Labrador Health

labrador-healthMaking sure that your Labrador stays in great health throughout his  lifetime is one of your top priorities.

Keeping your Labrador healthy

We have gathered lots of information to help you keep your Lab in tip-top condition.   In this section of the Labrador site you can find sections on:

Check out our health category Here you’ll find a collection of all our articles on Labrador health articles displayed one one page.  They cover a wide range of health topics. You can also find articles on Fears and Phobias,  and on other behavioral problems in our Labrador Behavior section.

What to do when your Labrador is sick

We get many questions on this website from people whose dogs are sick or injured. We are always so sorry to read about dogs that are unwell. People send in their dog’s symptoms and most often ask about

  • Vomiting and tummy troubles
  • Limping
  • Hair loss / falling out
  • Failure to grow/thrive
  • Rashes

While we can provide information about different conditions that Labradors may suffer from, it isn’t possible for anyone, no matter how well qualified, to attempt to diagnose health problems over the internet. Usually, the best course of action is for you to visit or telephone your own veterinary surgeon.  It is especially important to seek help without delay, when a very young puppy is sick.

When to call the vet

Quite a lot of the puppy questions people ask us, are about puppies that need to be examined by a qualified vet. But it can be difficult for new puppy owners to know exactly when  to call the vet. And when to wait a while to see if the pup improves on his own For this reason, I am posting up some guidelines as to what is normal for an eight week old puppy,  and what might suggest that you need to take your puppy to your local vet.

Normal for puppies

A healthy Labrador puppy sleeps deeply but is lively when awake. He smells lovely, has clean ears and eyes, and pees often (eg at hourly intervals or more frequently) during the day.

When to call the vet to your puppyHe eats hungrily, and may have several bowel movements between waking up and bedtime. Many Labrador puppies cannot last more than four or five hours at night without a wee or a poo. Upset tummies are common in new puppies after rehoming, but need to be taken seriously as small puppies can get dehydrated very quickly.

Puppies bite very hard (it hurts) and growl fiercely while playing.  This is not aggression.

All the above is normal.   The following is not normal

Not normal for puppies

  • Call your vet if your puppy seems listless, won’t eat, has persistent diarrhoea, is sick more than once within 48 hours, or twice in a week.
  • Call your vet if your puppy swallows anything you think may harm him, cries for no apparent reason or in an unusual way.
  • Call your vet if your puppy’s breathing is noisy or laboured.
  • Call your vet if he drags one of his limbs, is unsteady on his feet, or seems to be limping.  Call your vet if your puppy has a discharge from any part of his body.
  • Call your vet if your puppy cuts himself, falls badly, or just seems generally off colour.

If in doubt, call your vet!

Puppies under eight weeks old

Very young puppies need special care, and puppies under eight weeks old need to be with their brothers and sisters. We strongly recommend that you do not purchase a puppy that is less than eight weeks old. We cannot advise you on feeding underage puppies, you do need to get this information from your vet or from a very experienced dog breeder.

More information

There are lots of articles on puppy care in the puppy sections that are listed on the main puppy page.  You’ll find this link on the menu bar at the top of every page on this site. We do try and answer as many of your questions as possible but will always give priority to topics that are not covered in the articles that are already on the website.

My vet isn’t helping

Sometimes people write in because they are not happy with their vet’s diagnosis or prescription. The answer is almost always to go back to your vet and talk to him about your concerns, or to get a second opinion.

Going back to your vet

Some vets, while brilliant with animals are not the greatest communicators with people. If your vet has not clearly explained his diagnosis (what is wrong with your dog) his prognosis (what he thinks will happen next) or his recommended treatment.  Get him to spell it out for you.  You are entitled to this information!  In plain English.

It is very common to leave a vet’s office or surgery, get home with your dog, and think of a whole load of questions you wish you had asked.  This is normal. We do it when we go to the doctor too.

