Labrador retrievers, also referred to as Labradors or Labs, are medium to large-sized dogs. Their popularity worldwide is unquestionable, given their loyal, loving nature. They’ve topped the popularity scale plenty of times in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Israel. Studies have shown that Labs are five times as many as any other similar-sized dog breed in the UK and US.
Although their name suggests that they originate from Canada, Labradors are actually from Newfoundland, Europe. Records show that they have been in existence since the 16th century. Labradors were introduced to England in the 19th century by the Earl of Malmesbury, who was instantly fascinated by them.
By 1903, Labrador retrievers were recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1903, and later by the American Kennel Club in 1917. To date, they are known for their obedience, friendliness, and loyalty, among many more wonderful attributes. They have since climbed the ranks to become assistance dogs who participate in police, military, rescue, and detection missions.
How Much to Feed Puppy Food to Your Labrador
So how do you care and nurture Labrador pups? By adequately feeding them nutritious meals to help them grow up healthy. Adequate feeding entails giving them just the right food and portions to avoid starving or overfeeding them.
Getting them on the proper diet from a tender age is crucial for promoting good health. We are going to delve into their different growth stages and how much to feed a Lab puppy.
Like most babies, puppies should also feed on their mother’s milk to get balanced nutrients that will help them develop a healthy immune system. This suckling stage should extend until they are eight weeks old.
The next step is a transition stage commonly referred to as the weaning process, which happens between their sixth and eighth week. It’s here that you can slowly introduce your puppy to solid foods.
- 2 – 4 Months Old
By the time a Labrador puppy is eight weeks old, they’ll weigh approximately 7 kg. They’ll require to consume two cups of food per day, spread through four feeding sessions per day. This should continue well until they are about three months old.
By this point, their appetite will prevail, and you can reduce their feeding frequency to thrice a day, but in turn, increase their portions to three cups.
- 4 – 6 Months Old
At the onset of this stage, your Lab puppy should weigh approximately 11 kg. They will be very active and will seem to be even hungrier than before. Although you’ll feed them thrice a day, you should initially increase their servings to 80g, then gradually progress to 100g. Their total daily quantity should not exceed 300g.
When to Switch to Adult Dog Food
At six months, your puppy is almost fully grown up. They should weigh just about 23 kg. By this point, you should reduce their feeding frequency to twice a day, with each serving weighing approximately 175g. If you’re wondering how long to feed puppy food to your Lab, the answer is until they are fully grown.
When you ask your vet when to switch to adult dog food, they’ll tell you to wait for the 12-month mark. By this time, your Labrador is fully grown. Although you might be tempted to overfeed them, remember that Labradors are prone to obesity. Limit their daily portions to 450g, and you’ll have yourself a healthy pup!
Best Puppy Food for Labs
By the end of the eighth week, your Lab puppy is now ready to feed on solid foods. If you’re getting your puppy from a breeder, it is vital to consult on what foods your pup has been eating. This information will provide a sense of continuity for your puppy as they adjust to their new environment, especially without their littermates. Below is a list of the recommended foods.
As the name suggests, dry kibble is dried dog food that comes in pellet form. Most people prefer to feed their furry companions on dry kibble because it is affordable, long-lasting, and convenient to store. Let’s not forget the heavily-packed nutrients within that provide your pup with crucial ingredients for growth.
Kibble is available in sacks of various weights ranging from 3kg to 15kg. You can expect to spend anything between $30 and $100 depending on the quantity and brand you purchase. But what is the best puppy food for Labs? You should feed your pup on protein-rich foods like fish, duck, chicken, turkey, and beef. A good kibble brand should also contain healthy carbohydrates and grains.
When shopping for dry kibble, don’t compromise quality for quantity. You should ensure that the package is marked “puppy food.” A Lab puppy requires different nutrient ratios from a mature dog. Failure to provide the necessary nutrients will result in musculoskeletal deformities in your puppy. Read through the ingredients list carefully and ensure to avoid brands that list unnecessary additives, as they can trigger digestive problems.
