If you are choosing a Labrador as your first dog, you may wonder, what do you feed your dog, what do they need to keep healthy, and what do they like to eat? And even if you are an experienced Lab owner, you may occasionally wonder, what is the best diet for Labradors?
The best diet for Labradors is a protein-rich high-quality diet consisting of 18-22% protein. Dogs can also obtain nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, they should have the right balance of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber for optimum health and longevity.
This article will explore the best diet for Labrador Retrievers and the ideal nutrients they need. We’ll cover precisely what they can and can’t eat, the various types of dog foods, including pros and cons, how much food your Lab should eat, how much water they need, whether they should eat bones, all about treats, and loads more!
To discover more about the best diet for Labradors, read on!
- What Nutrients Do Labradors Need?
- Are Labradors Carnivores?
- What Foods Can Labradors Eat?
- What Foods Can Labradors Not Eat?
- What Type of Dog Food is Best for Labrador Retrievers?
- Dry Foods
- Canned Wet Foods
- A Mix of Dry and Wet
- Home Produced Diet
- Raw Diet
- Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried
- Pros and Cons of Different Dog Food Types
- How Much Food Should a Labrador Eat?
- How Often Should I Feed My Labrador Puppy?
- Can Labradors Eat Bones?
- Best Treats for Labradors
- How Much Water Should Labradors Drink?
- Final Thoughts – The Importance of Nutrition
What Nutrients Do Labradors Need?
Labrador Retrievers need many different kinds of nutrients to survive. These are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.
But before we delve deeper, check out the below fascinating short video from Banfield Pet Hospital all about the power of dog nutrition and how providing the right food can significantly improve your dog’s health:
The nutritional content of all commercial dog foods has to follow the guidelines devised by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) who declare what can be used in pet foods.
I also found that the MSD Vet Manual publishes dog nutrient profiles. This has mountains of detail and even lists all the individual vitamins and minerals that your Labrador needs (should you wish to study them)! However, below are the main points:
The main nutritional requirement of Labradors is protein. Protein has several functions such as building and repairing tissues, providing energy, and keeping the immune and musculoskeletal system strong. The amount required by puppies and adult Labradors is different:
Growing Lab puppies require a minimum of 22% protein whereas adult dogs require a minimum of 18% protein.
The protein is measured on a dry matter basis which means once all the water from the food has been removed. For example, fresh chicken contains 70-75% water, but after this is removed, the percentage of actual protein is somewhere between 10-20%.
The second main nutritional requirement for your Labrador is fat. Fat comes from protein and provides energy. It is also necessary for the normal function and development of body cells, nerves, muscles, and tissues. Again, the amount required for puppies and adult dogs differ.
The recommended fat content for growing Lab puppies is 8%, and for an adult dog, 5%.
A dog’s precise nutritional requirements will depend on many factors such as life stage, breed, size, activity level, and general health. For example, a lively and growing puppy may need double the calories of an adult dog of the same breed. Senior dogs may need 20% fewer calories than middle-aged dogs.
As further examples, my well-exercised dog needs totally different nutrition than a toy dog that likes to laze around all day, and a pregnant dog will require a ton more calories than that same lazy lap dog.
So, what are the recognized life stages of dogs as defined by the AAFCO? These are:
- gestation/lactation (pregnancy and nursing)
- growth (includes puppies)
- adult maintenance
- all life stages
In case you were wondering, a diet designed for all life stages means one that meets both the nutritional requirements for growth and reproduction as well as adult maintenance. This diet is therefore suitable for Labradors of any age.
However, an “all life stage” diet tends to be higher in calories, so only choose this diet depending on your dog’s circumstances.
For example, if your dog is a working dog or very energetic then you may opt for an “all life stages” diet due to the extra calories and nutrition needed. But if your dog is a senior, quite inactive, or overweight, then you would choose a diet for adult maintenance.
As dogs grow and their bodies age, their requirements for nutrients, vitamins, and minerals change.
“Different quantities and ratios of nutrients, as well as different feeding rates, are ideal for different life stages.”AAFCO
Are Labradors Carnivores?
Many people like to think of dogs as pure carnivores, but are they just meat-eaters?
Labradors are not carnivores, but omnivores. Whilst protein makes up most of a dog’s diet, the domesticated dog also now obtains nutrients from not only grains but from fruits and vegetables.
Dogs have adapted to a starch-rich diet over thousands of years of domestication. They have evolved to become omnivores and have shown that they can flourish on a variety of foods all of which are valuable sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
We know that the domesticated dog is a direct descendent of the grey wolf. This study showed that wolves were adaptive true carnivores, whereas modern-day dogs differ in many digestive and metabolic traits associated with omnivores.
By the way, if you are thinking about buying something for your dog, check out my favorite gear below. Also, check out the 50% off your first box at Ollie!
What Foods Can Labradors Eat?
We now know what nutrients dogs need, but exactly what foods can Labradors eat? Let’s take a closer look at the main foods Labradors can eat?
Labradors can eat a range of foods that are perfectly safe and healthy. These include proteins – such as beef, lamb, pork, and chicken; grains such as wheat, oats, corn, and rice; dairy such as yogurt and cheese; and fruit and vegetables such as apples, berries, carrots, and peas.
The above are some general examples but let’s now take a more comprehensive look at the principal foods Labradors can eat. I’ve grouped them in the below handy tables for you, but there are a few provisos you need to be aware of, so read on!
|Broccoli & Brussels Sprouts||Blueberries|
|Cabbage & Cauliflower||Coconut|
|Green Beans & Peas||Melon|
|Lettuce & Kale||Nectarine|
|Parsnips||Peach & Plum|
|Rutabaga & Turnip||Pear|
So, here are the provisos of feeding the above foods:
- Meats should be lean with all the fat removed. Avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage as they contain a lot of salt and seasoning.
- Most vegetables should be cooked first to help with digestion however raw carrots and green beans are fine. Here’s my top article on vegetables for your Lab that you may like.
- Remove all pits and seeds from fruits as they are a choking hazard. They also contain cyanide which is toxic to dogs when consumed in large quantities. If fruits are more your thing, check out this article, 29 Fruits Labradors Can Eat: And 5 They Can’t!
- Don’t feed raw eggs or raw fish due to the risk of salmonella or listeria.
- Nuts are not recommended due to their high-fat content which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. They are also a choking hazard.
- Avoid dairy foods if your dog is lactose intolerant.
You may also like this article, What Human Food Can Labradors Eat? 35 Best Foods for Labs, for even more insight.
What Foods Can Labradors Not Eat?
Several foods are poisonous to dogs and can have serious consequences if eaten. In some cases, just a small amount of toxic food can end in death. If your Lab accidentally ingests these foods you will need to seek immediate veterinary advice. So, what foods can Labradors not eat?
Labradors can not eat a range of foods including chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, alcoholic drinks, unbaked bread dough, and goods sweetened with xylitol. These are the most common foods whereby dogs suffered poisonings in the last few years.
I can’t imagine anyone wanting to give their Labrador a swig of beer, a margarita, or some candies. However, in general, poisoning episodes in dogs result from a lack of public knowledge of the food, or pets may easily have accidental access to them.
Below is a helpful table of the main foods Labradors can’t eat.
|Xylitol||Yeast dough||Black walnuts|
|Avocado||Tomato (green)||Moldy food|
I have a more in-depth article on all the foods that are poisonous to Labrador Retrievers that you may find beneficial.
If you are concerned that your dog may have consumed something dangerous, the Pet Poison Helpline is another useful resource that lists tons of poisonous stuff including plants, household items, and medications.
What Type of Dog Food is Best for Labrador Retrievers?
We all want the best for our Labradors and want to feed them the best diet to keep them healthy and happy. People usually feed their dog commercial dry food or wet canned food, however, there are various types of dog food and there’s no doubt, it can be overwhelming at first!
Here are the main types of dog foods you can feed your Labrador:
|Complete dry foods||Canned wet foods|
|A mix of dry and wet||Home produced diet|
|Complete raw diet||Dehydrated and freeze-dried|
According to the AAFCO guidelines, all commercial dog food should be complete and balanced. This means that the food must have all the nutrients required and that they must be in their correct ratios.
The AAFCO also provides comprehensive information on how to understand a dog food label. There is a ton of information here, but these are the main points:
- The packaging should state the ingredients of the food in descending order of predominance by weight.
- Details of specific nutrients should be prominent.
- Feeding directions must be given.
Therefore, when selecting dog food, you should check both the ingredients used AND the nutritional content of the food. All dog food should also display “The Nutritional Adequacy Statement” for the life stage the product is intended for.
This statement is designed for dog owners, vets, and nutritionists to evaluate the nutritional value of the food to their pets. Therefore, if you choose to feed your Lab a diet of dry or wet food, always check the packaging as this is the key to meeting all your Labrador’s needs.
High-quality protein sources (beef, chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, pork, etc.) should be high on the list, as should quality sources of grains, vegetables, fiber, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals.
High-quality dog foods will also include additional protein sources, such as eggs and plant-based proteins, such as vegetables, legumes, and grains.
So, what type of dog food is best for Labrador Retrievers?
The best type of dog food for Labrador Retrievers is dry food as this is more practicable for medium-large breeds, provides more nutrients per bite than wet food, and is inexpensive. Even if you opt for a high-quality brand, it will still be cheaper than canned wet foods.
Having said that, you should choose the diet that best suits your Labrador, depending on his needs, health, and lifestyle. But you must also satisfy your own needs and beliefs.
I’ll explain more about this in the next section, where we’ll take an individual look at the different types of food you can feed your Lab. This should help you to decide the type of food to feed your dog.
Dry foods are one of the most popular types of dog food. There are two varieties of complete dry dog food. These are KIBBLE and COLD-PRESSED DOG FOOD.
Cold-pressed dog food is quite popular in the UK and Europe and is becoming more widespread in the US and other regions. It is deemed a higher quality of kibble due to how it’s cooked.
So what exactly is kibble? Kibble is simply ground-up ingredients made into pellets of different shapes and sizes. This is made either through an extrusion process or through oven baking under high pressure or temperatures.
All kibble is made the same way by using the same kind of machinery. Even high-quality kibble made with the best ingredients is made using the same process.
What is cold-pressed dog food? Cold-pressed dog food is made by a unique cooking method. The food is produced at a much lower temperature and cooked quickly to retain greater nutritional value, vitamins, and flavor. It is then pressed into its desired shape. Cold-pressed pet food is the closest to feeding a raw food diet.
Both kibble and cold-pressed provide more nutrients per bite than wet food because they contain less moisture. This means you won’t have to feed as much to satisfy your Labrador’s appetite.
When comparing dry food with canned wet food, dry costs less per meal, and there can be less waste as it can be left in your Lab’s feeding dish longer, unlike canned, which needs to go back in the refrigerator. Dogs with dental problems may also benefit from dry food as it helps to clean their teeth and gums.
Dry dog food is the most practical choice for a medium-large dog, such as a Labrador. However, kibble and cold-pressed come in all shapes and sizes, so smaller breeds can choose a smaller variety.
Dry food may be fed dry, or you can occasionally make it into a tasty “gravy” by adding warm water. Some owners also like to add a topping to their dog’s food, such as cooked meats, fish, or vegetables, and this is exactly what I like to do with my dog.
Although I feed my dog a top brand of cold-pressed dog food, I often add a small amount of chicken, beef, turkey, or even a spoonful of Greek yogurt to her food, just to mix it up for her and vary the taste and texture. However, this isn’t really necessary if you choose a good quality product.
