develop improperly.

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The first signs of hip and elbow dysplasia usually don’t appear until the dog is three or four years old. Some dogs, especially those with minor cases, do not show any outward signs at all. Dogs who do have noticeable symptoms usually experience a marked lameness in one or both rear legs. They may experience stiffness after resting. You may notice them “dragging” one rear leg as they try to walk.

The lameness may be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the dysplasia.

Dogs with hip dysplasia often posture themselves to put less strain on the hip joint. You may notice them standing with three legs on the ground and one “dragged” leg in the air. They may sit like this if their hip joints are hurting.

Elbow dysplasia is rarer than hip dysplasia. The first signs of elbow dysplasia usually appear around the same age as hip dysplasia, although it can appear later. The dog will display a lameness in one or both front legs. You may notice that they hold their front legs at an awkward angle.

Treatment for both hip and elbow dysplasia is based on relieving pressure from the painful joint(s). Your veterinarian may recommend pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs. He may also suggest a strict cage rest for your dog. This means keeping your dog indoors and stationary for long periods of time. This will reduce stress on the painful hip or elbow joint(s).

Over time, as the dog ages and the more it is treated, the dysplasia can be managed effectively. However, surgery is usually needed to remove the head of the femur or humerus. This involves an invasive procedure and there is a risk of complications, such as infection.

Benign Synovial Tumors

Benign tumors are masses of tissue that develop in the body where the cells grow in an uncontrolled manner. Benign tumors in dogs are very common. Most of the time they are completely harmless. Benign tumors most often occur in older animals.

There are several types of benign tumors that can affect the Doberman Pinscher. The most common benign tumors of the Doberman are lipomas, hemangiomas, and sebaceous gland tumors.

Lipomas are probably the most common benign tumor in the Doberman Pinscher. They are soft to the touch and move under the skin when pushed upon. Most lipomas are solitary and found just under the skin. These lipomas are able to be removed very easily and do not spread throughout the body (invasive). About twenty percent of lipomas are not so benign.

They are ulcerated, bleeding, and found deep in the musculature. These are much harder to treat and remove.

Hemangiomas are also soft to the touch, but they are full of bleeding blood vessels. If you press hard enough on a hemangioma, you will be able to see the blood seep through. They are also known as strawberry tumors due to their red appearance. These tumors can bleed spontaneously and cause the dog to become anemic.

Sebaceous Gland Tumors, like lipomas, are very common in the Doberman. They are not usually malignant, but they can spread internally throughout the body (invasive). There are four types of sebaceous gland tumors: simple, complex, proliferative, and sclerosing. Simple sebaceous tumors are usually not life-threatening. They are soft to the touch and move slightly when pushed upon.

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These are easily removed. Complex sebaceous tumors are similar to simple sebaceous tumors, but they have a greater potential to spread throughout the body. Proliferative sebaceous tumors are the most dangerous type of sebaceous tumor. They often metastasize, or spread throughout the body. These are hard to the touch. There is no color to these tumors; they are usually a dark brown or black color. Sclerosing (or infiltrating) tumors are very rare in dogs. They are also very invasive. If left untreated, they have a chance of spreading to internal organs and being fatal.

These types of tumors are not usually fatal if treated promptly.

Benign tumors in dogs can be very dangerous. They are masses of tissue that develop in the body where the cells grow in an uncontrolled manner. It is important to remember that benign tumors in dogs are very common; however, it is also important to know the signs and symptoms of these tumors so they can be removed before they become life-threatening.

Tumors are classified by three characteristics: the tissue of origin, whether or not the tumor can be cured, and how fast the tumor will grow. Tumors are also graded from 1 to 4, with 4 being the worst.

The tissue of origin gives a strong indication as to where in the body the tumor originated. The three types of tissue that tumors can develop from are skin, nerve, and musculature.

Skin tumors are the most common in dogs. They can appear anywhere on the body and come in all different shapes and sizes. They are also the easiest to treat, as they are not life-threatening.

The most common types of skin tumors are:

The most common type of tumor, accounting for almost 70% of all benign tumors, is the lipoma. These develop in the subcutaneous layer, or the layer just beneath the skin. They are often found just beneath the skin where there is little or no muscle, such as the abdomen. They are firm to the touch and moveable. Because they are not life-threatening, lipomas are often not treated at all.

Lipomas are solitary, which means they are not part of a family of tumors.

Solitary benign tumors that develop in the dermis are called fibromas. These develop from the connective tissue and are not life-threatening. They are not usually seen in dogs, but when they are, they are most often seen in middle-aged female dogs. They most often develop just beneath the skin, but sometimes it is deeper.

Fibromas are small and firm. They are tan and yellow in color.

Solitary tumors that develop from neuroendocrine cells and have a high potential to become cancerous are called neuroendocrine carcinomas. These often do not present any symptoms and are discovered when the dog is being examined for another reason. They are most common in medium to large-sized breeds of dogs, especially in males.

Other common types of skin tumors are cancerous and non-cancerous mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcomas.

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Mast cell tumors are very common in dogs. The cause of these types of tumors is unknown, but they often appear after the dog has reached middle age.

Sources & references used in this article: