Labrador Retrievers, often known as labs, are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Famous for their friendly nature, muscular physique, and diverse and attractive good looks, you can quickly identify a lab from a mile away. A Labrador is a large-breed dog with an approximate weight of 50 to 80 pounds when fully grown.
They are very active dogs with a unique level of intelligence, not common in many dog breeds. In the past, they were hunting dogs, but in today’s society, they make excellent family companions. They enjoy affection from their owners and renowned for their energetic personality and trainability.
Even though they are a great breed, they require some extra maintenance effort to live a long and healthy life. Read on to find out how I found the best dog food for my lab.
When I got Charlie, my Labrador retriever, I was over the moon to finally get a canine companion in my lonely apartment. I could not wait for the adventures we would go on together and how close our relationship would grow. I adopted Charlie when he was about a year old, meaning he had already matured to his full size. His friendly personality, people-oriented character, and energetic nature attracted me to him immediately I walked in the kennel.
I love taking trips to the wild, and seeking out adventure from various life experiences, making a lab the perfect dog breed for me. I also noticed that Charlie quickly understood my commands, facilitating fast training, and enforcing good communication between us.
The Labrador Retriever’s diet
Once I got my lab, I was unsure of what to feed him. The kennel lady told me of some suggestions to try out at first and I decided to give her recommendations a try. At first, Charlie ate a small portion every day, which was less than what he needed. After a few weeks, he completely stopped eating. Immediately, I consulted one of my friends who also had a lab.
She explained to me that labs need a specific set of nutrients to grow and live healthy lives. As they grow up, these nutritional needs tend to change as their bodies develop at various stages of their lives. Ever since I got Charlie, I fed him the same meal that was given to me by the kennel lady.
After the conversation I had with my friend, I realized I needed to feed him better and nourish him with foods of essential dietary value. I took to the internet after the conversation I had with my friend and made a few more discoveries about the diet of a lab, which I immediately tried out. Some options worked out great while others, Charlie was not too happy about them.
The Special dietary needs of a lab
All dogs are not the same. Each dog requires a specific type of foods and care to enable them to live their best life. A Labrador grows to its full size between 18 and 24 months.
You may opt to feed him puppy food till then, but it is not necessary if you carefully monitor his growth. Large breed dogs, like the Labrador, have a likelihood of contacting musculoskeletal issues in adulthood and excessive growth as puppies increases these chances; thus, the need to keep track of their growth rate.
Protein is an essential nutrient in dogs. As a puppy, your lab needs 22% protein in his diet to support strong and healthy muscle growth and development. When he grows into adulthood, he requires at least 18% protein in his meals to maintain lean mass and healthy bones.
Fat is another integral part of a dog’s diet. They are a source of concentrated calories for labs, which provides them with enough energy for daily use. However, too much fat is harmful in their diets as it equates to too many calories. The best diet for a Labrador is one with high-protein and low-to-moderate fat and calorie content.
When looking for the best dog food for your lab, it is vital to keep in mind the risk of dog allergies and other potential health problems. Labs, like many other dogs, are known to develop allergies and intolerances to certain food ingredients.
Employ a feeding method, like elimination diet or feeding a limited-ingredient-diet with a single source of high-quality animal protein, to identify any food allergens your lab may have. Some common health problems associated with labs include hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, and gastric dilation volvulus; among others.
Considerations when choosing the best Labrador dog food
As a dog owner, it is my responsibility to ensure my canine meets his dietary every time he eats. Just like humans, dogs require a wholesome diet made up of natural ingredients and a majority of animal sources to live long and fulfilled lives. Here are some key considerations to make when looking for the best dog food for your lab.
- High-quality animal protein sources: Dogs are not necessarily carnivores, but they need top quality animal-sourced proteins to ensure optimum bioavailability. Labs are at a higher risk for obesity. It is best to feed them a high amount of lean proteins to help them maintain their lean muscle mass.
- Low-to-moderate fat: Fats furnish dogs with a healthy amount of calories and essential fatty acids. These nutrients help in supporting brain development as well as the growth of a healthy coat. However, ensure you do not feed him too much fat to avoid their risk of obesity.
- Natural and easily digestible ingredients: Feeding your lab with natural and wholesome ingredients that are highly digestible is crucial in feeding them a complete and balanced diet. Look for whole-grain carbohydrates, if your pup can tolerate them, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods with artificial flavors, coloring, and preservatives.
- Joint-supporting nutrients: Choose a large breed dog food with calcium and phosphorus, which supports healthy bone structure, and chondroitin and glucosamine, which promotes joint health.