She also likes tuna in oil which helps keep her coat and skin shiny and healthy and reduces shedding. When I add a topping, I slightly reduce the quantity of her dry food to ensure that she is not putting on extra weight.
Check out Amazon’s Only Natural Cold-Pressed Dog Food if you’re new to cold-pressed pet food. This brand appeals to me because of its “honest pledge” to use 100% natural ingredients, as well as its ecological methods and openness. They also offer a 100% money-back guarantee, something I usually look for when trying something new.
Canned Wet Foods
Canned wet dog foods contain around 75% moisture whereas dry foods contain up to 10%. Therefore, the higher the water content, the fewer nutrients, so your Lab has to consume more food to get all the nutrition it needs.
Another thing to know is that not every brand of canned food provides sufficient protein that your Labrador needs.
Therefore, a wet diet can work out more expensive, especially if you have a medium-large breed of dog but may be ideal if your dog enjoys eating a larger portion. Also, a wet diet may be better for smaller breeds.
Be cautious of lower quality canned foods too as manufacturers often add thickeners such as wheat flour, white rice, or other grains.
Wet food may be more suitable if your dog is a picky eater or if you have a senior Labrador who has lost his appetite and who may find wet food more appetizing.
You can buy semi-moist dog foods however these are not as popular as they offer the least nutritional value and can also be expensive.
Unfortunately, dog food companies add substances such as sugar and salts to preserve moisture and shelf life. Many semi-moist foods are also loaded with artificial colors, chemical preservatives, and chemical flavor enhancers.
A semi-moist diet may not be appropriate for your Labrador Retriever especially if he is on the heavy side and needs to lose a few pounds.
However, semi-moist food may be the best choice if your Lab finds it difficult to digest all other types of food. He may also enjoy the meaty taste and find this type of food more palatable if he is an extremely fussy eater.
If you are contemplating this type of food you should seek the advice of your vet to determine the calorie content of the food and an appropriate daily portion for your Labrador.
A Mix of Dry and Wet
Some dog owners choose a mix of both dry and wet foods. The foods can be mixed together at each meal or you can alternate, giving wet in the morning and dry in the evening (or vice-versa).
I’ve also heard of Labrador owners, who generally feed dry food, occasionally use wet food as a topping in their dog’s bowl.
If you choose a mix of dry and wet foods, it’s best to stick with the same brand. Make sure you’re not increasing your dog’s calorie intake if mixing these foods, and as above, seek professional advice to make sure that your dog is getting the correct nutrition.
Home Produced Diet
Some Labrador owners like to feed their dogs a home-produced diet (known as home-feeders). Due to the convenience and variety of both dry and wet dog foods, this got me wondering exactly why someone would choose to be a home-feeder?
Here are the main reasons I discovered:
- Home-feeders sought alternatives to commercial pet foods as they were concerned about the nutritional value of the ingredients used.
- Home-feeders simply enjoyed preparing the food and strengthening the bond with their dog, or satisfying their views.
- Home-feeders believe their pets will simply not like or refuse to eat commercial dog food.
- A home-prepared diet may be needed to help with a diagnosis (eg, for a food elimination trial) or if a dog has several diseases for which no commercial diet exists.
- Home-feeders sought comfort for dogs with a chronic or terminal illness.
There are several disadvantages to the home preparation of dog food. It can be achieved, but it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, and it may end up being more expensive than the best quality dog food you can buy.
Home-made diets can provide complete nutrition, however, you need to make sure your Labrador gets the correct mix of protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. This can be quite difficult to do daily.
If you choose to prepare a home-cooked diet for your dog, it’s best to consult your vet first. You can also find professional pet nutritionists, certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, who have the expertise to customize a healthy diet for your Labrador.
It is recommended to cook all animal products to kill bacteria that could make your Labrador sick unless your dog is used to a specially prepared raw diet. Vegetables and grains should also be cooked to make them easier for your dog to digest.
