Diet & Nutrition Basics For The Labrador Retriever
By: Sharda Baker
Sharda Baker here.
In this article, I would like to discuss diet and nutrition for the Labrador Retriever.
In particular we will discuss dry foods versus moist food plus look at homemade food.
Let's get started then shall we?.
DIET AND NUTRITION BASICS:
Not all dog foods are
created equal, and not all dogs’ needs are the
same when it comes to nutrition. It is important to understand
what type of diet and nutrition is best for your Labrador.
If you consider this logically, it only makes sense that a
large dog such as a Labrador, would have different
nutritional requirements than a lap dog such as a Bichon
Frise Knowing some basic diet and nutrition facts will help
you determine what type of a diet is best for your Lab.
OMNIVORES NOT CARNIVORES
There is a misconception
that dogs are only meat-eating animals called carnivores. This could
not be farther from the truth. In fact, many dogs enjoy
vegetables and some types of fruit as much as they seem to enjoy their
dog food. Labrador dogs require
many of the same vitamins and minerals as humans to be
healthy and maintain shiny coats, good teeth, bones and muscles, as
well as keep energy levels up.
WHAT ARE THE DIETARY
NEEDS OF A LABRADOR DOG?
Labradors require a variety of foods that include all the building
blocks of life, including:
If you notice that your dog has any skin conditions, hyperactivity,
listlessness, or poor coat quality, you will need to examine the label
of the food that you are currently feeding. A veterinarian can then
advise you on the proper amounts of the dietary elements that your
Labrador may need.
You should avoid foods that contain primarily corn or wheat,
by-products or excessive amounts of chemical preservatives. To check if
your food has more cereal components than protein, soak the dry feed in
water for 20 minutes. If the feed becomes mush, it is most likely
mostly corn or wheat.
In addition, check the protein content of the food. A less active older
dog will need a lower amount of protein, with the base being about 21%.
The more active the dog is, the higher the amount of protein that is
needed in the diet. Puppies
and pregnant females will require special diets to deal
with the stresses that their bodies are going through.
Many diets are available for dogs, including the raw food diet. Just as
expected, this diet advocates that feeding of raw meaty bones, raw
vegetables and some offal. There are commercial diets
available that encompass this diet, and many breeders and vets
recommend the raw diet for active dogs and dogs in training.
Since it is difficult for most individuals to carefully control the
amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that
their dog consumes in a day most people use a commercially prepared food.
A good PREMIUM commercially prepared food will have all the vitamins
and supplements needed for a healthy diet.
This is certainly not to say that homemade and home cooked
food is not a good idea. On the contrary, when done
correctly, home made food is extremely healthy for your
Labrador and can be an ideal solution for providing your Lab with
all the vitamins and supplements needed for a healthy diet.
FEEDING YOUR DOG
Going to the pet store or grocery store to pick a brand and
type of dog food can seem particularly overwhelming when you walk down
the aisle and see the dozens upon dozens of varieties of foods
available. If you take the time to read the labels and understand the
basic needs of your dog, you will find that there are only a few feeds
that meet your dog’s needs.
During a Labrador’s lifetime, the feeding requirements will
change. A puppy should be fed at least three times a day until it is
four months old. A young puppy must be fed more often, because it has a
smaller stomach and is growing at a very fast pace.
After four months of age it is recommended to decrease feeding to twice
a day. Some adult dogs only require feeding once a day, or may be given
free choice food if they are outdoors or are not over-eaters. Any
changes in feeding should be closely monitored to determine the effect
that they are having on the overall health of the dog. Fresh water
should always be available for all dogs and puppies.
Regularly scheduled feeding will help with housetraining as well. A
schedule of feeding means a schedule for toileting.
WET VS. DRY
The first decision
that you have to make is whether you are going to feed
wet, dry or a combination of wet and dry foods. There are advantages and disadvantages to
both types of food.
Wet food is often more palatable for dogs of all ages, and can be
particularly important to feed when your puppy is very young or your
Labrador is very old. Dogs with dental or intestinal problems may need
to be fed wet food at least for a short period of time on
recommendation by a veterinarian.
Most breeders and vets do not recommend a diet of only wet food,
as it does not have the same fiber and consistency as the dry food.
Dogs that are fed only wet food often have issues with producing
excessive amounts of gas and needing to go outside often to defecate.
Dry food is often rather unpalatable to a dog, particularly if they
have previously been fed a diet of wet food. Increasing the amount of
exercise and mixing a small amount of wet food in with the dry will
gradually allow them to switch over. If a dog is on a diet of dry food,
the food acts to clean
the teeth and promote
When feeding dry food, it
is important to make sure the dog has free access to clean water at all times.
Make sure that the major ingredient in the dry food is not corn, corn
meal or wheat, as this is largely filler that may swell up in
the dog’s stomach when the food is consumed.
your veterinarian or breeder approve the food that you are using. This
is usually indicated on the dog food bag. Your local veterinarians will
be able to provide a list of premium dog food brands available in your
In addition in both wet and dry foods, check to make sure that the food
contains the balanced nutrients your dog needs. It will need to have
carbohydrates, proteins, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.
By feeding this food based on the recommended serving size for your
Labrador you can be assured that your dog is getting their basic
dietary needs met. If your dog seems to be hungry or is not eating all
the recommended amounts of food, always check with your veterinarian
and adjust the amounts if necessary, based on the vet's advice.
We will cover more on diet and nutrition in later articles.
For further information on your Labrador's diet and
nutrition needs, please see our Insider's
Guide To The Labrador ebook and audio package.
All the best.
Until next time.
To Making All Of Your Dog Experiences Happy Ones!