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Do Labrador Retrievers really Suffer from Degenerative Arthritis?

Degenerative Arthritis in Labrador Retrievers

For many of us, our dogs are the greatest companions. They’re our friends, our shoulder to lean on when we are sad and our adventurous, fun buddies during our best days. They’re our children; when they experience even the slightest cold or have the littlest wound, it is hard for us too. We experience their pain like they experience ours. When our dogs suffer from serious ailments like degenerative arthritis, we will try anything and want to do everything we can to help them.

Among the number of painful and deadly illnesses your dog can be in pain with is degenerative arthritis. This condition is easily passable between generations, or has high genetic loading, which is the reason that certain dog breeds (like Labradors) have greater chances of contracting it than other breeds do. Knowing how to treat degenerative arthritis, why your Lab is prone to it, what it can do to your dog, its symptoms, different ways to assist in treatment, and how to prevent it can be extremely helpful to both you and your dog.


IF your Lab has degenerative arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease) this means that he is suffering from painful chronic inflammation in his joints. The inflammation is caused by the long-term degrading of the joint cartilages. It is a progressive and permanent condition found more commonly in older dogs.


There are many reasons why your Labrador is more prone to this disease than other dogs. Sometimes, previous injuries from accidents play a factor in the development of the disease and contribute to the later progression of degenerative arthritis. If it is going to happen, it is usual for this condition shows up later in a dog’s life. When the dog reaches old age, the long-term friction caused by physical activity and possible over-activeness can catch up with him. As you well know, Labradors are extremely active dogs and this could be the cause of later issues.

Your dog’s weight may have also had a significant role in the development. Dog breeds like Labradors are larger and tend to easily gain weight with inactivity or age. This weight gain can put more pressure on their joints, possibly straining them from having to support the new, heavier load.

However, the largest factor in acquiring this condition for Labradors is that it is passed on genetically. Labradors are prone to degenerative arthritis more than others because it runs in their genetics. If the genetic line of your Labrador includes a case of degenerative arthritis, he is then much more likely to develop the disease.


Degenerative arthritis can be a long-term cause of pain in your Labrador. Treatment will lessen it but it is unlikely your dog will be completely pain free. At first, it may only cause a bit of discomfort. As it progresses, it may become too painful for him to even move if left completely untreated. In the worst cases, some owners have even needed to euthanize their poor Labs to keep them from being in any more pain.

The most common sign in a Labrador suffering from degenerative arthritis is significant slowing of your Labrador’s activeness. If your dog stays in one place for a long time and remains immobile, and this is far out of the ordinary, you should have him checked out. They may also refuse to walk at all, or perhaps have developed an stiff and awkward way of walking around. There may be some physical deformities in the joints. Make sure to check for swelling and these physical deformities in the joints. These symptoms may get worse in cold weather or during exercise. If any of these symptoms arise, take your Lab to the veterinarian before they get any worse.


If your Labrador has been diagnosed with degenerative arthritis, there are a couple of things you can do to take care of him. This condition is almost impossible to treat fully and there is a chance that it will never go away. However, treatments do alleviate these pains and make life much more fun for your dog.

You are able to perform therapy on your Lab like physiotherapy, massage, or cold or hot compresses. These therapies have been tested and help alleviate pain associated with your dog’s movement.

Staying active is good for your Lab, but only light exercises. Physical activities like swimming are perfect for a dog with degenerative arthritis. While your dog should be exercising regularly, it should be very light and very short. Bursts of exercise will keep your dog in good spirits and help with joint pain. You can add this to a nutritious diet to reduce (or control) your dog’s weight and therefore the strain on his joints.

For more severe cases of degenerative arthritis, your Lab can participate in invasive treatments like reconstructive surgeries, joint replacements, and the likes. You can also give your dog anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain, but you need ask your veterinarian before administering any drugs.


It is possible to prevent the disease, even in dogs that are predispositioned for it. Prevention is incredibly important for your Labrador. You can and should trace the lineage of your Lab and check for privous cases of this disease in your dog’s family history. By doing so, you may just be helping him avoid a lifetime of pain and discomfort. Knowing if your dog has a high chance of contracting the disease can help you be prepared for any onset of symptoms. The earlier you catch it, the better it is for your dog.

Giving your Labrador Retriever a nutritious and controlled diet in addition to regular exercises to manage his weight can be a great help for when he is older. Keeping him at a regular weight will minimize joint strain. Exercise will also help your dog grow stronger by keeping his joints active and healthy.

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