My final thoughts on helping you decide on whether to feed your dog a home-produced diet would be:
- Do you have the time to prepare your dog’s daily meals?
- There are many top-quality commercial dog foods on the market that have all the nutritional requirements your dog needs.
- Your dog will need regular health checks to make sure he doesn’t have any nutrient deficiencies.
From three to four weeks onwards, it’s safe to start feeding your Labrador puppy raw food. Raw feeding is controversial but it’s based on the principle of feeding dogs the foods that they would have naturally consumed before domestication.
Although sled dogs and racing greyhounds have long eaten a raw food diet, every now and again there will be a trend for feeding dogs an all-raw diet consisting of raw meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and some dairy.
However, there are two important factors to consider when deciding to feed a raw diet to your Labrador. The first is to ensure that your Lab is getting a complete and balanced diet and all the nutrients he needs to keep him healthy and free from disease. This is particularly important when feeding a growing puppy.
Like homemade diets formulating raw diets can be difficult as you need to ensure you are not either under or overfeeding key nutrients, especially if your Labrador is either pregnant, lactating, or sick, and therefore has different nutritional requirements.
The second biggest concern is food safety issues relating to bacterial or parasitic contamination in raw meat. Food poisoning is a major threat to both human and dog health when feeding raw foods.
If you are considering feeding your Labrador a raw food diet, you should make sure you are fully aware of the safe and proper handling of raw foods and all associated food safety issues.
Many raw-feeders will claim that feeding a raw diet has numerous health benefits, ranging from higher energy levels, better digestion, a shinier coat, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, and generally living a healthier life.
However, there have been insufficient studies to evaluate the risk or benefits of feeding raw meats to dogs, therefore, the majority of the believed benefits of feeding raw foods remain unproven.
But, there is sufficient evidence for vets to discuss the human health risks of raw diets with pet owners according to this study from the Canadian Veterinary Journal.
The American Veterinary Medical Association also discourage pet owners from feeding dogs raw or unprocessed meat and eggs due to the risk of disease:
As I would like to take a balanced view of this subject, I learned that supporters of raw food diets say that commercially processed dog food can also contain harmful bacteria. They claim the whole “bad bacteria issue” is exaggerated, as long as the correct hygiene protocols are followed.
If you choose a raw diet for your Labrador you can either prepare the food at home or you can purchase commercial raw food products. These range from complete foods, which are usually sold frozen or have been freeze-dried, which leads me on to the next section.
Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried
You have the option of feeding your dog a dehydrated or freeze-dried diet and both have become more popular over the past few years.
Both of these diets are similar in that they have their moisture removed to preserve the food so artificial preservatives are not required, however, they do have quite a few differences.
Dehydrated foods are partially cooked at low temperatures to remove most of the water. The food is heated but not fully cooked so nutrients and enzymes remain intact. They are a complete diet and are often seen as a step-up from regular extruded kibble.
When preparing dehydrated dog food, you just need to add warm water. The result is food similar in texture to canned wet food but far less processed. These foods are convenient to feed, easy to store as they do not need refrigeration, and have a long shelf life.
A dehydrated diet is a good choice if your dog has a sensitive stomach as the food is easier on the digestive system due to the gentle cooking process.
Freeze-dried foods are essentially a raw diet presented differently.
In freeze-dried dog food, the raw ingredients are frozen first and then added to a strong vacuum that converts the moisture into vapor. The food is then packaged in an airtight container. This process decreases the number of bacteria such as salmonella, unlike a true raw diet.
Freeze-dried food has the appearance of kibble and does not have to be rehydrated before being eaten, however, your Labrador may find it more palatable and easier to digest if some water is added first.
They are usually very high protein diets with fruits and vegetables occasionally added. Freeze-dried is a great alternative if you want to feed a raw diet but don’t like to handle raw food but want to feed a healthier and less processed diet.
You can incorporate freeze-dried into your dog’s diet by mixing it with other types such as kibble or wet.
