Labrador Retriever Skin Problems – Dog Hair Loss (Alopecia) and Other Skin Problems

Labrador Retriever’s are as close to a perfect breed as you can get. Great temperament, easily trainable, and minimal health problems are all great features of labs.

Labs typically do not have a great deal of skin problems, but are susceptible to hair loss (alopecia). Here is a list of common issues that cause hair loss in Labradors.

Common Labrador Retriever Skin Problems

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis
    I cover flea related issues and treatment my article "Dog Hair Loss (Allopecia) – Reasons Why Dogs Lose Hair and How To Treat Dog Hair Loss"
  • Lick granuloma
    Lick Granuloma is a terrible skin problem caused by the constant licking of a sore by your dog. I thought about writing an entire article on this, but there is an article over on The Pet Center that is very complete.
  • Hypothyroid related Alopecia
    Better known as Hypothyroidism, symptoms include hair loss, mainly of each flank (the sides between the front and rear leg), dry skin, weight gain, and lethargy. Your vet can test for thyroid problems using simple blood tests, and treatment includes the use of thyroid hormone replacement. The good news is that treatment is very effective, and improvements in health and behavior tend to show up quickly.
  • Hot Spots and Dandruff
    There can be many causes for hot spots and dandruff. I typically recommend that people try a good fish oil supplement and a yeast treatment before taking their dog to the vet.

Non-Skin Problem Related Labrador Retriever Health Issues

  • Canine Hip Dysplasia
    Hip dysplasia is a skeletal problem in which the head of the femur doesn’t mesh well with the pelvic socket. It is possible for a dog to have hip dysplasia and not show symptoms. However, once the symptoms appear they are very dramatic. The pain causes lameness in one or both of the rear legs. Chronic arthritis typically develops as this disease progresses.
  • Cataracts 
    Dogs can get cataracts just like humans, and this is more common in labs. Fortunately, they can be surgically removed with little side effects.
  • Elbow Dysplasia
    Like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is caused by development problems in the joint. It typically leads to arthritis and sometimes to OCD (see below). There are surgical treatments available for elbow dysplasia, but I recommend you see a specialist in this area rather than your regular vet.
  • Gastric Torsion
    Caused by a twisting of the stomach, gastric torsion traps the stomach contents and gases causing a rapid swelling of the abdomen. This results in extreme pain and eventual death if left untreated. If your dog displays extreme pain in the stomach area, this is a 911 emergency. You must take your dog to a 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic for treatment immediately.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)
    OCD is a degenerative condition occurring in the bone which underlies the cartilage layer of joints. OCD onset is most common when large breed dogs go through a large growth spurt, and typically occurs in the shoulder, ankle, or elbow joints. If your puppy has just gone through a growth spurt and appears to be limping for no good reason, it is possibly caused by OCD. Your veterinarian can recommend the best treatment, but rest and proper nutrition can help.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
    As the name implies, this is a progressive deteriorating of the retina, leading to night blindness, and eventually complete blindness. Your vet can identify PRA via electroretinogram (ERG), or by using a retinoscopic exam

Dog First Aid

You never know when an emergency may occur, and knowing a bit of first aid and having a first aid kit ready for your dog might just save their life. Here’s a guide I wrote about dog first aid.

More Information

Since there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of reasons why your labrador may experience hair loss, it is well beyond the scope of this article to cover each and every one. I will cover some of the most common reasons here, but if you do not find what you are looking for, please take a moment to sign up for our dog health news letter. I cover many more causes of hair loss, as well as many other health issues your dog may have.

My goal is to teach you when you need to take your dog to the vet, and when you don’t. Of course, I’ll be recommending some products (read – advertising), but I promise to provide you with valuable information such as you will read in this article.

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