Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dogs in the U.S. They are well-mannered, intelligent, and gentle canines that are perfect as family pets. But to keep these doggos in top shape, you have to feed them the best dog food for Labs.
|Wellness Core |
|Taste of the Wild |
Adult Dog Food
|Merrick Grain Free |
Senior Dog Food
As a large breed, Labs requires a different diet than mid-sized and small canines. Also, Labrador Retrievers are prone to joint issues due to their size. With this, proper nutrition that can keep up with their needs is a must.
Background of the Labrador breed
Labrador Retrievers originally came from the island of Newfoundland off the Atlantic Coast in the Canadian territory. They used to be a companion of fisher folks during the 1700s and were previously known as St. John dogs.
They retrieve fish that escape from towing lines and hooks. After a day’s work, Labs will join the family of the fisherfolk, thus their long history of being a family pet.
Soon enough, Labs were shipped to England where they got their ‘Labrador’ name. Labs almost got extinct in the 1800s but were saved by many English owners, including the Malmesbury family.
Nowadays, Labrador Retrievers are top candidates for service work including explosive detection, therapy, assistance, and more.
Nutrition of Labrador Retrievers
Just like any dog, Labs need the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. Some pet owners think that Labs need more calcium due to their size. This is true, though. However, you should be careful not to over-feed them with this mineral to avoid fast growth that may result in skeletal problems.
When it comes to protein sources, you may want to check with your dog’s allergies. Labs aren’t really notorious for this condition but some individual doggos might have harsh reactions to some food ingredients. Still, the healthiest sources of protein include fish, poultry, beef, lamb, and turkey.
Fat is also a crucial component of a dog’s diet. It gives added energy and boosts the health of the dog’s coat.
However, not all fats are good for dogs. Always opt for healthy fats from salmon, chicken, and some fruits like avocado. These are rich in Omega fatty acids that support skin, coat, and joints. Always watch for the level of fat to prevent your pooch from becoming obese.
Next, you should also give your dog the right amount of carbohydrates. This is the main source of energy of your dog. You can add beans, whole grains, legumes, and leafy vegetables for this. As much as possible, opt for a carb source that also contains fiber and other essential nutrients.
If possible, look for dog food with chelated minerals. Chelated means the minerals are faster and easier to absorb.
Diet based on age
Labradors are fast-growing dogs. This fact also means that you have to keep up with their nutritional needs. Here’s a quick look at their nutritional requirement per life stage:
Puppy Lab: Pups need at least 22% of protein to support their growth. This should be paired with 8% of fat that came from animal sources. A vegan diet isn’t best for Labs since dogs are born omnivores.
Adult Lab: Once the pup grows into a full-sized adult pooch, you have to switch it to an 18% protein diet. By this time, you have to maintain the muscle mass of the dog while keeping their fat at a minimum. Pair the protein with 5% fat.
Remember, it’s not healthy for dogs to become obese, especially for adult labs that can weigh as much as 36 kilograms. The excess weight will put too much strain on their joints which will result in canine arthritis when they reach seniorhood.
Senior Lab: The older a Labrador gets the more they become prone to obesity. The dog’s metabolism slows down and they become less active. It’s important that you switch to a large breed senior formula at this point.
How much should I feed?
This all depends on the life stage, weight, and condition of your Lab. Generally, Labs have to eat around 3 to 4 cups of food a day. However, dogs that are engaged in sports would need to eat more to keep up with their energy expenditure.
Knowing how much you should put on the dish isn’t really difficult. Once you purchase the best dog food for Labs, you can refer to the serving instructions at the back of the label. These instructions will be divided into your dog’s age and weight.
Here’s a video from Nutrition 101 to guide you:
Best ingredients for large breed dog food
When buying dog food for your Labrador, try to look for the following ingredients:
🐕Chondroitin and glucosamine
These two nutrients are important to keep the joints of your dog healthy. It supports the cartilage of the joints and delays the onset of arthritis.
Since Labradors are large dogs, they are highly prone to joint problems. These nutrients together with calcium and fatty acids will keep them in good shape.
🐕Vegetable and fruits
Remember, dogs are omnivore beings. It’s important that you feed your Lab with meals infused with fresh veggies and fruits. The likes of blueberries, cranberries, and carrots are rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
You can also consider formulas with tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and raspberries among others.
🐕Vitamins and minerals
Not all minerals are ideal for Labradors. Consider the likes of potassium, calcium, zinc, iron, and manganese as staples. But how much calcium does your dog needs? It’s best to ask the vet since each dog will have varying bone conditions.
Also, dog food with L-Carnitine, amino acids, and DL-Methionine are excellent sources of minerals and nutrients.
Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats in the body which will be used for glucose synthesis. It helps provide energy while supporting the development of the internal organs.
Moreover, fatty acids keep the skin and coat of you Lab shiny and free from dryness. It also contributes to joint health.
Don’t forget that your dog needs to hydrate as much as humans do. Canned dog food products are packed with moisture. If you prefer kibble, you can pour some water on it to make a mushy meal. Make sure that you place a dish of fresh water on the side for your dog to access anytime.
Here are more points that you have to keep in mind when shopping around for the best dog food for Labs:
Kibble shape can help improve the better health of your dog. As the dog chews, the kibble brushes through the teeth. This will help remove plaque and tartar. Still, regular brushing is the key to prevent other dental problems.
It’s a matter of preference, but the more organic the food is the better it will be for your Labrador. Besides, dogs used to hunt for food in the wild. Anyway, anything that’s artificial or synthetic is bad for the body.
🐕Weight of the dog
Like what I said, the weight of the dog will play a big role in the food you’re going to serve. Also, check the life stage of the best dog food for Labs. Many dog food products nowadays are made for specific dog age. Below, we reviewed three dog food products, one for each life stage.
3 Dog Foods for Each Labrador Life Stage
Looking for the best dog food for your Labrador? Here’s one for each life stage that I personally picked and reviewed:
Wellness Core Grain-Free Puppy Food
It’s important to start the nutrition of your puppy right. Give the pooch the Wellness Core Puppy Food. This is 100% grain-free to reduce the risk of allergies. Also, it’s made from premium salmon, turkey, and chicken that your pup will definitely love.
This food is also packed with DHA that will support the mental development of puppies. Moreover, this dog food contains an all-natural formula free from wheat, soy, colorants, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
Most of all, this puppy food contains glucosamine, an essential nutrient that will keep the dog’s joints healthy. It’s also infused with rosemary, parsley, kale, blueberries, apples, and banana among other nutritious ingredients.
Each serving of this Wellness Core kibble has 36% crude protein, 10% moisture, 17% fat, 5% fiber, and 3% of Omega-6 fatty acids as well as Omega-3. There’s an added beta carotene of not less than 5 mg.
What I love the most about this best dog food for Labs is it supports leaner body mass. It’s also ideal if you want your dog to have a shinier coat. Fortified with probiotics, vitamins, and minerals, this dog food is the perfect choice for growing pups. To add, the kibble size is made smaller so pups can easily munch it without the risk of choking.
A 26-pound bag is pretty affordable considering the quality of the formula.
Taste of the Wild Grain Free Adult Dog Food
Once your pup becomes an adult dog, it’s time to switch the pooch to a new formula. The Taste of the Wild Adult Dog Food is my top pick for large breeds. It has real roasted bison and an excellent amino acid profile which helps sustain strong muscles.
What I love the most here are the species-specific probiotics that thrive well on the GI tract. This food is also infused with superfoods like raspberries, blueberries, chicory root, tomatoes, and more.
Every serving of this food has 32% of protein, 4% of fiber, 18% of fat, and 10% of moisture. It’s rich in antioxidants as well as Vitamins A, B, and C. There are also optimal levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
For Labs with notorious allergies with grains, this formula is heaven-sent. Most of all, this has a seal from AAFCO for meeting the prescribed nutritional levels.
If you’re looking for a highly nutritious adult dog food where you can save some bucks, this is the one to buy. I’m quite surprised by the price considering its ingredients and formula. If you have doubts, it will help to know that thousands of pet owners have already trusted this brand.
Merrick Grain Free Senior Dog Food
If you have a senior dog, it’s equally important to focus on what the pooch eats. At this age, your doggo would be less active and requires other nutrients to sustain their health. This is why I recommend the Merrick Grain Free Senior Dog Food.
This grain-free formula is very easy to digest and made from real deboned chicken. This is mixed with ingredients like a salmon meal, chicken fat, apple, blueberry, and more. It also has manganese, Vitamins B, E, D, L-Carnitine and more.
Moreover, this is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, two nutrients that senior dogs badly need. It will keep their joints healthy and ease the symptoms of arthritis.
Also, the kibble size is made small so senior dogs can easily chew and swallow it. My own dog loved it and his stool has been firmer. However, you should be careful with the amount you’ll serve. It’s not a good idea to take care of an obese senior dog.
Every serving of this food contains 32% protein, 3% fiber, 12% fat, and 11% moisture. Always follow the serving instructions on the label based on the goal weight of your dog.
The best dog food for Labs should always be in line with their life stage and nutritional needs. The products we reviewed here are just some of the items you can choose from. If you have doubts, it’s always wise to ask the advice of a veterinarian.