Best Food for Feeding Your Labrador Puppy & Dog
What’s the best food for feeding your Labrador puppy and dog to help them live life to the full?
Active, eager to please and easy to train – with the waggiest of tails and smiliest of doggy faces – when it comes to being a good-natured family pet, Labrador Retrievers tick all the boxes. It’s no wonder that, according to The Kennel Club, Labs consistently retain the top spot as the most popular of all pedigree breeds.
The breed has certainly come a long way from its hard-working Canadian roots – in 16th century Newfoundland, the ancestors of the Labrador Retrievers we know and love today were used to help fishermen retrieve nets and lost lines and pull carts loaded with fish.
Described as intelligent, keen, with a kindly nature, when a Labrador Retriever joins your family, you’ll have a devoted companion to share in all your adventures.
Labradors love affair with food
They’ll also want to share your food too and will attempt to incorporate practically anything into their Labrador diet.
It’s no secret that Labrador Retrievers really, really love food. Labs will try their hardest to beg, steal (or borrow) just about any kind of food, even if it will do them absolutely no good at all.
If you have a young Labrador you might be wondering what’s the best food for a Labrador puppy? Sensitive puppy food is suitable for feeding Labrador puppies from 6 weeks to 12 months old.
A recent scientific study has shown that a gene alteration specifically found in Labs indicates greater food-motivated behaviour than in other breeds. Researchers discovered that this variation occurs more frequently in Labradors chosen as assistance dogs and might explain why these canines seem more trainable with food rewards.
While this makes reward-based training with treats a breeze (as long as they’re focused on the task in hand, not just the tasty prize!) it does mean watching their daily food intake very carefully – and avoiding the temptation of feeding them table scraps and human food as part of their Labrador diet that could seriously harm them.
Burgess in-house vet, Dr Suzanne Moyes MVB MRCVS, who oversees recipe development and product production, advises: “When choosing Labrador puppy food, or adult food for a Labrador dog, look for a recipe that’s highly digestible, with no added artificial flavours, colours or preservatives and which has the full list of ingredients, so you know exactly what you’re feeding your dog.
“What’s more, if you choose a complete food, you can be sure you are providing your dog with all the nutrients they require in exactly the right proportions, so you don’t have to worry about balancing their diet. And, by following the on-pack feeding guidelines, it’s easier to manage portion control, to help your Lab maintain a healthy weight.”
What should you consider when choosing the best food for your Labrador dog?
Dogs aren’t, as is often believed, carnivores. They’re actually classified as omnivores – benefiting from a healthy diet that contains both animal and plant-based foods such as grains. Dogs need a balance of vitamins and minerals, and their food must contain zinc and copper supplements. They also need a little bit of fibre in their diet to help maintain a healthy gut.
Burgess Sensitive dog food range caters for your dog at every stage of their life – all the way through from puppy to senior. Sensitive puppy food is suitable for Labrador puppies from 6 weeks to 12 months old and nursing mothers. Sensitive adult dog food is designed for dogs over the age of 12 months. For dogs over the age of 7, sensitive senior dog food is the perfect food for your Labrador dog.
Each nutritious, tasty recipes contains:
- Taurine to support a healthy heart
- Antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system
- Prebiotics to help maintain a healthy gut
- Fatty acids and zinc to help maintain a healthy skin and glossy coat
- Calcium to support strong bones and teeth
- Yucca extract and beet pulp to help avoid smelly, runny poos!
With a whole host of five-star reviews, here’s a snapshot of what happy customers have told us about our Burgess Sensitive Dog Food range:
“My puppy loves this food, and I will buy it into adulthood.”
“Seems to have calmed pup's tummy and he eats every kibble and is excited at every mealtime.”
“Puppies seem to thrive on product.”
“Great puppy food, our dog loves it and it’s a reasonable price. The weekly/monthly subscription service is great too.”
“Both our dogs really enjoyed this food despite it being new. Our Labrador has a sensitive stomach and took to this change of food well.”
“Both dogs are really healthy and love the food.”
“Super quick delivery, large bags of food for a brilliant price!”
“Dog loves it! Healthy and balanced!”
“Dog loves it and I’m saving money.”
“My dog enjoys it and it's settled his sensitive stomach. We tried various diets, and this was the only one that settled him.”
“It suits my 11-year-old Labrador, and she enjoys her dinners. She produces smaller poos!”
What are the benefits of feeding a dry kibble dog food?
Dry kibble dog food is widely acknowledged to be a great way to deliver a nutritious, balanced, complete diet. The best dry food for adult and puppy Labradors is carefully crafted to provide exactly the right balance of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats that your dog needs, in an easy-to-feed form.
Dry dog food stays fresh inside the pack until you’re ready to serve it to your dog – and, by following the on-pack instructions, it’s easy to measure out exactly the right sized portion – which is super important if you have a food loving Lab who’ll just keep eating!
