Rapid growth in a puppy is known to cause skeletal problems. Slower body growth over the first 18 months of a puppies life will mean better vital organ and skeletal health. So make sure you keep your puppy slim, with an obvious waist. I recommend you check out the ‘Hills Body Fat Index’. Don’t over feed your puppy. And don’t feed them off the table. A premium dog food like Eukanube, Hills or Royal Canin are scientifically balanced diets. A cheap food is a false economy. You’ll pay 1/2 and use twice as much. And your vet bills will be higher.
There is categorical evidence that shows desexing / neutering is a major contributor to a number of health issues including dysplasia, skin and vital organ problems.
Studies in the USA have found that the incidence of dysplasia in male dogs desexed early in life was double that of male dogs left intact. I do not recommend desexing male labradors but this may not be practical in an urban area. Please don’t desex a male dog under 18mths. And allow your female labrador to have her first heat at approximately 12 months. Your labrador must be physically mature enough to compensate for the impact of hormone loss on their joint & vital organ development.
As far as exercising your labrador puppy is concerned, the first and critical consideration is the impact upon their ‘growth plates’.
Growth plates are soft cartilage areas at the ends of long bones in puppies & young dogs. The cells divide, allowing the bones to grow and lengthen. And this continues until the end of puberty. Growth plates narrow as hormonal changes occur to sexual maturity at approx 14-18 months of age.
It is a sensible precaution to carry your puppy up and down steps to avoid placing load on their growth plates. Puppies climbing stairs at an early age are more likely to develop dysplasia.
The most common cause of growth plate and soft tissue injury is repetitive exercise with a young puppy before 18 months. Long walks and extended running are definitely a problem. A puppies free-play sessions achieve appropriate exercise needs. I like to exercise my dogs from 8 weeks of age with ‘Dog Obedience Training’. This provides an age appropriate level of physical exercise and an abundance of mental stimulation. And of course, i’m bonding all the more with my labrador.
It is critical that you don’t teach or encourage your dog to jump until their growth plates have set and they have stopped growing. For a labrador, this is at 14 -18. With labrador puppies, it can be tempting to exercise them to burn their energy and tire them without giving due consideration to the impact on their growth plates.
Please don’t take your puppy jogging with you. Delay those agility classes. And no frisbees yet. Puppies love running and moving to the point of exhaustion so limit the time and control the type of activity they engage in. Be careful with high impact activities on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete. Grass is softer and has better traction.
Hormones have the significant role in a puppy’s growth plates, skeletal and vital organ development.
With labradors, growth plates close when a dog is 14 to 18 months old. If your dog is not prematurely desexed then this will occur with the appropriate level of sex hormone. Male and female sex hormones play the key role in the development and closure of bone growth plates. If a dog is desexed prior to puberty, there is a delay in the closing process. Delay desexing larger dog breeds like labradors. This will significantly reduce the incidence of these orthopedic skeletal & vital organ conditions.
David’s Weekly Blog 13/7/19 www.pawlinglabs.com