Many people fail to make use of telephone consultations with their vet.  You don’t need to go to your veterinarian’s office in order to speak to him.   If you have questions to ask, or points that need clarifying, write them down and telephone him.  If he isnt available ask him to phone you back.  Many vets will do this free of charge provded you don’t make a constant habit of it.

Getting a second opinion

Even experts disagree sometimes, they are only human.  And we can’t all get on really well with everyone we meet. I think it is important that we have a good relationship with out vets, and that we understand what is going on when they treat our pets.

If your vet is a poor communicator, you are concerned about the treatment he has prescribed for your dog, or you simply don’t get along, there is nothing wrong with getting another opinion. In fact, it is the right thing to do.

Many people are not aware, that in the UK it is also illegal for anyone other than a qualified veterinary surgeon to diagnose or even recommend treatment for, anyone else’s animals. Any health information given on this website should be used in  conjunction with veterinary advice.

We are adding to our library all the time.  Let us know if there are any other topics you would like us to cover.   We love to hear from you!


  1. Hi I have a chocolate lab that I adopted about 4 yrs ago. In the last 2 years She wants to lick her legs a lot. Last yr. She had to have a place removed from where she was licking. In Oct this year she had to have surgery again on another leg. Her dr thinks it her soothing method but I am not so sure… Do you have any ideas. She is very well taken care of so there are no signs of skin problems

    • Hi we have a 14 month old golden lab who licked and chewed his paws all the time took him to the vet and found out that he has severe allergies hope this help

  2. hi
    my lab is 9 month old . she had her first season and its still going on. she is not eating her food i.e. royal canin and any other food.
    she is happy to eat treats and chicken , eggs. bt sm times too moddy. there is also a foul smell in her urine and hair loss. pls guide as its my first time to have a dog.

  3. Hi poppa my 4year old black lab Darcy seems to have one problem after another firstly his ears keep getting infected then anal gland now has been biting his tail when I looked I was really shocked as his tail has got sore scabs on it he is on quill 1 daily and often has diarrhoea I’m taking him back to the vet tomorrow but feel there really not doing anything to make him better we live in a rural area as there is only 2 vets any help please

  4. Hi, I have an 18 month old black Labrador who is very energetic, after exercise she hacks/gags but is otherwise her usual happy self. Nothing normally comes up but she also hacks when drinking water from a running tap and sometimes a bit of foamy water will come up? We are taking her to the vet but wondered if you had any idea what may be causing it? Thank you

  5. My 13 week lab is coughing like something is stuck in her thoart, vet gave medication saying it’s a kennel cough but still hasn’t gone away any advice?

  6. My lab puppy keeps scratching he has been to the vets who said he had a bacterial infection. He was given an injection and some antibiotics but he is still scratching I am wondering if I should change his food but do not know what to put him on he is on more puppy food Any suggestions would be gratefully received

  7. Hello,
    I boughg a lab puppie which is 58 days old n unknowingly we feed him milk from tetra pack it had all the milk first day v bought it to our home and the very next day it vomited all d milk n refused to drink milk or anything. It is active even now but looks week am worried pls help me out

  8. Hi my 5year old male black lab Harley was out exercising last week and collapsed three times on the walk home. He recovered after some rest and cool water. Since he has been quite lethargic as he doesn’t really have the energy to fetch ball. We recently (2 months ) moved to the countryside and my wife retired so the dogs get more walks but he has lost a fair amount of weight. We thought it was the extra walking. Any ideas.

    • Hi John, I hope you found a remedy for your lab. Mine had similar symptoms and it was heat stoke. While playing, her limbs would go weak and she would collapse (but still wanted to play). When rushed to the vet her body temp was dangerously high. She’s 13 now and we monitor her temp by flipping her ear and putting the inside of it against our cheek. If it’s hot we stop playing. If she shows signs of heat stoke, wobbling legs, etc. she gets an ice bath. (Which she also loves). I hope this helps and best wishes to you & your Lab! Enjoy the adventures!

