All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. Here’s a brief rundown on what you should know about some of the medical conditions that can affect the Labrador’s health.
Have a friend who loves to talk while walking their pup? A personalized phone case puts their pup where all eyes can see when they are out and about. Using Shutterfly, just upload a photo (tip: you might find a good one on social media) and then select a design and phone type to get it underway. The phone cases are made with scratch-resistant plastic in case your friend drops it at the dog park. And don’t worry they have cut out holes for the camera so they can continue to snap away (while the dog smiles back at itself on the back of the phone).
Recommended daily amount: 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. Keep your Lab in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise. You'll need to take special care if you're raising a Lab puppy. These dogs grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. Feed your puppy a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast. For more on feeding your Lab, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Also check out my 2018 Gift Guide for Foodies, Kitchen and Cooks, my 2018 Gift Guide for Skiing, Fitness & Outdoor Activities, plus last year’s 2017 Forbes Gift Guides, with many great picks that are still perfect, on a wide range of gifting topics including: Beer, Wine & Spirits (here); Food (here); Kitchen & Home (here); Whiskey Lovers' Gifts (here); Cycling (here); Skiing (here); and Golf & Fitness (here).
Yeti Dog Bowl: You probably already know that Yeti makes the world’s best coolers (hard and soft), and the company has quickly built an expanded product line of backpacks, drinkware and other accessories, all leveraging its reputation for products that are over-engineered and nearly indestructible. Well, they took the same approach to dog bowls, with the company’s single model, the Boomer 8, so named because it is large and holds up to eight cups of water (or food) enough for any dog (or more than one). It is built with double-walled, non-insulated, food safe 18/8 stainless steel, and is just bombproof rugged, very easy to clean, resistant to rust, and impervious to even the roughest roughhousing. It has a non-slip ring on the bottom, is heavy enough to not get knocked over, can even go in the dishwasher, and comes in four colors ($50).
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most recognizable breeds of dogs. Even people who aren't dog lovers can recognize a Lab! They make great therapy dogs, service dogs and guide dogs, gun dogs retrieving upland game and fowl, search and rescue dogs, and are the best all-around family dog. Their health problems are similar to most large dogs. They are susceptible to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. Diabetes can also be a serious problem if your Lab suffers from obesity.
Ruffwear Car Hammock: If you ever take your dog in the car and don’t know about hammock-style seat covers you will be kicking yourself when you check these out - I’ve used them for years. This is the best way to go for both the dog and the car, period. These hook to the headrests behind and in front of the back seat, giving the dog more room by turning the otherwise wasted leg space into an extension of the seat surface. They catch all the dirt, come in and out of the car in seconds, and can be washed in the machine, while leaving the seat underneath totally clean. While the concept is great, I went through a few bargain versions that eventually broke (usually the headrest strap) before I found Ruffwear’s Dirtbag seat cover, which has several advantages. First off, it’s tough, durable and totally waterproof - even for the muddiest dog. Secondly, it has ingenious extra flaps that slide into the space in the seat where the seatbelts are, something I have seen on no other model, which better anchors the installation and makes it lay flat, creating more usable surface area. It has convenient zippered slots where seatbelts come through, and also works very well on bench style seats without a front headrest, like in a minivan or large SUV. Finally, extra side flaps keep the ends of the seat by the door clean, and the non-slip surface is easier on your dogs. Highly recommended!
For the human who loves their dog but hates the wet-dog smell, Strategist writer Karen Iorio Adelson recommends this funny-looking candle that she discovered at her vet’s office that made his office smell like an Italian apricot orchard. “It works not by filling the air with a new scent to overpower the stink, but by releasing a blend of natural enzymes — the titular ‘exterminator’ — that break down airborne animal odors at a molecular level.”
If your dog isn't on a leash or he escapes the house and gets lost, you have to be able to find him. The Link AKC Smart Dog Collar is the perfect solution. The genuine leather collar has built-in GPS and activity tracking, so you know where your dog is and if he's exercising enough. To use the GPS tracking, you have to pay for a service plan, which costs $9.95 per month, $95.40 for one year, or $166.80 for two years.
Dogs are the best creatures in the universe who put up with all of our Grinch-like qualities all year round. They’re excited by the sight of a leash, never tire of belly rubs, will always listen to our ramblings, and will party the night away with nothing more than a stick. Here are the top 10 gifts for your well-deserving….maybe also a little spoiled, pup.