Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds among dog owners. It’s not hard to see why, considering their fun-loving natures. As a result, they’re often an effortless fit into most homes without much adjustment.
But even with this adaptable disposition, prospective owners still need to research. They should do their best to learn everything about this lovable breed. One of the more notable areas to cover is the number of health issues associated with Golden Retrievers.
This article will cover all the common health issues that cause the breed problems. It’ll provide a significant insight into what an owner needs to look out for when caring for one. So read on and prepare yourself for these potential future problems.
10 Common Golden Retriever Health Issues
The first thing to understand about Golden Retrievers is they’re purebred. Due to this, they often are more susceptible to health concerns than mixed breeds. It comes from a subpar breeding history that has resulted in poor genes being passed down to liters.
So people must do their best to get a detailed history before adopting one. If you plan on getting one from a breeder, a history becomes even more essential. I’d also suggest researching their breeding facility and tour it if possible.
Nonetheless, issues will pop up even with the healthiest breeding lineage. These health conditions often are the culprits in causing this breed’s problems. Getting a handle on them earlier can help identify and address the issue before it becomes a serious concern:
Bloat is a potential issue for any large breeds, like Golden Retrievers. Most people associate this condition with dogs eating too fast. Doing so will fill a dog’s stomach with air, causing pressure to build up inside it.
As you can imagine, it creates a problematic situation. It’ll muck up the blood circulation and prevent it from reaching the heart. Eventually, the process will send your dog into shock and require immediate vet attention.
Bloat isn’t a condition any owner wants to encounter with their dog. About 30% of cases result in death, so it’s very concerning. Due to this, be extra cautious with the feeding schedule to slow their eating.
I’d recommend separating their food intake into sessions throughout the day. Two or three feedings per day usually do an excellent job of keeping this issue at bay. But I’d still recommend being watchful for the following symptoms:
- Hardened or enlarged abdomen
- Excessive saliva
- Inability to stand upright
- Pain or weakness
2. Hot Spots
Hot spots are one of the most annoying conditions for canines and their owners. As a kid, I used to have a Golden Retriever, and my parents couldn’t figure out how to contain these hot spots. It ended up with my dog constantly scratching and licking the areas.
I also must mention that goldens are more prone to hot spots because of their thick coats. These coats offer the perfect warm, humid environment for them to develop, especially after a swimming session. The hot spots thrive under these circumstances and get infected with yeast/bacteria.
Your dog will then proceed to lick, chew, or scratch them. They attempt to treat the wound, even though it causes the hot spots to become much worse. These activities result in the skin becoming infected and inflamed.
Anyone who notices these nuisances on their golden should schedule a vet visit. Unfortunately, it’s not a condition that’s solvable with a home remedy. You’ll need a special medication to combat its discomfort and pain.
Hypothyroidism affects a dog’s thyroid gland by stopping it from producing hormones. It’s considered an endocrine disorder, which results in various side effects. A golden who suffers from hypothyroidism will develop a long list of symptoms:
- Fur thinning
- Skin and ear infections
- Noticeable weight gain
- Loss of appetite
- Dry skin
- Cold intolerance
Sadly, Golden Retrievers have shown a habit of getting this condition. I’ve experienced this condition with my Pitbull, and it’s scary to witness. Thankfully, all it required was identifying the issue and getting the proper medication.
Once she got the right meds, managing this disorder became effortless. It only requires giving her a single pill with each feeding session for the rest of her days. There’s nothing to it.
An extremely painful addition to this list is a condition called panosteitis. It refers to when a dog’s leg shaft becomes inflamed and causes extreme pain. It’s another one often only seen in large breeds like our lovable Golden Retrievers.
Most experts consider panosteitis an unfortunate side effect of rapid leg growth. If left untreated or unaddressed, this condition can result in lameness. There’s little more concerning than seeing your dog limping around on a lousy limb.
Aside from lameness, panosteitis will present with several other noticeable symptoms. So any dog who has begun to showcase these signs should contact a vet immediately:
- Fatigue or lethargy
- A fever
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Unwillingness to exercise
- Leg pain or limping
Treatment for panosteitis will require a prescription from a vet. It can help your dog manage the pain of rapid growth to ensure they aren’t unhappy or uncomfortable. Otherwise, there isn’t much an owner can do from inside their homes without a vet’s help.
5. Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common concern for every large breed dog. It refers to when a dog’s hip joint/hip joints won’t align correctly, causing pain and inflammation. If left untreated, this condition can result in a severe case of arthritis.
One overlooked factor about hip dysplasia is this condition can be hereditary. So a dog whose mother or father suffered from this issue is susceptible to passing it down to their offspring. As a result, I advise getting a detailed genetic history when getting Golden Retrievers from breeders.
As for the symptoms, hip dysplasia is one of the more noticeable conditions on this issue. You shouldn’t have trouble when this issue has become to develop. In these cases, the following symptoms will often show up:
- Reculance with jumping or exercising
- Decrease in motion of the hip joint
- Loss of thigh muscle mass
- Activity decrease
- Swaying gait
One piece of good news about this condition is it’s manageable. Pet owners can reduce its effects with medications and joint supplements. But I’d advise talking with your vet before trying anything to prevent side effects or other issues.
In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to help manage it. It usually becomes the only option if this condition isn’t identified and addressed early. Therefore, keep your eyes open to ensure it never gets that bad.
6. Elbow Dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia is an encompassing term for several conditions. Each results in DJD (degenerative joint disease) occurring within a dog’s elbow. As with hip dysplasia, it’s a painful nightmare to experience for other beloved Golden Retrievers. Some notable elbow dysplasia symptoms include:
- Swollen elbows
- Abnormal gait
- Resistance to exercise
- Elbow bugging to the side
- Lameness in one or both front legs
I haven’t had a dog who’s suffered from this condition. But I’ve seen it cause severe discomfort for several dogs I fostered. Luckily, the shelter provided access to pain medication and very effective anti-inflammatories.
7. Eye Conditions
Golden Retrievers have a well-documented history of issues with eye conditions. In particular, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and pigmentary uveitis give them heaps of trouble. Being aware of these two conditions should be on the to-do list of every Golden Retriever owner.
Progressive retinal atrophy causes the eye’s retina to degenerate slowly. Over time, it’ll result in complete blindness within the eye, which is quite heartbreaking to watch. But it’s worth noting that there are many blind goldens who live happy lives with this condition.
As for pigmentary uveitis, it’s an inherited condition that results in black/brown cysts. These cysts often won’t develop until your golden over five years old. In most cases, they’ll be benign, requiring medication for treatment.
But these become much more serious when they’re left untreated. For instance, these cysts will produce cataracts or glaucoma that require emergency assistance.
8. Atopic Dermatitis
No Golden Retriever will have much fun dealing with atopic dermatitis. After all, atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory condition notable for causing excessively itchy skin. So it’ll end up causing them to scratch, bite, and chew at their fur.
It’s not only frustrating for owners but goldens will become very uncomfortable. The situation will get bad enough that the skin thickens and hair loss occurs. It’s also common for this condition to cause discolored skin and lesions.
In general, atopic dermatitis is triggered by food and environmental allergies. It could be anything from a bad reaction to a new dietary ingredient or encountering pollen. But it’s vital to figure out your golden’s specific trigger to help prevent this condition.
Goldens affected by it will develop when they’re between two and six years old. Anyone who suspects this condition is causing their dog problems should schedule a vet visit. There isn’t much a dog owner can do at home to manage atopic dermatitis.
Cancer is the word every dog owner fears to hear when visiting their vets. However, Golden Retrievers have a reputation for developing a few types of cancer. The primary ones are hemangiosarcoma (HSA) and lymphoma.
Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer that develops in a dog’s heart, liver, or spleen. It’s one of the more aggressive types, forming a blood-filled tumor in these areas. The worst part about this tumor is it can rupture randomly, causing excessive internal bleeding.
So it’s difficult to manage for a dog owner and vet. In fact, the tumor rupture will require immediate medical assistance, or it can become fatal quickly. Owners must be vigilant if their golden does develop this cancer type.
Meanwhile, lymphoma is a highly common cancer for goldens that attacks the lymph nodes, hence the name. But it often doesn’t stop there, as it’ll look to spread throughout a dog’s body. Unfortunately, I’ve had experience dealing with this condition; it was the cause of my Golden Retriever passing when I was younger.
10. Subaortic Valvular Stenosis
Subaortic valvular stenosis, also known as SAS, refers to a genetic heart condition. This condition gets passed down to Golden Retriever puppies from their parents, developing within their first year.
During this development, the condition presents with tissue forming inside your dog’s heart. It’ll then slow down blood flow, eventually obstructing it altogether. Its presence will result in your puppy suffering severe heart damage.
Symptoms for puppies suffering from SAS include fatigue, inability to exercise, fainting, weakness, and difficulty breathing. This condition can even cause a puppy to die suddenly. Given this information, owners should seek medical expertise if these symptoms occur.
It’s also a clear indication of lineage being a massive factor for Golden Retrievers. It’s another reason why getting a fully detailed health history is essential.
How Can I Help My Golden Retriever Avoid These Health Issues?
Owners can take several things to help prevent their goldens from developing these issues. It’s all about keeping your dog healthy and happy by any means necessary. The following tips will provide a guideline to offer a solid starting point:
1. Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Follow your vet’s recommended schedule of visits, vaccines, and examinations to a tee. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with Golden Retrievers. Let’s be honest; having an expert’s opinion on your dog’s health is never bad.
If the financial burden is too much, signing up for pet insurance can lessen the burden. These policies will cover aspects of veterinary care that can be expensive. Plus, the monthly fee will be much less than paying for these procedures out of your pocket.
2. Meet Their Grooming and Other Care Requirements
Grooming requirements for goldens are extensive because of their heavy coats. So you’ll need to brush their coats weekly (daily brushing during shedding seasons) to avoid matted hair and hot spots. Otherwise, their fur can get nasty if not cared for properly.
Owners should also brush their golden’s teeth weekly to promote better dental health. Cleaning their ears every week is another necessity to avoid problematic build-ups. If you have any questions about how to do them, check out these videos (teeth brushing and ear cleaning)
3. Provide the Proper Amount of Exercise
Golden Retrievers will require about an hour of exercise per day. Of course, there are several ways of accomplishing it, whether it’s through walks, swimming, or a large backyard. But it’s crucial to give mental and physical stimulation during these sessions.
If not, goldens may get bored and let it loose through bad behaviors. So keep these sessions fun with toys and owner/dog interaction. You could even train them in new tricks or commands regularly to keep everything fresh.
4. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Maintaining a proper diet is a massive component of keeping your dog healthy. I’d recommend choosing a food free of chemical preservatives with a first ingredient of meat. You also should ensure your food uses “human-grade” ingredients.
Two cups of this high-quality food per day should be more than enough. However, I’d separate the food into two or three feeding sessions. Doing so will help prevent them from eating too fast and causing a condition like bloat.
Overall, the number of Golden Retriever health issues does seem overwhelming. But any owner who does their best to keep up with proper care, exercise, and diet should be fine. In these cases, goldens will have no trouble reaching their lifespan of 10 to 12 years (excluding genetic-related problems).
Honestly, it’s hard to find a better pet for any home than a Golden Retriever. So if you’re ready to meet their care requirements, I wouldn’t hesitate to get one. But if you’ve got additional questions, let me know in our comment section. Thanks for reading!