What You Should Know About Arthritis in Labradors

November 24, 2019
Learn which types of arthritis tend to affect Labradors, why they are more susceptible to this disease and what you can do to help your pet.

Did you know that some dog breeds are more prone to certain illnesses or conditions than others? This is the case with arthritis in Labradors.

The Labrador’s tendency to put on excess weight is one contributing factor to this disease. However, there are other triggers that can be controlled in order to prevent or alleviate the effects of arthritis.

Generally, the clinical term ‘arthritis’ refers to the inflammation of joints. This condition affects not only humans but also certain animals. The animal’s size, weight, age and genetics are principal risk factors.

Arthritis in Labradors is actually very common. This is in part due to the fact that they are a larger breed of dog. Their joints go through more wear and tear over time than smaller dog breeds. German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, Mastiffs and Great Danes also have high rates of arthritis.

Types of canine arthritis

There are 4 different types of arthritis that are most common to dogs. These are primarily identified by their root causes.

What are some other triggers apart from those mentioned above? Bruises or blows to the joints, infections, changes in the dog’s immune system or metabolic problems can also cause arthritis to appear.

The main variants of canine arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint arthritis. This means the progressive deterioration of the cartilage that surrounds joints. It’s linked to advanced age or excess weight.
A very overweight Labrador.

  • Hip dysplasia. A genetic disease that results in a deformation of the hip joint. This type of arthritis produces a misalignment in the hip socket. The disease causes the gradual deterioration of the cartilage around the joint and produces chronic inflammation.
  • Elbow dysplasia. As in the previous case, this disease is due to the elbow joint not developing properly. It is believed to be hereditary. In addition to the typical deterioration of the cartilage that arthritis causes, it can even splinter bones in severe cases. Most cases of arthritis in Labradors are of this type. Elbow dysplasia is common in larger dog breeds.
  • Knee dysplasia. This type of arthritis is also caused by a deformation in the knee joint. However, it usually affects smaller dogs. The clinical term is patellar luxation, or kneecap dislocation.

Treatment of arthritis in Labradors

What can be done once arthritis is diagnosed in a dog? Depending on the type and how far advanced it is, here are some of the possible treatments:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications that will help to alleviate pain.
  • Dietary planning in cases where the dog is overweight or has a metabolic disorder.
  • Dietary supplements to help the joint’s cartilage to regenerate.
  • Surgery to help correct hereditary deformation of joints (dysplasia).
A Labrador at the park.

Prevention of the disease

Arthritis in Labradors can appear naturally with age and because of the animal’s constitution. However, there are certain preventative measures that you can take. These don’t just reduce the probability of the disease appearing. They can also help to lessen the severity of the possible symptoms.

  • Low impact exercises. An active life is always a good idea for a dog’s physical and mental health. It will also help to control your dog’s weight. However, dog owners of breeds that are especially susceptible to arthritis should pay special attention to the type of exercise their dog takes. Make sure that your dog’s joints won’t suffer too much. Long walks are preferable in favor of running or anything that requires jumping.
  • Weight control. Larger dog breeds are more susceptible to obesity. Controlling the quantity of what your dog eats as well as choosing the most appropriate food is essential.
  • Take your dog to the vet for frequent checkups.
  • Giving your dog supplements to help cartilage growth can help improve your dog’s health. You could also consider massages or alternative treatments such as acupuncture or physiotherapy.

Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in Labradors. However, thanks to preventative treatments it may only appear later in your dog’s life. And, of course, it can be effectively managed thanks to close collaboration between you and your vet.

  • Clements, C. (2015). Pet Health Network. Arthritis in Dogs. Recuperado de https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/arthritis-dogs
  • Hernández, E. (S.f). It’s a lab thing. LabMD: Arthritis… becoming more Commonplace. Recuperado de http://itsalabthing.com/labmd-arthritis-becoming-more-commonplace