These foods are more expensive than regular kibble but since the food has most of the moisture removed they are more nutritionally dense, so you feed your dog less.
Pros and Cons of Different Dog Food Types
To help you decide on the best diet for your Labrador I have put all the above information in handy tables for you to easily visualize the pros and cons of each type of food.
|DRY DOG FOOD||WET FOOD (including semi-moist)|
|More practicable for medium-large breeds||More suited for smaller or toy breeds|
|Inexpensive and less waste||Some dogs find wet more palatable than dry foods|
|Denser providing more nutrients per bite than wet||Good for picky and senior dogs|
|Convenient and easy to feed||Good for hydration|
|No need to worry about nutritional deficiencies||No need to worry about nutritional deficiencies|
|No need to refrigerate||Dogs can enjoy a larger portion per meal due to the high water content|
|Good for “grazers” as can be left in the bowl longer||Good for dogs who have trouble chewing|
|Can add “toppings” such as cooked meats, fish or veg for variety||Semi-moist may be good for dogs that find foods difficult to digest|
|Can add water to make a tasty gravy||Has a longer shelf life than dry but there can be more waste if the food is uneaten|
|Comes in many shapes and sizes to suit your dog||More expensive than dry foods|
|Great for interactive feeders||Be aware of added salt and sugar in semi-moist|
|Good for the teeth||May contribute to gum disease|
|Poor quality brands often add “fillers” and low-quality ingredients||Poor quality brands often add “fillers” and low-quality ingredients|
|A MIX of DRY & WET||HOME PRODUCED|
|Have the best of both dry and wet||You control your dog’s food and nutrients|
|Can mix in the same bowl or at separate feeds||Good for picky eaters|
|Provides variety||Can help with bonding|
|Adviseable to keep to the same brand||Can help with a medical diagnosis or healing|
|Need to track calorie intake||Expensive and time-consuming|
|May require the advice of a vet||Need to ensure correct nutrition is being given so regular health checks are advised|
|RAW||DEHYDRATED & FREEZE-DRIED|
|You control your dog’s food and nutrients||Most of the moisture is removed|
|Need to ensure correct nutrition is provided||More natural as no preservatives are added|
|May be unsuitable for sick or senior dogs||Nutrients remain intact|
|Risk of food contamination||Freeze-dried is essentially raw|
|No proven health benefits except for better digestion||Long shelf life and easy to store|
|Expensive and time-consuming if preparing at home||Convenient|
|Regular health checks advised||More expensive|
Before transitioning your Labrador from one type of food to another, you may wish to talk to your veterinarian about the individual benefits and risks.
How Much Food Should a Labrador Eat?
Once you have decided on the type of diet to feed your dog, you now have the next hurdle! How much food should a Labrador eat?
The amount of food Labradors should eat depends on their size, activity level, age, whether a puppy, adult, or senior, and overall health. Serious illness, pregnancy, or nursing can also increase a dog’s energy needs. The key is to make sure you don’t overfeed or underfeed your dog.
Don’t worry though because if you are feeding commercial dog food the packaging should display the recommended feeding guidelines for your dog’s life stage. Most brands also display helpful tables or calculators on their websites.
These must specify how much weight of the food to give per weight of the dog but you also need to assess your dog’s activity level. For example, inactive dogs may need 10% less than what’s advised on the food label compared to an energetic dog who may need 20% to 40% more.
As stated above, you should seek the advice of your vet or a pet nutritionist if you choose to feed a home-produced diet, raw, or a mix of dry and wet, to ensure your Labrador is getting the correct nutrients and calories.
How Often Should I Feed My Labrador Puppy?
Growing puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs and they need feeding more frequently at various stages of growth. Here’s how often you should feed your Labrador puppy depending on his age:
|AGE OF LABRADOR PUPPY||DAILY MEALS|
|6 to 12 weeks||4|
|12 to 24 weeks||3|
|24 weeks onwards||2|
Newborn Labrador puppies receive all their nutrients by feeding on their mother. However, from around three to four weeks old, it’s safe to start the weaning process onto a new diet.
