Back issues with Labradors are common problem. Here are pet care notes by experts - Hindustan Times
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Back issues with Labradors are common problem. Here are pet care notes by experts

ByZarafshan Shiraz
Apr 28, 2024 01:44 PM IST

Check out these common joint and back problems faced by Labradors and expert methods and practises to be followed by new and old pet parents for pain relief

Labradors, known for their active and energetic nature, can experience back issues as they age where problems such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), hip dysplasia and arthritis can affect their back health but worry not as we got you sorted with some expert veterinary tips that can ensure that your pet leads a comfortable and active life. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Veterinarian Dr Brijeshraj shared the common problem seen and faced by Labradors and highlighted a few methods and practises to be followed by new and old pet parents.

Back issues with Labradors are common problem. Here are pet care notes by experts (Photo by Daniel Joshua on Unsplash)
Back issues with Labradors are common problem. Here are pet care notes by experts (Photo by Daniel Joshua on Unsplash)

Creating enough awareness around this highly common issue and educating pet parents will gradually decrease the number of Labradors succumbing to many other prolonged illnesses. He stated, “Due to poor breeding practices, Labradors are predisposed to hip and joint issues. The number of Labradors being diagnosed with hip and joint issues is on the rise. Later on, in life, it is common to see spondylosis/spondylitis which may be a cause of pain, paresis and paralysis. The PennHip method can help diagnose this in early stages, and in some dog’s early surgery is also quite helpful. Alternative treatments also include Tuina Anmo massage combined with acupuncture which gives good results. Bone stock given for a period of 3 months at least also helps.”

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Highlighting that the growth plates of puppies are not fused completely until they are full grown, he suggested a list of do’s and don’ts to be followed, to prevent damage to hips and joints:

1. Allow access for free play on natural surfaces like mud and grass

2. ⁠ No agility at all until at least 6 months of age.

3. ⁠Proprioception exercises are recommended for balance

4. ⁠These obedience position training exercises should be done on a mat.

5. ⁠Fetch should be done on a runner or carpet for traction

6. The puppy should be taught to lie down in a settle position

7. Do not encourage the pup to jump on and off sofas, bed, ledges etc

8. Stairs should be avoided

Manjula Engineer, Trainer and Behaviourist, further broke down, simple weight bearing exercises to help the pup build muscle strength in the hip and back legs -

1. Start with a step that is an inch high. Can be a hardcover book, a plastic upturned tray, etc. Lure the pup to place his front two paws on the step. Holding a treat in front of his nose, let him stand for about 5 seconds. Treat and release. Repeat 5 times. This puts weight on his hips and back legs to strengthen them

2. Place the pup in a stand position by holding a treat in front of his nose. With your other hand firmly lift one paw and hold for 5 seconds. Cycle through all four paws lifting one at a time.

3. Placing a treat in front of his nose, lure the pup’s muzzle in a curve to meet his hip. Hold 5 seconds, treat and release. Then repeat on the other side.

4. Place the pup in a sit and lure his face up stretching the neck and again putting weight on his hips.

5. Teach the pup a follow me in a figure eight configuration.

Bringing her expertise to the same, Anjali Kalachand, Co-Founder of A Petter Life, recommended nutritional and other tips to maintain and keep in check a happy and a healthy Labrador. Stressing upon the importance of feeding a meat-based-species-appropriate diet to all dogs, she pointed out why a meat-based diet is important for dogs predisposed to joint issues:

  • Meat protein helps improve the connective tissue and build the muscles which help support the joints.
  • Keeping your dog lean is very important if they are predisposed to joint issues so as to not weigh down the joints with excess weight. This is more easily achieved via fresh meat-based diet, because we have control over ingredients and can easily avoid the starchy carbohydrates present in processed food
  • Did you know that some bones like chicken feet are a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin? Very often, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are administered later in life when dogs are diagnosed with joint issues - feeding a constant source of glucosamine and chondroitin in your pet’s diet can help prevent resorting to these supplements. Therefore, feeding raw meaty bones (these also come in dehydrated format) can help naturally boost your pet’s diet in glucosamine and chondroitin, which are essential to joint health.
  • Bone broth, is another essential addition to the diet, again it is a rich source of glucosamine, chondroitin, gelatin, hyauluronic acid – all essential for bone and joint health.

According to her, joint issues are often associated with inflammation and pain hence, she suggested feeding foods and adding herbs/spices that have natural anti-inflammatory benefits -

  • Golden Paste (this is turmeric powder, cooked with water, where cold pressed coconut oil and pepper are added later so that the turmeric is more bioavailable and activated to be absorbed by the body).
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids – feeding fish paste using small fatty fish like anchovies, sardines and mackerel (on a daily basis) helps boost the omega 3 fatty acid content of the meal – fish oil is also a potent source of omega 3 fatty acids – we recommend using both for best results with inflammation reduction and pain relief.
  • CBD oil both orally and topically helps to a great extent to achieve pain relief

Other menthods that can greatly help with pain relief include:

  • Epsom salt soaks proven to help with joint and muscle ache relief (I used ½ tsp in 500 ml of warm water)
  • Massage with topical CBD
  • Hot compress

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