Labradors are one of the most popular dog breeds in India, and why not? They’re intelligent, agile and easy to train. They have earned their position in the top. Go to a dog park and Labs would be the most popular breed there. We won’t be surprised if you took a keen interest in them and want to feed them the best food for Labradors.
Remember that while most Labs are people pleasers, they do have a varied personality when it comes to food. Some love food while others are picky-eaters. Labs are heavy dogs and they tend to put on weight if we do not manage their diet. They are also prone to hip dysplasia – a common problem among heavy dogs. Their diet should provide them with strength, stamina and keep them light on their feet.
In this article, we will discuss how you can find the best food for Labradors; one that will provide them with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals necessary for a healthy and happy Labrador.
About Labrador Diet
Since labs are quick to put on weight, you must provide them meals that keep them light on their feet. They are active dogs so, apart from a good diet, daily exercise is a must for a balanced lifestyle. Their diet should provide enough calories to keep them active throughout the day.
They are big dogs hence they need enough calories to maintain their adult weight. Since Labradors are prone to hip dysplasia, you must feed them nutritious food right from puppyhood.
Types of Food You Can Feed Your Lab
There are many types of dog food available for your labrador. Many pet owners feed two or more types of food available in the market. All the below varieties are good for your dog given that you choose premium products.
1. Raw Dog Food
Raw dog food refers to ingredients that haven’t been cooked at all. Currently, the BARF is gaining popularity amongst dog parents. Your Labrador may benefit from it, given that you buy the ingredients from a good source.
In most places, the diet isn’t as problematic as the meat quality and the methods of storage available to us. If the meat is artificially enhanced or poorly stored, your dog may become sick from it.
2. Dry Dog Food
As the name suggests, dry dog food refers to food that contains less than 10% moisture. Goodness dog food, for instance, is a dry dog food variety.
Some of the best dog food brands sell dry dog food and it is the most popular type of dog food. It is readily available, easy to store, does not require any preparation. No wonder pet parents love it so much.
3. Wet Dog Food
In contrast to dry dog food, wet dog food contains 60 – 90% moisture. Before dry dog food came into the market, wet dog food was the most popular. They are sold in cans or pouches and have a shorter shelf life.
There are a few dog parents, who prefer wet dog food as they believe it has more flavour, but since they are harder to store and have a shorter shelf life, they lost their popularity.
4. Homemade Dog Food
The final variety of dog food is the one you make at home. Dog safe food that comes from the safety of your kitchen is a common practice in Indian families. It may be ideal if you stay at home and have time to cook for your dog; for everyone else, the above types of dog food proves to be convenient.
At the end of the day, the type of dog food does not matter as long as the meals are balanced, nutritious and made with premium human-grade ingredients.
Best Food for Labrador Pups
Labs are large dogs. This means they grow very quickly during their first year. Their bones and muscles develop until they reach their adult weight. A healthy Labrador is active and playful during their puppy months.
Good food for Lab puppy food is one that can support them through their puppy months and give them a good foundation for the adult years.
Hip dysplasia may be a genetic condition among Labradors but what you feed them during their puppy months may decrease their chances of getting hip dysplasia during their later years. Hence calcium-rich food is good for them. It is important to get the balance right because too much calcium may also lead to hip dysplasia.
Labrador puppies grow fast. Lab parents say they see changes every day. Their food should have enough calories to support their growth spurts. Ideal puppy food is one that contains enough fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to help them grow and reach their ideal weight and height as adults.
It’s important to develop healthy eating habits at this age to prevent frequent canine anorexia.
Best Food for Labrador Adults
Once your Labrador puppy stops growing in size and puts on a little weight, they become adult dogs. It usually happens between the first 9 – 12 months of their life.
This is a very sensitive phase in their life. The calories that earlier helped them grow in size, would now help them develop muscles and sexual maturity. Be careful of the number of calories they eat during this phase of their life. Since they aren’t growing in height anymore a high-calorie puppy diet may add a few unwanted kilos.
As we said earlier, Labradors are quick to gain weight, so, pick a meal that contains lean white meat like salmon, trout, duck, chicken, etc. Fish and poultry meat is lean and therefore perfect for your Labrador.
Your Labrador also has a luscious double-layered coat. Hence their food should contain a good amount of omega fatty acids. The conditions of their fur tend to tell us if a Labrador is getting enough nutrition. A well-nourished Lab will have a thick, soft and shiny coat.
A tablespoon of unflavoured yogurt is great for Labradors. It helps them maintain a soft and silky coat and works wonders for their digestive health.
How Much to Feed a Labrador
Nutritional value means nothing if you feed too much or too little of it. With dogs that easily put on weight and develop bad eating habits, portion sizes are important.
From the span of 2 to 12 months, a Labrador grows at a rapid rate. At 2 months their weight is somewhere around 2.2 Kgs. As they grow consistently on a puppy food diet, their weight reaches its peak when they are 9 months old at around 30 Kgs. This is the best time to switch to adult dog food.
From the 10th to 12th month they should become lean and muscular. Research shows their weight to drops slightly from what they were at 9 months. Males and females differ in their weight once they reach adulthood.
Their calorie intake depends extensively on their weight, their life stage and the amount of activity they perform daily. Check out the calorie chart below for reference.
We hope this article was helpful. The best food for a Labrador is one that supports them and allows them to be the beautiful gentle giants they are known to be. Do you have a lab? What are you feeding your Labrador? Let us continue this conversation in the comment section below.