Growing puppies need to take in enough calories, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals for rapid growth and development that will set them on the right path to a healthy life.
Here’s a helpful 3-minute video on how many times a day dogs should eat, from puppies to adults:
As Labradors are a medium-large breed they should also eat dog food suitable for large breeds, even as a puppy. In fact, large breed dog food is essential to your Labrador’s health.
Large breed foods contain a higher amount of protein, and lower amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and fat. This is nutritionally formulated to ensure they don’t grow too fast as this can cause painful conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
Although adult dogs can eat just once daily, most Lab owners prefer feeding twice a day. This makes it easier for the dog to digest the food, helps to control hunger, and prevents bloat (GDV), which can be life-threatening. My dog definitely prefers to eat twice a day.
Can Labradors Eat Bones?
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “give a dog a bone?” But can Labradors eat bones?
Labradors can eat bones. They are a good source of nutrients especially calcium and phosphorus and they can help to clean your dog’s teeth and keep them strong. However, you must never feed cooked bones and make sure the bone is larger than your dog’s muzzle.
Cooked bones become soft and can easily splinter in your dog’s mouth or throat or can cause choking. Beef or lamb bones are better than chicken or pork as they are stronger and won’t easily splinter.
The best bone to give to your Labrador is one suited to his size such as a large beef shank bone. All bones should be larger than the length of the muzzle, making them impossible to swallow whole. Always supervise your Labrador when giving him a bone.
Best Treats for Labradors
Many dog owners like to give treats to their dogs, but as they don’t have to follow AAFCO standards, how do you know which are the best treats for Labradors?
The best treats for Labradors are ones containing quality ingredients that are full of nutrients and are low in calories and fat. Dog treats should contain no artificial preservatives, colorings, or chemicals. You can also feed healthy fruits and vegetables as an alternative.
You will be able to find high-quality treats on the market, however, they can be quite expensive but I’m happy to pay more if it means my dog stays healthy and happy.
There are a few main types of commercial dog treats, and you should choose the type you need. For example, do you need training treats, dental treats, chew treats, or even natural calming treats? I always like to have a selection handy for my dog.
No matter what their purpose, treats should make up no more than 10% of your Lab’s daily calories.
When buying healthy dog treats, especially chew treats, make sure you choose ones suitable for large breeds. I like to give my dog bully sticks made from 100% all-natural beef, such as these from Downtown Pet Supply (check price on Amazon). They make a great chew stick, or you can cut them up into smaller pieces.
How Much Water Should Labradors Drink?
Labradors should drink one ounce (30 ml) of water every day for each pound that they weigh. However, there can be a few other variables to consider, such as age, activity level, type of food eaten (dry or wet), weather, medication, pregnancy, etc.
Make sure your dog’s water bowl is filled up at all times, and change the water every 2-3 hours. I love dog water fountains such as the PetSafe Drinkwell from Amazon. I particularly like this one as it’s multi-tiered, ideal for large dogs, and comes with carbon filters to remove odor and bad taste.
Some other ideas to keep your dog hydrated include giving ice cubes, adding water to kibble or cold-pressed food, or making fun playtimes with a hose in the summer.
Final Thoughts – The Importance of Nutrition
Many pet food companies have invested millions of dollars into researching what ingredients contain the maximum levels to achieve a healthy, balanced diet to aid not only essential puppy growth but also mental and physical development.
It’s your job to do your due diligence and choose the best one for your doggo! If your dog is eating a complete and balanced diet, there’s no need to feed additional supplements unless recommended by a veterinarian. So, here’s my best advice:
Choose a diet that suits your dog’s life stage, your beliefs, and your lifestyle, and buy the best quality dog food you can afford. If you do this your dog will live a longer and healthier life and you will both be happier.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and it’s helped you decide on the best diet for your Labrador.
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