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Pet Insurance for Labradors (Labrador Retrievers): Things To Consider

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Golden, Black, Brown or White…Why You Need the Best Pet Insurance for your Labrador.

Whatever your colour preference, the name says it all: Labr-adore!

The waggy, every-hungry, hoover-matic dog that is the Labrador, is Britain’s most pup-ular breed… and with good reason. But these cuddly characters are also accident prone, with an outsized appetite often landing them in trouble. To and help you sleep at night (and protect your wallet from those misdemeanours!) then pet insurance for your Labrador is a must.

Not a Labrador at All!

Did you know, arguably the breed shouldn’t be called ‘Labrador’ at all?

They originate from south of Labrador, in Newfoundland and were originally called the St John’s dogs after the capital city.

And whilst we’re talking trivia, the breed nearly went extinct in the 1880’s. In Newfoundland, a tax on female dogs meant breeding Labradors became prohibitively expensive. Happily, the breed had made it to Victorian England where they were already pup-ular, which ensured their survival.

But do you know the Labrador has more than their fair share of health problems? Let’s look at what this means for your pet.

Conditions and Costs of Common Medical Treatment for Labradors





Hip and / or elbow dysplasia

Debiliating and lameness

Pain relief through to joint replacement surgery

£50 / month for pain relief through to £5,000+ for a new hip

Fluid around the heart 

(Pericardial effusion)

Shortness of breath, weakness, and collapse

Surgery to remove the sac (pericardium) from around the heart

Specialist surgery running into several thousand pounds

Obsessive licking (Lick granulomas)

Compulsive licking of a leg leading to open sores

Medication to reduce the tingle and treat secondary infections

Multiple consultations £25-45, medications £30-120 / month

Allergic skin disease

Excessive scratching leading to red, sore skin

Options range from cheap and cheerful steroids to state of the art immunotherapy or costly modern anti-inflammatory medication

Steroids from just £16 a month. Immunotherapy vaccine £500 to develop

Infected feet (pododermatitis)

A swollen paw seeping pus that responds poorly to antibiotics

Can be difficult to treat, requiring numerous antibiotics courses

Some dogs require antibiotics for weeks at a cost of hundreds of pounds

Cushing’s disease

Potbelly, lack of energy, thirst

Long term medication

Vetoryl tablets £2/ + cost of monitoring bloods £150 each

Portosystemic (liver) shunts

Seizures, mental confusion and poor weight gain in young dogs

Surgical correction

Specialist surgery £4,000 +

Cruciate rupture

Marked hind leg lameness

Surgical correction

TPLO procedure from £3,000

Mast cell tumours

Skin lumps

Surgical removal, possibly with long term meds

Surgery cost depends on size and location. Meds around £3-4 a day

Laryngeal paralysis

Noisy breathing Surgical correction

Surgical correction

Laryngeal tie back £1,500 – 4,000

Gut obstruction

Vomiting, dehydration, collapse

Surgical removal


See why you sleep better when your Labrador is insured? Let’s look in more detail at some of the Labrador problems vets see every day.

Skin Allergies

Itchy and scratchy! Not great news, especially if the dog sleeps on your bed.

Despite their roughy-toughy appearance, Labradors have delicate skins. They are pawticularly prone to allergic skin disease and over-react to pollen, grass sap, and house dust mites.

The typical dog licks himself raw, scratches himself into open sores, and gets lots of skin infections. Worse is to come because allergies get worse, year-on-year, which means no respite in the future.

Options for treatment include:

  • Keeping the dog away from the allergen – Tricky when it’s grass that sets him off!
  • Steroids: Cheap and effective but with side effects such as weight gain and thirst.
  • Cyclosporine or oclanitab: Modern anti-inflammatory drugs that are highly effective with few side effects…but with a price tag to match.
  • Immunotherapy vaccines: Exposing the dog to ever increasing doses of allergen can help switch off the exaggerated immune response.

Lameness Problems

Labradors are energetic dogs and not being able (or allowed) to run leads to boredom and frustration…and then there’s the pain.

Labradors are martyrs to their legs with problems including:

  • Osteochondrosis dessicans (OCD): A problem with the cartilage lining of growing joints in puppies
  • Dysplasia: A poor shape to the hips or elbows which leads to pain and premature arthritis
  • Cruciate disease: Ruptured cruciates are common. Without correction the dog doesn’t walk on the leg and the knee develops early arthritis.

Modern orthopaedic surgery can do wonders, but there’s no denying it’s expensive. However, when you have pet insurance for your Labrador then all options are open to you.

Bowel Blockages

The Labradors love of food is legendary…but this can end in tears. Labradors chew and swallow all sorts of things they shouldn’t, which then cause a blockage in the gut. This can be life-threatening and urgent surgery to remove the foreign body is costly.

Some Labradors are so addicted to eating rubbish that they need to wear a muzzle for their own protection. Where keeping the dog under constant supervision isn’t possible then insuring your dog gives you peace of mind.

Porto-systemic Shunts in Puppies

Unfortunately, Labradors are over-represented when it comes to having a liver shunt. In the womb a puppy has a blood vessel which shunts blood past the liver. A porto-systemic shunt (PSS) is the failure of a blood vessel to close when the puppy is born.

The PSS means the dog’s liver is poorly supplied with blood, so it’s unable to do its job of detoxing the blood. Typically the puppy may seem spaced out or even drunk, especially after eating. Over time this can lead to seizures and coma.

Thankfully, surgical correction is often possible. But…and it’s a big but…this is expensive, specialist surgery, with a large price tag attached. For this reason, a dog is never too young to be covered by pet insurance.

Pericardial Effusion

This is an unusual form of heart disease, but unhappily it’s linked to Labradors.

The heart is protected within a tough sac called the pericardium. The pericardium can’t stretch, so if fluid builds up inside it, the heart becomes squashed and compressed. With the heart not being able to pump properly, the patient collapses easily and is breathless.

The gold standard treatment is for the pericardium to be surgically stripped away from the heart, so the latter is no longer squashed. This is highly successful surgery but as you would expect it needs a specialist’s touch, with all the expense this involves.

Pet Insurance for Labrador Puppies

An active, inquisitive puppy combined with an insatiable appetite, is a recipe for swallowing a stone or toy that gets stuck in the gut. For this reason alone pet insurance is worth its weight in gold!

Taking out pet insurance as soon as you have their ID chip number. This protects you from the cost of all kinds of puppy-hood misdemeanours such as tummy upsets, broken bones, cuts, and parasitic infections (from swallowed poop!)

Pet Insurance for Older Labradors

Many insurers won’t start cover for dogs older than seven years. However, when you take out a policy in the dog’s younger years and keep this current, the dog will be insured into older age.

Remember, Good Pet Insurance for Labradors is Important

Everything about Labradors is larger-than-life; including the cost of medication should they become sick. Their larger size means higher doses of costly medications, which mount up over time.

Your Labrador is a much-loved member of the family. By taking out pet insurance this enables you to decide on the treatment that’s best for your pet, rather than the depth of your pocket.

If you like the idea of insuring your Labrador but are hazy on what to look out for, then check out our: No Nonsense Guide to Finding the Best Pet Insurance for Dogs

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