Skin Disorders of Labrador Retreivers

Inspect your Lab's coat regularly for early detection of skin problems.
i Jupiterimages/ Images

Skin problems are not a major problem on the whole for Labrador retrievers, although some conditions do occur at a higher rate in Labrador retrievers than other breeds. Your pooch’s skin problem may be a result of one of these diseases, or poor skin may be a symptom of a more general health problem. Assist your vet in making a swift diagnosis by recording the accompanying symptoms and environmental factors.


The thyroid gland is located in your dog’s throat. A deficient thyroid gland that produces insufficient amounts of hormones will cause hypothyroidism. This condition causes the skin to become inflamed and puffy with dark pigmentation. It also results in poor hair regrowth. Other symptoms include weight gain, lethargy and a distinctively puffy facial appearance. Adult labrador retrievers are among the most affected breeds. Your vet may treat this condition with hormone regulating drugs.

Light Responsive Alopecia

A lack of sunlight can cause some Labs to suffer from localized or general hair loss. Light responsive alopecia causes bald patches, typically along your Lab’s flanks. It is most common in dogs that live in regions with long winters. Your vet will take into account the breed of your dog, the region in which you live and the pattern of the hair loss to make a diagnosis. If unsure, the vet may also take a skin sample for further analysis to rule out other causes, such as hypothyroidism. Alopecia doesn’t affect the health of your dog and the hair loss is solely a cosmetic issue.


Seborrhea is an incurable, but treatable disease caused by overproduction of sebum, resulting in a range of skin problems, including oiliness, flakiness and dryness. Affected areas include the ears, neck, knees, elbows and hocks. There are no non-skin related symptoms that accompany this disease. Topical treatment such as medicated shampoo and antibiotics are the most effective treatments.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis in an inherited predisposition that causes the immune system to overreact to environmental allergens such as pollen and dust. It causes dryness and flakiness and affects mostly Labrador retrievers aged between 1 and 3 years of age. Accompanying symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing and runny eyes. Your vet will take into consideration the age of your dog and the season while making a diagnosis. He will advise you to rid the home of all irritants by washing bedding and vacuuming regularly.


Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that causes crusty lesions to form on your Lab’s flanks, lower back, hips and tail. It is most typically the result of an underlying condition, such as dermatitis, seborrhea or any issue that causes itching, such as flea bites, hot spots or compulsive scratching. Your vet will typically treat this condition with antibiotics, although your Lab may require sedation to have the crusty lesions removed, due to the discomfort they cause.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest