Bringing home a Labrador? From exercises to diet tips, here's your complete care guide for a healthy and happy companion - Hindustan Times
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Bringing home a Labrador? From exercises to diet tips, here's your complete care guide for a healthy and happy companion

By, New Delhi
Apr 10, 2024 02:16 PM IST

Here's your go-to Labrador care guide which covers everything from exercise routines to dietary advices, ensuring your furry friend remains healthy and happy.

Bringing a new Labrador puppy into your home can be a remarkable experience. However, it can also be quite overwhelming. Caring for a Labrador puppy requires a commitment similar to raising a human child. However, the rewards are well worth the effort. Not only do families adore Labrador puppies, but this amazing breed is also making its mark in a number of fields as assistance and search and rescue dogs. Labradors are among the most popular family dogs because of their charming, loving personalities. Their distinctive qualities allow them to thrive in a variety of environments and be used as family pets, service dogs or even hunting dogs.

Our comprehensive guide on caring for Labrador puppies, includes tips to prevent physical injuries, simple exercises, and diet tips for a happy and healthy pet.(Unsplash)
Our comprehensive guide on caring for Labrador puppies, includes tips to prevent physical injuries, simple exercises, and diet tips for a happy and healthy pet.(Unsplash)

If you're considering adding this incredible breed to your home but unsure about how to care for them, fret not. HT Lifestyle has reached out to industry experts to provide you with a comprehensive guide. (Also read: Heatwave ahead: Tips to take care of your animal companion during harsh summer )

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Essential Labrador Care Guide for Pet Parents

“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 the early stages, and in some dogs, 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," says Veterinarian Dr Brijeshraj.

Do’s and don’ts to prevent physical injuries

As the growth plates of puppies are not fully fused until they reach full maturity, Dr. Brijeshraj advises on a list of do’s and don’ts to prevent damage to the hips and joints of Labradors.

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

Simple exercises for Labradors

Manjula Engineer, Trainer and Behaviourist further breaks down, simple own 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.

Diet tips for happy and healthy Labrador

On the other hand, Anjali Kalachand provides nutritional and other tips for maintaining a happy and healthy Labrador. Emphasizing the significance of feeding a meat-based species-appropriate diet to all dogs, she highlights its importance particularly for dogs prone to joint issues.

1. Meat protein helps improve the connective tissue and build the muscles which help support the joints.

2. 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

3. 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.

4. Bone broth, is another essential addition to the diet, again it is a rich source of glucosamine, chondroitin, gelatin, hyaluronic acid – all essential for bone and joint health.

5. Joint issues are often associated with inflammation and pain. We also recommended 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

6. My own dog has recently been diagnosed with mild arthritis and both his hips and was presenting with a recurrent limp over a period of a few months before we figured out what the problem was – along with all the above, we also did the following which helped greatly for pain relief:

  • 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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