Your Labrador depends on you for its good health. Since it cannot tell you that something is wrong, you must observe how your dog moves and behaves; any changes in activity or regular habits may be warnings signs of problems. Arrange annual check – ups, and always use your vet as a source of advice.
Easy, Graceful Movement:
Healthy dogs walk, trot, and run freely and effortlessly. A Labrador should move with fluidity and ease, its legs strong, straight and true. A ponderous gait can be caused by excess weight, while difficulties lying down or getting up may indicate joint problems – not uncommon, especially in older dogs. Limping is a sign that one leg in particular hurts, and head bobbing while walking usually also means that a dog is in pain. Watch your dog in its daily activities and be alert to any discomfort or loss of mobility.
Sound Appetite and Eating Habits:
Eating and toilet routines adopted during puppyhood are normally maintained throughout life. Even slight changes can be a sign of ill health, and should be referred to your vet. A reduced appetite is very uncommon in Labradors, and although it can simply indicate boredom, it may also signal illness. Asking for food but not eating it can mean tooth pain. So too can sloppy eating – with food being dropped, then picked up and eaten. Occasionally, Labradors will “eat” inedible items such as pebbles or soil. This can be learned behavior, but may reflect a digestive disorder or mineral deficiency. A heightened appetite without weight gain can indicate a thyroid problem. Increased thirst is always important and may be a sign of infection or conditions such as diabetes and liver or kidney disease.
Active and Alert?
Canines are creatures of habit. If your dog does not get up when it usually does, moves slower, or is reluctant to play, it could be ill. However, because Labradors are stoic and relish human companionship, they will often try to behave normally to please their owner, even when unwell. Observe your dog closely; if its actions seem even slightly strange, consult your veterinarian for advice.
Caring for the Older Dog:
Do not expect your dog to remain puppy – like forever. With age, it will slow down and may become hard of hearing, even irritable at times. Be patient with its behavior, and gentle in your handling. Try to create less physically demanding activities; elderly dogs still enjoy playing, but are less agile and energetic. Given as part of the daily diet, a tennis ball cut with a hole and filled with dry food offers excellent mental stimulation to help keep your Labrador young at heart.
Regular Health Checks:
Dogs that are vaccinated and have annul health check – ups tend to live longer than those that do not. Many conditions, such as splenic tumours, are not outwardly apparent, but may be diagnosed upon close physical examination. Always inform your vet of any observed deviations in behavior; problems are easiest to treat if detected early. Later in your Labrador’s life, regular twice – yearly clinic visits may be recommended.
Making Visits to the Vet Fun:
Introduce your Labrador to the veterinary clinic before it needs any treatment, so that it can have an investigative sniff and explore the premises. Ask your vet to give your dog a food treats while it is there, to make the next visit more appealing. If your vet does not supply treats, take some yourself and offer them when your dog is inoculated; this will provide suitable distraction from the unpleasant. Repeat trips can be made less of a hardship for you, too by taking out insurance cover on your pet’s health. This will ensure that you can benefit from the most sophisticated diagnostics and treatments.