      • Hi guys o have a 1.5 year old black lab that has had the same problem since she was about 6 months. One get told us it was a heat stroke and we came dangerously close to losing her. I brought her to a different get after I did some reading online and found out it is a genetic disease called exercise induced collapse. The university of Minnesota has just found out what was happening to all these dogs in the past couple years and they now have a DNA test you can send them to find out for sure if that’s what it is. Apparently most beta don’t even really know about it so I just thought I would mention it. It’s worth looking into.

    • Hi Tony, There are lots of possible causes for limping in dogs. Please pop down the the vet with your Lab. They are the best person to give you a diagnosis and to help you find the best way forward for your Labrador. Best wishes, Lucy.

  9. Hi, I have a year and 7 months old black Labrador. One morning I noticed he isn’t his usual energetic self. So I checked his temp and was shocked to discover it’s at 102. I called the vet and was advised to bring in my dog to be given medicine which the I did. After that, my dog went back to his energetic self but what I am worried about is that the next morning, his fever is back. I brought him back to the vet and the same med was given and he’s well again. The next morning however, the same case. I even consulted another vet and he’s been given medicine and got well again.

    I am very worried now that my dog is not getting well permanently. What should I do?

    • Hi Ruth, I am sorry to hear that your Lab is repeatedly becoming unwell. I am afraid that the best people to assess him really are vets. If you are unhappy with the opinions you have had so far, then it’s fine to look for further veterinary advice from another practice. Try and get them to write down for you exactly why they think it is happening and what the prognosis is, so that you can better understand why he is getting ill and what is making him better. I hope he feels better soon! Lucy

  10. Hi

    my one and half year old lab is getting fever from last 30 days. he was given medicine than he was ok..aftet 10 days again he got fever tahn we did blood test and report got infection in liver and less count of red palates. The vet gave the medice and he was fine from last 10 days again today he has a fever 105. The vet has given injection to him. but now I am getting very tense about his condition.
    There is no vomit. no excessive hair fall. He is energetic and playfull even in this condition. what else steps we have to take. Do we need to visit anothet vet for second opinion.

  11. Our 9year old black lab Alfie has suddenly started waking at night barking very loudly until we go down stairs to see him we let him out and he comes back in but an hour later he will be barking again he sometimes seems like he is too hot and other times I wonder if it’s for attention I’ve caved in this evening and left the lounge room door open so he can potter about and find a cooler spot to sleep has anyone got any advice on how to get him back into routine please before all the children start back at school and hes waking them up. Thank you Xx

  12. Sir i have a black female labrador she is 7month year old sir my dog. Dog vomiting last 24 hours what we should and she did 7-8 times and still doing
    Plzz sir tell what we should

  13. My 12 month labrador have all this Symptoms
    ♦ Vomiting and tummy troubles
    ♦ Limping
    ♦ Hair loss / falling out
    ♦ Failure to grow/thrive
    ♦ Rashes
    in him what i do i am from india i consult the doctor of animal he said he is normal but i don’t think its normal please give me solution of this .

  14. My4 year old black lab Darcy had an blocked Anil gland vet squeezed an nd got nasty stuff out has been fine until today we took him out in the car it was quite warm came home very lethargic and dragging his behind on the floor worried in case something serious is going on Kirsten higman

    • Hi Kirsten, If you are worried that Darcy is behaving unusually then the best thing to do is to go back to the vet for another checkup. I hope she feels better soon. Best wishes, Lucy.

  15. Hi, I have a 2 year old chocolate Labrador. I came back from work tonight to notice that she is losing hair on her chest/belly area and outer thighs. We never changed he eating habits, still very energetic. Any info that I maybe able to look up to see if it comes close to what it looks like would be greatly appreciate

      • Hair loss is sometimes the result of an allergy, to a flea bite for example. But it can be caused by something more serious. So if your dog isn’t scratching, or if you have treated your dog successfully for fleas and the bald patches are not growing back, you need to have your dog checked by a vet.

  16. hi, i have a 3 months old yellow labrador puppy anx recebtly he has developed hygroma on his elbow. we took him to a vet and he drained the fluid out but swelling has not disappeared yet. My labra doesn’t rest on couches or carpet but likes sleeping on hard floor.

