Labrador retrievers are consistently ranked among the top three most popular dog breeds by American Kennel Club (AKC) registration statistics. These dogs are known for their loving temperaments, goofy personalities, and their value as a family pet. If you are looking for a dog that will get along well with your children, keep you entertained, and be a friend for life then you should look no further than the Labrador Retriever. While it is your Lab’s job to be your friend and companion, it is your duty to provide for your dog’s needs – that includes feeding him a healthy diet. Below you will find valuable information about meeting your Lab’s nutritional needs as well as some special considerations to make. You will also find recommendations for commercial dog foods for Labrador Retrievers.
Nutritional Needs for Labs
The Labrador Retriever, or Lab, is a medium- to large-sized breed that grows to a height of up to 2 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs between 55 and 80 pounds at maturity. These dogs are naturally muscular and athletic, developed as a working breed to retrieve fish, haul nets, and fetch ropes for fishermen. Labs are known as much for their high energy as for their intelligence, though they can also be calm and patient with children which makes them excellent family pets.
As a high-energy breed, the Labrador Retriever requires a commercial diet that will provide for its calorie needs – consider a commercial dog food that is specially formulated for active or working breeds. As is true with all dogs, protein is the most important component of a Labrador Retriever’s diet and it should come from high-quality sources of whole protein like chicken, turkey, lamb, and fish. Your dog’s diet should also provide healthy fats and oils as well as dietary fiber from digestible carbohydrates. One thing to be aware of with this breed is that the Labrador Retriever is prone to food allergies – they can develop as young as 5 months or as late as 12 years of age. If your Lab develops a food allergy you may need to switch to a limited ingredient diet made with a novel source of protein until you can identify the culprit. Then you will need to maintain a diet that is completely devoid of that ingredient for the rest of your dog’s life.
Special Considerations for Labs
While Labrador Retrievers may require a higher energy diet than more sedentary breeds it is important that you do not overfeed them. This breed has a high risk for obesity so be sure to follow the feeding recommendations on the food package – you should also limit the number of treats you give your lab and avoid feeding him table scraps. Exercise is also incredibly important for the Labrador Retriever to help maintain a healthy weight and to work off any excess energy that might lead to destructive behavior if your Lab bottles it up.
Another important factor to consider when feeding your Labrador Retriever is the fact that this breed has a tendency to eat very quickly and this puts it at risk for a condition called gastric dilation volvulus, or bloat. When your dog eats too quickly he also swallows a lot of air which can cause the abdomen to become distended and the stomach to twist on its axis. This can lead to dangerous consequences including loss of blood flow to the stomach, rupturing of the stomach wall, loss of blood supply to other vital organs, and even seizures and death. To prevent your Lab from developing this problem you should feed him several small meals throughout the day instead of one large meal and consider using a raised food bowl.
Labrador Retrievers may also have an increased risk for certain musculoskeletal issues due to their size – obesity increases the risk and severity of these conditions. An example of a musculoskeletal condition to which Labs are prone is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the ball of the femur pops out of the socket on the hip joint – this can be caused by an anatomical malformation, trauma to the joint, or it can be inherited. To help reduce your Lab’s risk for joint and bone problems as he ages, consider switching to a senior dog formula that is supplemented with chondroitin and glucosamine to support your aging Lab’s bones and joints. Do not offer your dog any nutritional supplements without first consulting your veterinarian and always check with your vet before making significant changes to your Lab’s diet.
Top Recommended Dog Foods for Labs
If you need some help in finding the right food for your Labrador Retriever, consider one of the commercial dog food brands discussed below. Be careful when considering a breed-specific formula for your dog – do not just assume that the formula will meet your dog’s needs without evaluating the product for yourself. Consider the ingredients list to make sure that the product is of high-quality before offering it to your dog.
Nutro Large Breed Adult Food
Nutro offers an extensive collection of wholesome dry food recipes including recipes specially formulated for puppies, toy breeds, small breeds, medium breeds, and large breed. All of Nutro’s formulas are made with the freshest, most high-quality ingredients available in the perfect balance of nutrients to ensure optimal nutrition. Not only do Nutro’s dry food formulas ensure proper nutrition for your dog, but they also guarantee improved digestion, improved skin and coat health, and irresistible taste. The Nutro Large Breed Adult formula is made with fresh chicken and chicken meal as well as whole-grain brown rice, and whole-grain oatmeal. This formula is rich in animal-based proteins, natural fibers, and balanced levels of calcium and phosphorus. Additionally, the Nutro Large Breed Adult formula is supplemented with chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy bones and joints. If you are looking for a high-quality dry food diet to provide optimal nutrition for your large-breed dog (like the Labrador Retriever), the Nutro Large Breed Adult Formula is definitely one to consider.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Adult
The Blue Buffalo Life Protection line of dog foods contains four large-breed adult formulas made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. The Chicken & Brown Rice formula contains protein-rich deboned chicken as well as a variety of wholesome fruits, veggies, and whole grains. The Fish & Oatmeal recipe contains fresh whitefish and menhaden fish meal as the top two ingredients followed by a selection of whole grains (like oatmeal and brown rice), fruits, and vegetables. All of Blue Buffalo’s products follow the “True Blue Promise” which excludes chicken and poultry by-product meals as well as artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors and corn, wheat, and soy ingredients. Simply put, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection line of dog foods is designed to support lean muscle mass and joint health in large-breed dogs – it also provides support for a healthy immune system and healthy skin and coat. This line of dog foods also includes a healthy weight formula which is perfect for Labrador Retrievers at risk for obesity.
Earthborn Holistic Large Breed Natural Dog Food
The Earthborn Holistic pet food company offers three different lines of pet food – Natural, Natural Grain-Free, and Moist Grain-Free. The Large Breed Natural formula belongs to the Natural Grain-Free line of Earthborn Holistic dry foods and it is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of large-breed dogs like the Labrador Retriever. This dry food formula contains chicken meal, a highly concentrated source of protein, as the first ingredient. This ingredient is followed by green peas, gluten-free tapioca, chicken fat, and ground flaxseed. The Large Breed Natural formula also contains an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables for antioxidant support and a collection of vitamins and minerals for holistic nutrition. The Large Breed Natural formula is inspired by the natural diet of wild wolves, designed to provide protein-rich nutrition with supporting fats and carbohydrates. Simply put, if you are in the market for a high-quality source of protein that is specially formulated for your Labrador Retriever, the Large Breed Natural formula from Earthborn Holistic is one to consider.
Owning and caring for a dog is a big responsibility, especially if your dog is an active and intelligent breed like the Labrador Retriever. Take the information in this article to heart when selecting a dog food for your Lab and keep the special considerations in mind.