- Complete and balanced diet: Any dog food that carries the AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy is nutritionally balanced. However, this statement does not guarantee the quality of the ingredients used. Look for foods with high-quality animal protein sources, essential low-to-mid fat content, adequate minerals, and vitamins, as well as fresh fruits and vitamins.
Our top 5 picks for the best dog food for a lab
Now that you understand more about choosing the best kibble for your Labrador, let us delve into my top five options for the best dog foods for Charlie. From the best food for a lab with allergies to the best kibble for puppies, I have considered it all.
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula
With high-quality animal proteins and grain-free ingredients, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula is one of my favorite diets to feed Charlie. More so, it is one of the more popular dog food brands due to their excellent blend of high-quality animal proteins, and moderate fat and calories.
Its high-quality animal proteins include venison, buffalo meat, chicken meal, lamb meal, roasted bison. This food also has probiotic organisms that further boost your lab’s digestive functioning and immune system.
This recipe from Taste of the Wild also contains fruits and vegetables, such as peas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, raspberries, and blueberries, for extra nutrition. Raspberries and blueberries are antioxidants, meaning they support your lab’s immune system and improve the health of their arteries.
2. Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is ideal for labs. It is most suitable for dogs predisposed to canine obesity or those that do not get enough exercise. This formula comes with a minimum of 10% fat while still providing sufficient calories to enable him to perform his daily routine.
This Wellness CORE recipe has high-quality protein sources, such as deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. It is also rich in moisture and fiber content to promote the optimum development of your lab’s joints.
The formula does not have cereal grains in its ingredients but consists of probiotic microorganisms to promote the optimum functioning of your dog’s immune and digestive system. This recipe also contains essentials fatty acids, chondroitin, vitamins, minerals, and glucosamine as well as fresh fruits and vegetables for additional nutritional value.
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Food
Blue Buffalo is one of the most recommended pet food brands recommended by vets. My dog loved this formula when he was a puppy. Despite its reputation for being expensive, this particular formula consists of high-quality ingredients essential for large breed puppies.
The nutrition-dense formula contains LifeSource Bits, a trademark ingredient from Blue Buffalo. This means it has an excellent blend of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for a balanced and complete diet for your dog.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Food has lean animal proteins from fresh chicken and supplemental proteins from menhaden fish meal. With whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal, the recipe is highly digestible and supports the healthy growth of large-breed puppies while controlling their growth rate. This recipe also contains fresh fruits and vegetables which provides essential nutrients and supplemental fiber.
4. Canidae PURE Grain-Free Healthy Weight Real Chicken & Pea Recipe Dry Food
Labradors are a highly active breed. If you do not play with them and take them for walks around the block or the park, they are highly prone to obesity as well as other health problems. This healthy weight recipe from Canidae is ideal for dogs that gain weight quickly.
It has nine primary ingredients, including chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, peas, and garbanzo beans, as well as grain-free carbohydrates and moderate fats. These ingredients are easily digestible and supplemented by plenty of fiber and probiotics for optimum digestive tract health as well as a complete and balanced diet.
Furthermore, there are several variations of Canidae’s PURE dry dog food. Some of them include lamb and pea recipe or real bison flavor, which come highly recommended by many Labrador owners. It all depends on your dog’s preferences.
5. Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Dry Dog Food
If your Labrador has a sensitive stomach or certain allergies, the Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed dry dog food is the ideal choice for their diet. This unique formula features a holistic approach with all-natural ingredients. Specifically made for large-breed dogs, the recipe has a chicken meal and a concentrated amount of lean proteins, and whitefish meal and eggs as extra proteins.
This formula also has nutritious chicken fat as a source of calories for energy supply and the growth of a healthy coat. It does not contain any artificial additives or fillers and has chelated minerals and essential vitamins for nutritional balance.
Labradors are a popular dog breed for a good reason. They are affectionate, big, and full of energy and excitement. However, they require a nutritionally balanced diet to keep them healthy and active for their complete lifespan. Choosing the best dog food for your lab is crucial in giving it a complete and balanced diet. Depending on its stage in life, ensure your furry friend gets all the dietary requirements he needs to grow strong and live a long and healthy life.
Now that you understand the nutritional needs of a lab, you may begin your personal journey for the best dog food for your canine companion. Remember to pick a meal that is specifically for large-breed dogs and consists of wholesome, natural, and easily digestible ingredients. If you are not sure of where to start, try any of my top five picks and watch your lab grow and live their best life.