    Please advice as we are worried.

  17. i Just noticed my 12 year old yellow lab’s tongue has black patches on it and she has never had that before. Has anyone heard of something like this before?

  18. Our 11 month old chocolate lab appears to have kennel cough despite being vaccinated. We are taking her to the vet this afternoon to confirm and see what can be done to get her over this and to prevent this from happening again the future. We know where she picked this up. We put her in doggie day care 6 days ago where apparently they had a sick dog and didn’t know or didn’t tell. Moving on does any one have any suggestions other than being vaccinated to help prevent this from happening again. Oh this doggie day care was not our normal kennel. They don’t do doggie care only overnight boarding. I have been giving her a mixture of honey and lemon in warm water to help ease the cough and started today to put coconut oil on her food.

    • Kennel cough must be bad about….My labs have had the Kennel Cough vaccine…(nose)..and when my yellow lab started couching..I thought it was because she had just had her KC vaccine…but since then it has gone to the other four…they have been kept away from Parks…the last time a lab of mine had KC..was over 12 years…so there sounds like an outbreak..

  19. I have raised Labs & Shepherds for 30 yrs and my Kennel job is a lot easier when i can download thelabradorsite information. Thanks alot. Liberty Kennels

  20. Hi,

    We have a 9 year old fox red labrador who shows enthusiasm for walks but once we get outside the house she wants to stand still or even sit. Once we get her going she walks OK for a bit, but off the lead she often plods along very slowly. If she sees something she wants to chase or we hold up the treat bag, she picks up speed straightway. Then it’s back to a plod. The vet has checked her out and says that she is in good shape apart from a little spondylosis for which she has had laser treatment. Can’t work out whether she is in pain, or aching a lot or whether she’s just bored with her walks. We live in the countryside and she does have the benefit of being in fields and off the lead for much of the time. Has anyone experienced anything like this.

  21. Hi I have a11 month old labrador last night my cat scratched his left cheek and this morning his face has swollen up this has never happened before. His right eye is now red and swollen should I take him to the vet. He is his normal happy self though he do sent seem to be in any pain at all. I’m just worried.

  22. I have a 18 months black Male Labrador and is suffering from fever and black stool for a week.Antibiotics had lowered his fever for few days but fever is back again.He has constant mucus near his eyes and hairfall is more.Reddish eyes and diet is low.He is also less on energy.please advice some home remedies.

    • Hi Sanjeeb, Home remedies are not appropriate here – you need to go back to your veterinarian for them to assist you further. I hope that your Labrador feels better soon. Lucy

  23. My choc lab is 9 yrs old, since I retired she never leaves my side. Wherever I go, she goes, recently she just stands there and shakes and pants. I ask her if she wants to go out, but to no avail. Offer all the other things she would want, but no. Don’t know what to do, she ‘s very healthy and in good shape, I worked and lived on an estate on the river, she runs and swims daily. Any help out there?

    • Hi my name is Ken , my wife mara and I are having the exact same problem with our yellow lab of approx 7 yrs old . We recused Max from our neighborhood shelter about three years ago…. Could not ask for a better companion, he s being great. Have you found anything out ….?

  24. Hi I have 8 year old choc labrador named milan.He has hairfall seasonally such a extent that sometimes it leaves a round patch.we visited the vet .its due to ringworm which is causing hairfall & dandruff.we comb his hair daily. We can see clotted dandruff espically back & near neck.
    Now we started giving him oats with has prescribed medications.after dosage its reoccurs seasonally.during this time he keeps licking his paws & sometimes he bites the dandruff ridden area.
    Milan is everthing for us.kindly suggest.

  25. Hi there

    I have a labrador named spot who has been living with my mothet for the past 4 years. He is 4 years old. A week ago he moved to stay with me. He is a very energetic dog but the past three days he has not been eating but drinks water intensively. Then a very little while after he had drank the water he throws it all up… at first i thought i was tensio. Of the move or he is just drinking to fast but its becoming a regular think. Especially during night times.

