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Feeding Your RetrieverThe Labrador Retriever, or Golden Retriever, is a popular dog breed, universally recognized for his friendly and loving demeanor. Labs come in yellow, chocolate, and black varieties and are known for their puppy eyes and velvet soft ears.

Originally, as their names would suggest, Labrador Retrievers were hunting and fishing dogs used to retrieve prey that their masters had killed. Nowadays, the lab is a favorite breed, both as a family pet and as a guide dog due to their gentle and even temperament.

Of course, like all dog breeds, labs have their own set of challenges and specific nutritional requirements to keep them healthy, happy and feeling their best. So, what does that mean exactly? Well, let’s take a look.


Recommended Dog Foods Comparison

Last update on 2018-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Like Other Breeds, Labs Have Specific NeedsLab Puppies

Like most breeds, owners have to spend a little bit of time and research on selecting the right food for their labs. Labs are prone to weight gain and when they have put on an extra bit of pudge, they find it difficult to shed.

The trouble here lies within the fact that labs are also a high-energy breed and, as we know, a proper amount of fat in the diet can be a great source of energy.

To ensure your lab’s energy needs are met, as well as maintaining his body weight and confirm that he is not feeling hungry, you should feed a diet that has mid to high levels of protein, are low in fat and also contain high-quality sources of carbohydrates for a full belly feeling and for energy maintenance.

Lab puppies should also ideally be fed an adult formula, as they really don’t need the extra fat contained in most puppy formulas and can also grow more quickly than their skeletons, which results in skeletal disorders.

Labs are not known to be a particularly allergenic breed, but anytime you switch your pooch’s food, watch for dog allergy symptoms such as rashes, excessive shedding or hives. You should also watch for loose stools or an upset stomach. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, try switching to a hypoallergenic dog food to rule out food-based allergies.

Labs also are not known to need a diet with particular supplements, but anytime a breed has the potential for obesity, extra glucosamine and chondroitin can help prevent joint damage. All dogs can also benefit from fatty acids for a shiny coat and probiotics to ensure healthy gut bacteria.

Different Ways of Feeding Your Dog

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to feeding a Labrador. You can feed your dog kibble or you can feed your dog a raw diet comprised of raw meat and bones. Each has benefits and drawbacks.

Kibble is an affordable and convenient way to feed your pet. It is portable, takes little storage space and is relatively odorless. You can also be certain that your dog is getting all the vitamins and minerals he requires in these nutrient dense, compressed packages.

On the other hand, there have been cases in the past where recalled dog foods have been responsible for illness or even the death of pets. It is hard to select a good quality dog food and to know what all the ingredients in kibble are.

The raw diet mimics a dog’s ancestral diet. Your dog is a carnivore by nature and in the wild would subside on raw meat and bones. You can also be sure of what you’re feeding your animal, as you will be providing food “right from the source”.

On the other hand, the price of food, in general, is soaring so feeding your dog a raw meat diet may not suit your budget. It is also difficult to know for certain that your dog is getting all the nutrient he needs. A raw food diet will mean lots of storage space is required and this type of diet will be more time-consuming for you in terms of preparation.

Finally, there is a much bigger risk to both your dog and to you and your family: Cross-contamination and potential food poisoning.

Labrador Dog Food Choices – Dry Kibble

– Is Kibble Healthy?

Dry kibble is a great way to feed any dog and this includes Labradors. Not only is this food easy to access, it is also inexpensive when compared to other diets, like the Raw Food Diet. Kibble is also specially formulated to contain all the protein, fat, and fiber your dog needs, as well as vitamins and minerals in a small, handy package.

Kibble also helps keep your pup’s oral health in tip-top condition as the hard pieces help scrape disease-causing plaque and tartar off your dog’s teeth.

It is safe to say that kibble is great for dogs. However, certain dog food brands have been recalled or to blame for dogs getting sick. Stick to reputable brands and read on to find out which dog food ingredients to avoid when selecting a kibble for your precious pooch.

– Convenient Kibble

Kibble is a very convenient way to feed your dog. After all, it is so easy to find and a great option in terms of price point for feeding your animal. On top of this, you can rest assured that your dog is getting the right amounts of each nutrient by checking the guaranteed analysis on the bag.

Kibble is also easy to transport and stores well. Most dried kibble will stay fresh for at least three months, so you can keep some up at the cottage over summer time without worrying it will go bad.

Kibble also makes an easy on-the-go treat and is relatively inoffensive when it comes to odor.

– Dog Food Downside

The main disadvantage of kibble is that it is easy for dishonest manufacturers to “hide” things in kibble that you don’t necessarily want your dog eating.

You should avoid dog food that contains any harmful fillers—this means ingredients that have no nutritional benefit for your dog and serve only to bulk up the food to up the volume without upping the nutritional content. Your dog would never encounter soy, wheat, or corn in the wild, so you shouldn’t ever buy foods that contain these ingredients.

Manufacturers will also sometimes grind up and include inedible parts of animals in kibble, such as beaks and hooves. Any food that has meat by-product marked as an ingredient should be avoided.

In addition, products that use expired meat products or meat products otherwise unsuitable for human consumption, like road kill, should be avoided for a healthy pup. Reading reviews online will often reveal these facts.

Finally, many dogs suffer from allergies. A common, yet little-known dog allergen is actually chicken, which is an ingredient that exists in most dog foods. This is not to say that dog food with chicken should be avoided, but if your dog has undiagnosed issues such as rash or hives, then switching it to a dog food without chicken may be a great test.

How Much to Feed Your Hungry Hound

As labs are prone to carrying a little bit of extra weight around the middle, we recommend that your lab should never be allowed to free feed. Your dog should be fed at set times and set quantities throughout the day.

All dogs’ food will have a suggested feeding quantity printed on the bag. You should use these as guidelines but also use your discretion. If you have an active dog that is at a healthy weight, then, by all means, feed it the recommended portion on the bag.

If your dog, however, is overweight or inactive due to age or lifestyle, it may be appropriate to feed your lab about 2/3 of the portion recommended for a dog of his size. Excess weight on a dog can be difficult for it to shed and can cause joint and heart problems. 

How Often to Feed Your Labrador

We recommend feeding your lab smaller portions, at least twice a day. This is a great strategy to use from a metabolic point of view since labs are prone to weight gain. Like humans, the more small meals in a day you can provide, the better for weight control and the less likely your dog is to feel hungry and desperate for food, resulting in overeating.

Smaller meals also reduce your dog’s risk of developing bloat. Bloat is a serious life-threatening condition that affects all dog breeds but especially large breeds with deep chests. You can reduce the risk of bloat by making sure plenty of water is accessible, feeding multiple, small meals throughout the day and limiting activity right before and after eating.

Best Dog Food for Labs

 

1. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

 

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Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Original Turkey & Chicken, 26-Pound Bag
  • SAVE 25%: When you buy any two select Wellness, WHIMZEES, Old Mother Hubbard, Holistic Select, or Eagle Pack products and save 25%. Offer valid until 2/28/18.
  • GRAIN FREE: 100% grain free, complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your dog.

Last update on 2018-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wellness Core is a delicious and grain-free dry dog kibble. This dog food contains 34% protein, which is high enough to support a high-energy dog, such as a lab, even if your pet is an active working dog. The high-quality proteins sources are made up of low-fat turkey and chicken, which may be an issue if your dog suffers from allergies but are otherwise fantastic sources of protein.

This dog food hovers around 15% in fat, which is appropriate for a large breed dog that is prone to weight gain. It’s also ideal for a dog on a diet. This doesn’t mean that it skimps of fatty acids, however. This formula contains both omega-3 and 6 which not only promote a shiny coat and healthy skin but also protect the heart.

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This dog food also contains high-quality sources of fiber such as potatoes and broccoli. This will help your pup feel fuller for longer as well as keep his bowel regular. Fiber is also extremely important for weight control. On top of the fiber, Wellness Core contains probiotics to aid in healthy digestion.

Finally, this formula contains antioxidants for a strong and healthy immune system and glucosamine to help support healthy joints.

The Bottom Line? This dog food is reasonably priced and contains no harmful fillers or additives. Ideal for a dog on a diet, this high-protein and low-fat formula will allow your dog to stay active and feel full without piling on calories. It also contains fatty acids, antioxidants and is enriched with glucosamine.

ProsCons
  • Reasonably priced
  • Grain-Free
  • No wheat, corn, or soy
  • No artificial flavor or color
  • No preservatives or meat by-products
  • Contains chicken

2. Wilderness Blue Buffalo High Protein Dry Adult Dog Food

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BLUE Wilderness Adult Grain Free Salmon Dry Dog Food 24-lb
  • Contains one (1) 24-lb bag of BLUE Wilderness Adult Grain Free Salmon Dry Dog Food
  • Always features real meat. Made with deboned salmon, chicken meal and fish meal to supply the protein your dog needs

Last update on 2018-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Blue Buffalo Wilderness is an inexpensive and delicious dry dog kibble. High in protein but completely free of chicken or poultry by-products, this formula will help your dog stay active and energetic without having to worry that your pet is consuming indigestible parts of poultry. Low-fat salmon and chicken meal will help your dog develop and maintain long, lean muscles..

Blue Buffalo is also low in fat sliding in at around 15% fat content, which is ideal for a pup plagued with weight problems. It does, however, contain the necessary essential fatty acids to maintain a healthy coat and moisturized skin.

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This formula is free of any wheat, corn, or soy products and also contains no preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. The exclusive LifeSource bits are cold pressed to maintain maximum potency and provide your dog with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for optimal immune system function.

Calcium and phosphorous will help keep your pup’s bones and teeth strong and healthy while glucosamine will help your dog maintain his joints as he ages.

The Bottom Line? This food is cheap and contains high-quality ingredients. Although some dogs don’t like the LifeSource bits, they enrich the food with antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and glucosamine for complete joint and bone health. It is also low in fat but high in high-quality proteins and fiber to keep your dogs active all day long.

ProsCons
  • Inexpensive
  • No chicken or poultry by-products
  • No wheat, corn, or soy
  • Low fat
  • Contains essential fatty acids
  • Contains glucosamine, phosphorous, and calcium
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Some dogs don’t like the texture of the LifeSource bits

3. Taste of the Wild, Canine Formula

Sale
Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food, High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison and Venison
  • A grain-free formula with sweet potatoes and peas provides highly digestible energy for your active dog.
  • Made with real roasted meat, this formula offers a taste sensation like no other.

Last update on 2018-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Taste of the Wild series is a line of delicious, healthy, and inexpensive dog foods that are made to mimic the way a canine would eat in the wild. This dog food is grain-free and comes in several different flavors to satisfy your dog’s palate.

The real roasted meats in the Taste of the Wild provide high levels of protein balanced with moderate fat levels around 18%. Easy to digest, high-quality sources of fiber such as sweet potatoes and peas also provide long-lasting, slow-burning energy, as well as keep him regular and support gut health.

Naturally occurring pre- and pro-biotics also assist in this task and this formula is appropriate for pups with sensitive tummies.

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The Taste of the Wild dog food is enriched with essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. Fatty acids not only keep your dog’s coats looking sleek and his skin healthy, but they also protect and maintain heart health. Fruit and veggie sources of antioxidants like blueberries and raspberries also keep your pet’s immune system in tip-top shape.

The Bottom Line? This grain-free dry dog kibble is reasonably priced and your pup is sure to love the taste of the real roasted meats. This high-protein formula contains delicious bison and venison and has moderate fat content to help support the healthy choices of your dieting dog. It also contains pre and pro-biotics, as well as containing lots of high-quality fiber to help keep your pup’s tummy happy. Antioxidants ensure protection from disease and illness while essential fatty acids maintain heart help and keep skin and coat looking shiny and healthy.

ProsCons
  • Variety of flavors
  • Free of corn, soy, and grain
  • Appropriate for sensitive stomachs
  • High fiber
  • Promotes healthy immune system
  • In some of the flavors, the type of fish used is not specified
  • Contains chicken

4. Orijen Adult Dog Food

Orijen Adult Dog Food 28.6lb bag
  • Orijen Adult Dog Food 28.6lb bag
  • 28.6 pounds

Last update on 2018-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are looking to come as close to a raw food diet as you can without in fact feeding a raw food diet, you may have found what you’re looking for in Orijen. This premium dog kibble is high protein and is made up of an impressive 85% meat, to mimic the way your carnivorous canine would nourish itself in the wild.

The 38-44% protein content will help your dog sustain his energy levels all day long, but beware feeding this to a dog that is not full grown as your don’t want to put your pooch at risk of overgrowing and damaging his skeleton.

On top of being just high in protein, 2/3 of the included meats are fresh or raw, meaning that your dog can absorb vitamins and nutrients the way he was intended to. The remaining 1/3 of the meat inclusion is air-dried and all meat products used in Orijen dog food is fit for human consumption.

The meat used in Orijen dog food ranges from tasty red meats like boar and lamb to poultry and fresh eggs and even includes fish. Fish oil is a great source of essential fatty acids that keep the coat shiny, the skin healthy and protected by a moisture barrier and protects your pup’s heart.

Orijen also includes organs and cartilage in their dog kibble formula. OK, so now you might be wondering why this is beneficial to your pet. Well, organ meat actually contains concentrated doses of essential vitamins and minerals as well as amino acids. Cartilage and bone provide your pup with calcium and phosphorous, which helps keep your pup’s bones strong and healthy.

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Orijen contains less than 20% carbohydrates. These are derived from high-quality fruit and vegetable sources which help keep your dog’s system running smoothly and support gut health. This formulation also ensures that your pup’s blood sugar levels stay optimal, meaning he has sustainable energy and doesn’t feel hungry.

It also helps him maintain body weight. However, if your lovely lab is prone to weight gain, the 35% fat content on this grain free dog food may be too high for him, unless you feed your pet portion smaller than the recommended dose.

The Bottom Line? This product has won multiple best dog food awards over the years and it’s no wonder: Orijen is grain-free, contains only ingredients fit for human consumption, and mirrors the way a dog would eat in the wild. Orijen comes with a pretty price tag and the fat content is definitely on the high side for a lab, but you can rest assured he is getting all the nutrients he needs in a form as close to raw as possible.

ProsCons
  • Biologically appropriate
  • High in protein
  • Supports optimal blood sugar levels
  • Contains essential fatty acids
  • Supports healthy bones
  • High in fat
  • Expensive
  • Contains chicken

5. Fromm Family Foods 33 lb. Gold Nutritionals Dog Food

Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold Dog Food 33 lb
  • Large Breed 50+
  • Added cartilage to support joint health.

Last update on 2018-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Fromm’s adult dry kibble is specially formulated for dogs over 50 lb. In terms of fat and protein content, this formula has the best combination on this list at 23% protein and 12% fat. This combination will support your dog’s energy levels but will also assist in weight maintenance for your pudge-prone lab.

The protein is derived from low-fat sources such as turkey, chicken, duck, and eggs. This may be a problem if your dog has a poultry allergy but otherwise, these are fantastic quality sources of protein.

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Probiotics help your dog to digest his food and assist in maintaining optimal gut health. Salmon oil provides the essential fatty acids your dog need to keep his coat and skin healthy and also protects your pup’s heart. Quality sources of fiber such as flaxseed, barley, and brown rice help your dog to feel satisfied throughout the day and maintain appropriate energy levels.

The Bottom Line? This holistic dog food contains the perfect ratios of protein, fat, and fiber to help keep your dog’s weight woes at bay. Made with high-quality ingredients, this kibble is also inexpensive and will help support your dog’s energy levels and keep his tummy, coat, skin, and heart healthy.

ProsCons
  • Holistic
  • Inexpensive
  • Low in fat
  • High-quality sources of fiber
  • Contains probiotics
  • Contains no corn or wheat
  • Contains salmon oil
  • Contains chicken


All dogs are different and it might take some experimentation to find the ideal food for your lab. Hopefully, this list will give you a good starting point. Your choice will mostly come down to your dog’s personal tastes and needs and your budget.

When selecting a food for your dog, remember that labs—especially as they age—are prone to weight gain. Unless your dog is extremely active, you should select a food that has lower fat levels with enough protein and carbohydrates to support his energy levels.

Any food you select should also be enriched with essential fatty acids and ideally, contains glucosamine and chondroitin. Feed your lab with love. Have you tried any of these foods or do you feel we’ve missed a great product for labs? Let us know in the comments below!