Below is a list of the recommended brands:
- Purina Pro Plan Focus: This is a high-quality chicken and rice formula suitable for puppies. It also has DHA found in omega-rich fish oil to help nourish your puppy’s brain and enhance vision development. This formula also contains calcium, phosphorous, and plenty more minerals necessary for the growth of strong teeth and bones. To be exact, it contains 28% protein, 18% fat, 3% fiber, 12% moisture, among other minerals.
- Royal Canin: Unlike the conventional bone-shaped pellets that you might be used to, Royal Canin kibble comes in donut shapes. In addition to a complex of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, Royal Canin contains 31% protein, 12% fat, 3.7% fiber, 10% moisture, among other vital minerals.
- Merrick: This kibble utilizes chicken as its primary protein to help your pup build up healthy muscle tissue. It also contains a healthy blend of grains like quinoa to support optimal digestion. This classic puppy formula also contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to promote healthy fur coats and joints. In particular, Merrick includes 31% protein, 12% fat, 3.7% fiber, 10% moisture, among many more minerals and vitamins.
From the examples listed, you can see that protein and healthy fats rank high in proportion compared to other ingredients. These key components are fundamental to your pup’s healthy growth. If you prefer alternative kibble brands, ensure that they don’t contain “heavy” carbohydrates, such as potato, wheat, soy, and corn. These grains and starch are usually detrimental to a puppy’s digestive tract and can result in bloat.
Wet foods are packed in individual containers to be consumed in one serving. Similar to dry kibble, wet food contains all necessary minerals and nutrients for your puppy’s growth. That said, don’t combine it with dry foods as this will throw off the nutritional balance, and you’ll end up overfeeding your puppy. You can instead alternate between wet and dry food to keep things more interesting for your furry friend.
The most significant advantage of wet food is that it is flavorful. Your puppy is sure to enjoy mealtime. Wet food is also great for helping puppies transition from the weaning stage to venture into dry foods. It also contains fewer calories per serving, making it an excellent choice to help your puppy maintain a healthy weight.
Although wet food is much tastier than kibble, it is quite expensive in comparison. It is also harder to store. Wet food should be stored away from direct sunlight to prevent spoiling. Besides, once you unseal the package, your puppy will have to consume the contents in a matter of hours. Failure to do so means that the food goes to waste.
Below is a list of some of the recommended wet food brands you can try:
- Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Plate Chicken: If you’re looking for a grain-free diet, this brand is perfect. It contains chicken, chicken broth, sweet potatoes, duck, and carrots as the first five ingredients, meaning that it is perfectly healthy for your four-legged friend.
- Nutro Puppy Grain-Free Tender Chicken and Sweet Potato: Another top contender in the grain-free category, this formula contains chicken, chicken broth, pork broth, chicken liver, and sweet potatoes.
- AvoDerm Natural Wet Puppy Food: If you’re open to feeding your Lab puppy on an all-inclusive diet, this brand is what you need. Its contents entail chicken, chicken liver, chicken broth, salmon, and rice.
Raw food, often referred to as Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF), is usually a sensitive subject among dog lovers. This sensitivity is because the diet entails raw meat, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Raw feeding is the most challenging option since it requires pre-planning and accuracy to create a well-proportioned and healthy diet for your puppy. Tip-top hygiene is also mandatory to prevent the spreading of bacteria from raw meat.
Firm believers of BARF diets boast of its high nutrient levels and minimal processing. That said, raw food lowers your dog’s chance of getting bloated. It also promotes healthier teeth and gums since your dog has to bite and chew into raw meat muscles and hard grains.
As a fur parent, it is vital to note that nutritional needs will vary with each Labrador. As for all the fuss regarding grain-free diets, don’t just “wing” it. Instead, consult your vet to help you come up with the perfect diet plan and schedule. Some dogs are highly allergic to grain-inclusive diets, while others are not. Like life dictates, everything should be done in moderation.