    He is my everything and i would really appreciate if someone could give me some advice.


    • Hi Danelle, Although these symptoms could be as a result of the stress of moving, they could also be a sign of something more serious. I therefore highly recommend visiting your veterinarian at your earliest convenience to be on the safe side. I hope Spot feels better soon. Lucy.

  26. Hello,
    Question,,I have a white lab,6 years old..he has hair loss on his back,,in patches..don’t think it’s ring worm,
    He is shared in a divorce and I’m not around him every day,so I have no idea what he gets around with the other person..I take very good care of him when I have him with me…he’s like a child to me..can you give me any help.

  27. My 18 month old Labrador has low energy. She doesn’t seem to get excited about anything other than food. She’ll just stand around in the yard eating grass or laying around when inside. She gets an hour walk (or play at the dog park) every day and her routine hasn’t changed. She had trouble about 5 months ago with repeated diarrohea and is now on Royal Canin annallergic which has fixed the problem. The vet says she is healthy and it’s just her temperament but she doesn’t seem happy to me. She used to play all the time with me and now acts like a 10 year old lab rather than a puppy. I think that maybe she’s isn’t getting what she needs from her food or is feeling ill. Not sure what to do. Any ideas?

    • Hi
      I have a 8 week old Labrador. He is falling sick these days(summer is here). He has been sick from 2 days and it’s 2nd time in last 3 weeks.. I am really worried. He gets fever quickly nd his body remains warm. Although his diet is proper he is eating well nd excretion is also proper. He too sometimes get acidity but after medication he starts up eating but the only problem is that he fall sick nd a bit weak nd lazy often these days.
      What should I do?
      Plz reply

  28. My new Lab pup hurt some soft tissue in her left wrist and one is bent to the left. She g as been secluded to her crate for 7 were so far. She now were a cone around her neck 80% of the time. And a cast on her leg and h as to bhai e confined to her crate for another 6 weeks. She has kept figuring g home to open the cone no matter what we do, so my husband used nuts, washers and locking screws and finally s h e can’t eat t th e cast off. I’m so worried w h at this will do to her mental outcome. S h e is also on sedatives to stop her from bouncing ing around her crate. I take her cone off and hold her on the couch with a pillow over her cast and love her up and give her things to chew on because she’s teething. Does anyone ha v e any suggestions to help my sweet little girl get through this and still turn out to be a happy, healthy dog?

  29. Hi pipa I have a black lab who is one year old and he is losing fur around his hip area we have had him with the vet she gave him a few injections thought it was his anenal glans or mites so she did him for that as well we have had him back as its getting worse and this vet at same practice said she thought he was bored gave him same treatment again for fleas ex for four more weeks and said come back if this doesn’t help have you any advice you can give us please
    Many thanks

    • Hello,

      I have a yellow lab who was losing his hair around his hind end. We took to the vet thought it was allergic reaction to something and he got injections, thought it was fleas even though none were found, had him groomed and put flea stuff on him. Finally we decided to slowly change his food over to a grans free food and have not had anymore problems with hair loss. I hope this helps.


  30. Hello my black lab is about eight to ten years old and I’ve took care of him since he was a pup. He is(extremely energetic) he play fetch non stop all day at times, and he eats a bowl full of dog food twice a day and is very healthy abut about the beginning of this month he has been wanting me to pet him more than usual which I thought was only because he is becoming more loving but than yesterday night and today he has been extremely loving and didn’t eat anything really. He hasn’t touched his food ,maybe about two tiny bites but that’s all. Please respond on what I should do and is the playfulness somewhat playing and effect on why he isn’t eating. This concern me very much.

  31. my 1 year old Labrador eating normally and his temperature is normal he was not suffering from fever but he is vomiting 2 to 3 times in 24 hours it happened for last 1 week. plz help me and suggest me what I do?

