New Study Examines the Health of Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the United States for many years.  We love this kind, gentle, and loving dog…but like any purebred dog, the Lab does have some inherited health issues that all owners should know about.

A recent study of Labs in the UK took a look at the most common health and well-being issues of this popular dog.  What are the key findings?

61.6% of all Labs in the study had at least one known health disorder.  Here are the most common:

  • Otitis externa (ear canal inflammation and infection)
  • Obesity (particularly among neutered males)
  • Degenerative joint disease (hip and elbow dysplasia)

Interestingly, some of the conditions were found to be more closely associated with coat color than others.  For example, chocolate colored Labs were more likely to have both otitis externa and a skin condition called pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots).

The average lifespan of all Labs is around 12 years, but chocolate Labs had shorter lifespans.  The two most common causes of death in Labs are musculoskeletal disorders and cancer.

The researchers suspect that the link between chocolate color and illness/mortality might be due to an increased number of genetic diseases contained in a more limited gene pool.

If you’re interested in a Labrador Retriever as your next pet, be sure to work only with a reputable breeder (or rescue organization) who health tests their dogs for inherited health problems.

For more information on health testing, check out the website of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.


November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Has your pet been diagnosed with cancer?  One in four dogs and one in five cats will develop cancer in their lifetimes.  Experts say that the number of pet cancer cases is rising, as advances in veterinary medicine are increasing the lifespans of our companion animals.

Here are a few important facts about cancer for all pet owners.

Common symptoms of cancer in pets

  • Abnormal lumps or swollen areas
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Bloody discharge
  • Difficulty breathing or eliminating
  • Lameness

Most common pet cancers

  • Mammary gland tumors. These are more common in dogs than cats.
  • Skin tumors. Tumors in cats tend to be more malignant than in dogs; some canine tumors can be benign.
  • Head and neck cancer. Especially common in the mouth and nose.
  • Lymphoma. A common cancer in both dogs and cats.  Lymphoma in cats is linked to second-hand smoke exposure.
  • Bone cancer. Older, large breed dogs are especially at risk.

Pet cancer prevention tips

  • Spay and neuter your pet. This greatly reduces the risk of cancer in the mammary glands and sex organs.
  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Obesity can cause many health problems, including cancer.
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth and visit the vet for regular oral exams.
  • Keep pets, especially those with white fur, out of the sun to avoid the risk of skin cancer.

For more information, check out this article from the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Happy Thanksgiving!


Wishing all of our friends a Happy Thanksgiving!  We’d like to extend a special thanks to our partners at the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo for their generous grant to FACE’s Save-A-Life Program pet cancer fund.  Cute little Chaquita is just one of the recipients of this grant.  She received assistance in October and is doing well.  Check our Facebook page in the coming weeks to see more cancer fund recipients.


A FACE in the Spotlight: Meet Madisyn Bonestell


To say that Madisyn Bonestell is a partner of the FACE Foundation is an understatement! Currently the Client Care Lead at San Diego’s Veterinary Specialty Hospital, Madisyn is a long-term member of the FACE family, having interned with us for six months prior to joining the staff at VSH. Madisyn has a unique perspective on the work that FACE does in collaboration with our veterinary partners to help save the lives of pets in need of urgent medical care.

“I know most of the people at FACE very well,” she says. “They are all so helpful and truly care about the pets.” Madisyn’s experience working with both FACE and VSH has been invaluable. She knows that a FACE grant means a second chance at life. “FACE is all about the animals and giving owners more time with their beloved pets,” say Madisyn. Her career at VSH has given her the pleasure of witnessing medical miracles firsthand. “It’s amazing watching pets walk out of here and going on to live a full life with their loving owners,” she says.


Madisyn’s most memorable FACE case at the hospital has been Loki. Many of our friends will remember sweet Loki and her loving family. Loki was able to have life-saving back surgery with the help of FACE. She and her family became great advocates for our work. Loki unfortunately developed cancer and was again helped by a FACE grant before passing away. “I enjoyed being a part of Loki’s second and third chance at life,” says Madisyn.

When not working at VSH, Madisyn enjoys spending time with her dog Jacob, reading, and hanging out with her friends. A true San Diegan, Madisyn loves going to the beach and experiencing all the fun things the city has to offer. FACE thanks Madisyn and everyone at VSH for all that they do to help save the lives of pets in need!


The Link Between Exposure to Cigarette Smoke and Lymphoma in Cats


The dangers associated with exposure to second-hand smoke are well-documented in the scientific literature. While many people would never smoke around their kids, some will still smoke in the homes that they share with their pets. Indoor cats are at especially high risk for developing lymphoma of the intestinal tract caused by exposure to second-hand smoke. What’s the connection? Read on…


Back in 2002, an important article was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology summarizing results of a study that found cats who live with smokers are twice as likely to acquire malignant lymphoma as cats in non-smoking households. Lymphoma is the most common cancer in cats. The prognosis for cats diagnosed with lymphoma is not generally good.


What’s the reason cats exposed to smoking in the home are at such a high risk for lymphoma? An indoor cat is exposed to all of the environmental contaminants associated with second-hand smoke in the home. Besides inhaling it, cats are put at higher risk for lymphoma of the digestive system because they ingest harmful particulate matter by licking it off of their fur while grooming.


Cats exposed to smoking are at double the risk for developing lymphoma than cats with no exposure. A cat exposed for 5 years or longer is at triple the risk. If a cat lives with two or more smokers who smoke in the house, the risk for lymphoma jumps to four times as high as cats in non-smoking households.


The bottom line for smokers who are also pet owners is simple…please don’t smoke around your pets, it could save their lives.

For more on the groundbreaking study, click HERE.