Make sure your dog always has plenty of fresh, clean water available and, if you are feeding your Labrador dog or puppy dry food, you’ll find they’ll need a little more.
When introducing a new food to your dog, you should do it gradually to avoid upsetting their digestion. Mix in the new food with the old over a period of 7 to 10 days until the new food completely replaces the old diet.
How often should you feed a Labrador Retriever and how much?
Puppies, with their small stomachs need three or four small meals a day, while adult dogs generally have two meals a day. Sometimes, elderly dogs benefit from three or four smaller meals.
The key to avoiding over-feeding your Labrador puppy or adult dog is to follow the on-pack feeding guidelines and ensure you measure out their daily ration – don’t guess it – and then divide it up throughout the day. If you feed treats for training or when out on walks, this should also be taken into account.
Remember that treats should be just that – something special, fed occasionally, in small amounts. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your Labrador's daily diet.
Feeding frenzy? How can you slow down a Labrador Retriever’s fast eating?
While some dogs like to savour every mouthful of their food, you might find that when feeding your Labrador puppy or adult dog, that they scoff down their dinner in seconds, which is really not good for them. Eating food too fast can cause digestive upsets, some of which can be very serious, requiring immediate veterinary attention. Pet Plan advises: “Eating too quickly can lead to a life-threatening condition called Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus).”
So, what’s the answer? Pet Plan suggests: “An easy fix solution could be that the food itself is not giving the dog enough nutrients and it is constantly feeling hungry. By switching the food you are feeding them to something more nutritionally beneficial you may be able to change your Lab's eating behaviour and allow them to slow down. If they’re still eating exceptionally fast, see a vet so your pet can be checked for any underlying medical conditions.”
Also worth trying to slow down super speedy eaters are slow feeding bowls featuring raised patterns that require more effort to get to the food, or puzzle feeders, which means your Lab has to engage both brain and brawn to get to their tasty kibble!
What foods are dangerous to Labrador Retrievers?
Here are some of the main foods that are dangerous for dogs and should be avoided in a Labrador diet. If you suspect your Lab has eaten any of the following, consult your vet immediately.
- Alcoholic beverages
Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.
- Chocolate, coffee, tea
Contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline, which can be toxic and affect the heart and nervous system.
- Fat trimmings
Can cause pancreatitis.
- Pits from peaches and plums
Can cause obstruction of the digestive tract.
- Grapes and raisins
Contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys.
If made from meat juices, it can contain high levels of fat, which can cause pancreatitis.
- Large amounts of liver
Can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.
- Macadamia nuts
Contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.
- Milk and other dairy products
Some adult dogs do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhoea.
- Mouldy or spoiled food
Can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhoea and can also affect other organs.
Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.
- Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder)
Contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia. Garlic is less toxic than onions.
- Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves; potato and tomato stems
Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem in livestock.
- Raw eggs
Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain salmonella.
- Raw fish
Can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.
- Excessive salt
If eaten in large quantities, it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.
- Sugary foods
Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.
- Table scraps (in large amounts)
Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced and if excessively fed can lead to obesity. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed.
This artificial sweetener sneaks its way into all sorts of foods – from peanut butter to jellies and jams and is highly toxic to canines. After a dog consumes a significant amount of xylitol, there is a massive release of insulin from the pancreas. This, in turn, results in a dangerously low blood sugar level and symptoms such as weakness, trembling, seizures, collapse, and even death.
Is a Labrador Retriever the right breed for you?
These easy-going, rewarding dogs have high energy levels, and will thrive on lots of attention, positive reward-based training, plenty of exercise as well as the right nutrition to keep them happy and healthy throughout their lives. Here are The Kennel Club’s guidelines on Labrador Retrievers:
- SIZE: Large
- EXERCISE: More than 2 hours per day
- SIZE OF HOME: Large house
- GROOMING: Once a week
- COAT LENGTH: Short
- SHEDS: Yes
- LIFESPAN: Over 10 years
- TOWN OR COUNTRY: Either
- SIZE OF GARDEN: Large garden
Harking back to their retriever breeding, Labradors love a game of fetch and will happily keep fetching for as long as you throw!
Many Labradors are happiest when they have something to gnaw on, so dog-safe chew toys are a great investment.
Make sure your pet doesn’t overdo it when exercising, as Labradors can often get carried away – especially during their puppy years when their joints and bones are still growing.
Need more advice?
If you’re at all unsure about the best way of feeding your Labrador puppy or adult dog or have any concerns about specific nutritional requirements, ask your local veterinary practice for advice. You can also call our expert team, available 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, on +44 (0)1405 862241 who’ll be happy to help. Alternatively, use our online contact form to get in touch.
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