Labrador Retrievers are thought of by many as one of the easiest breeds to own. It’s one of the reasons they are so popular! They don’t take a lot of grooming, they are overall an easy-going breed that likes other people and dogs, and they seem to enjoy training. But that doesn’t mean there are not things that all Lab owners should keep in mind. The following are 5 mistakes Lab owners make that can affect their dog’s health and happiness.
#1 – Not Getting Hips Tested Early
Regardless of whether you got your Lab from a breeder or as a rescue, you should get those hips checked. Often people wait until the dog is already showing signs of discomfort. It’s better to find out early that your Labrador is going to have hip problems. Then, you and your vet can make decisions about what he can and cannot do to limit pain later in life (for example, can he safely do agility?) and what supplements, exercises, etc. will help strengthen his hips.
#2 – No Set Rules
Labrador retrievers, like all dogs, are habitual creatures. This means they do best with a consistent routine and rules. If you keep changing them – for instance he is allowed on the couch one month and not allowed on it the next – your dog will end up confused and may even shut down and stop trying if he always gets things wrong.
#3 – Too Many Treats
Labrador retrievers gain weight easily and they LOVE food, which is a bad combination when paired with well-meaning owners that like to spoil. But too many treats leads to all kinds of health problems, so remember that your Lab should only be getting about 10 percent of his diet in treats.
#4 – Give Dogs Human Medications Without A Vet’s Approval
This can result in a hefty vet bill and even the loss of your Labrador Retriever. In fact, over-the-counter human medications is number 1 in the ASPCA’s top list of toxins and human prescription medications is number 2, according to cases handled by their Animal Poison Control Center. While many of these are accidental poisonings, it’s important to remember human medication is dangerous to your Lab and you should not be giving it her unless directed by a vet.
#5 – Not Cleaning Those Ears
Because of their short coat, many people think of Labs as being almost groom-free, just needing the occasional bath. But those floppy ears are notorious for getting things in them, like burrs and even plain water, which can cause infections. Be sure you are checking your Lab’s ears and cleaning them often to avoid discomfort and vet bills.