  32. Hi all,
    Hoping to get some insight. I have a 5yr old male white lab…every few months he starts vomitting for unknown reasons. We’ve taken him to the vet repeatedly – run the gammet of blood work etc & nothing vet comes back. They always chalk it up to he got into something (yes that is feasible though not probable in all cases).
    Also sometimes like just now he was running & rough housing with his sister when became over tired(panting etc). We stopped play immediately it when we got home he started rolling around like he was in pain/was going to puke (couldn’t seem to get comfortable). We couldn’t get through to the vet but now he’s acting ok. So weird – has anyone else seen this?

  33. If I wore you, I would go to my a vet. I had a Chocalate lab and he was loosing his fur, so we took him to the vet and he was all better.

  34. Hai, My 6 months old lab his weight is only 30Lbs how how can improve his weight, i also giving multi vetamin tab pls. help me.

  35. I have a 4 month old Chocolate Labrador and he out of the blue started regurgitating and vomiting. I can’t figure out why. He is not eating and just sleeping off and on. I touch his tummy and he is not warm. What should I do, I don’t want to take him to the vet yet it has only been a few hours.

  36. Hi My 37 days age lab he getting dull today and even he not taking proper food on today unfortunately.
    He keep on sleeping and dull faces. Kindly help me to releaf from this.

  37. Hi,
    Yesterday my friend got a lab from the street, the dog’s leg was little broken and have injury on his forehead. I think because of some accident. My friend took him to the vet, he gave a cream and has covered his wound. Now , i have decided to keep him with me. But i dont have a bit of knowledge about dogs. From caring to feeding. Can you help me out. I am really confused about keeping him.

    • Labs are one of the best dogs you’ll ever own! Great temperament, great with kids and just loving.

      As for care, GE a complete work up from the vet – spay or neutering, vaccines etc.

      The vet will be a great resource for you in terms of care. He she will advise you on many things.

      Also, Labs love to eat!! They’d eat all day if you let them. I mix all dry kibble with either a bit of wet dog food or other things – canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), plain yogurt (no artificial sweeteners), most veggies like cooked potato (never raw), carrots, cucumber, broccoli etc.

      Things NEVER to give your Lab are onions, chocolate, raisins/grapes as they can make him/her very sick.

      There are also tons of resources on the Internet 🙂

      Have fun with your new family member!!

  38. Hi i have a lab which is 10 months old and lately is being suffering from itching and hair fall, also his health is deteroriating eventually. As per vets i have used all sort of medicines and changed the food habbits accordingly but once the meds stop its recurs again. Please help with some suggestion regarding this problem

    • Hi Soum, I think it would be a good idea to go back to your vet and ask him why he thinks the problem is recurring, what he thinks the underlying cause is, and whether he thinks your dog will need to be on medication for the rest of his life, or if he thinks the dog can be cured. Good luck with his treatment.

  39. What is the best way to handle a cut pad on a lab’s paw? We have gone the sedation / stitches / bandage route and are not sure the aggravation with the cone ( she hates it!) and keeping her from chewing on the bandage are worth it. Suggestions? Alternatives?

  40. I have a lab who is a little over a year. Her name is AnnaBeth, a couple of weeks ago, I realized she was straining to use the bathroom (number 2) she ate some grass, got sick and was fine. Like I said, it’s been a couple of weeks and its happening again. Help? Should I take her to the vet, or should I change food? If so, I’m looking for something that is good for her and inexpensive. Thank You.

  41. Can a lab puppy be switched to vegan at his initial stage after having non veg? Where..can we assure that he would never have non veg at later stage??

  42. I have a black female labradore 6yr old. She’s not eating anything it’s been 2days, took her to vet he told that she has fever of 105degree gave her injection yesterday and today but she’s getting more ill.
    not eating anything vomitting and doing poo all over the home, can’t even walk coz of low energy and stinking. I don’t know what to do someone please help me asap, It’s urgent

  43. is roti, fruit, vegetables are not good for labrador when their hairs are falling? can u plzzz help me??