Best Dog Food for Labs


Sonal Panse

Last updated Feb. 8, 2018

What This Article Covers

If there ever was a walking, barking stomach, it would be a Labrador. As Lab pet parents no doubt know, their energetic pup can eat and then some. You have to be careful when feeding Labradors, as feeding them too much can cause obesity. On the other hand, you can't feed them too little if you expect that delightful personality to be on the go all day. Finding the right balance with the best dog food for Labs is crucial, along with a sufficient amount of exercise to help them digest their meals.

The ingredients in this high-protein, dry dog food include salmon, chicken and fish meal, fruits, and vegetables. There are no chicken by-products and no grains. Several customers report excellent results from feeding this food to their dogs. Their dogs are fitter and healthier with shinier coats.

Personality Traits And Needs

The Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in the world, and for a very good reason. They have a sunny temperament that is hard to resist. Labs are intelligent and easy to train, and they are generally good with people and other animals-- just what you want to cheer things up at home.

Labradors come in three main coat colors: yellow, chocolate, and black. Yellow and black Labradors are more common than chocolate Labradors. Their thick coats are sleek and water resistant,  a necessary trait for dogs that were bred for hunting and retrieving fowl from ponds, lakes, and marshy areas. The dogs are well-built and muscular and are known to have a good stamina. The breed was meant to have a high activity level and, although many pet parents can't or won't take their dog hunting, they still have to contend with the excessive energy.

While Labradors are a generally healthy breed, they can suffer from genetic diseases like hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. Obesity can exacerbate these joint problems, and so can malnutrition. This is another reason why pet parents need to watch what they feed their Labrador.

Other Health Issues

In addition to their predisposition to osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia, Labradors can suffer from skin allergies, heart disease, and eye-related issues like retinal dysplasia, retinal atrophy, and cataracts. To some extent, feeding your Lab a nutritious diet can check and counter these health problems. The best dog food for Labs should contain ingredients that help foster good health.


The Best Dog Food To Counter Health Issues

For a completely nutritious diet, the best dog food for Labs must contain a good deal of glucosamine, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Glucosamine is a substance that occurs in the synovial joint fluid and is crucial for maintaining bone, muscle, tendon, heart, and eye health. Problems arise when the levels of glucosamine fall, and then, to repair the body, it becomes necessary to take supplements and eat food containing glucosamine.

Raw spinach, parsley, and other leafy greens contain a lot of glutamine, as do shells of crustaceans. Check if the commercial dog food you buy contains these. Otherwise, to feed this combination to your Lab, crush the shells into powder, chop the leafy greens, and add both to a meaty gristle stew that your pet loves. It will go down fast. Meat gristle is also a good source of glutamine.

Dog food for Labs should include liver and fish, and whole grains; if your dog has allergies, you may want to go grain-free. Add sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil to your pet's diet to promote optimum skin and fur health. Vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, pumpkin, peas, and beans, and fruits like bananas and apples are excellent for your Lab. 

 Labrador Puppy Food Requirements

Growing Labrador puppies require a lot more nutrients than adult dogs, and the food requirements for puppies include glucosamine to build strong bones, proteins for muscle and ligament building, fats for energy, and vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system. Your puppy will also need calcium in a limited amount. Excess calcium can cause bone-related problems like hip dysplasia and bone deformities. Puppy food needs to be low in calories to prevent obesity; being overweight can stress your puppy's developing bones.


What To Avoid

When buying commercial dog food for Labs, read the ingredient list with care. You don't want a dog food that contains artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. Be sure to look out for harmful, cancer-causing chemicals like ethoxyquin, tertiary butylhydroquinine and butylated hydrixytoluene. You also want to avoid food containing animal byproducts; that is, food made from discarded and not easily digestible body parts like feet, heads, horns, beaks, and so on.

How To Feed Your Labrador

You can feed commercial dog food and homemade food to your Labrador. People buy commercial dog food as-- aside from being specially formulated for your Lab's needs-- it saves the time and effort of cooking. It is also a good idea to cook from time to time and to see that your Lab gets plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Establish a daily routine for feeding your Lab, and soon you won't need a clock to tell you it's time to eat. Your Lab will already be pawing at you in a frenzy to get up and hurry.

If you asked your Labrador, they would probably tell you that it's fine to feed them as often as possible. Just put the food before them and don't worry about it any further. They will demolish it in no time. You could end up with an obese pet if you did that, so rely on your judgment and measured portions while keeping feeding times to three to five times a day.

Tasty Foods for Your Lab

This dog food is formulated for Labs that are at least 15 months of age and older and is meant to strengthen joints and promote a healthy skin and coat. The food is in dry kibble form, and its ingredients include chicken, rice, barley, oatmeal, beet, marigold extract, and rosemary extract.

Meant for puppies between 8 weeks old and 15 months old, this dry kibble is good for your puppy's developing bones and teeth. The food contains vitamins that can boost your dog's immune system, keep their joints in good shape, and make their coat gleam.

A tasty product from Royal Canin that offers balanced nutrition to your pet and promotes all round good health.

The 3D DENTADEFENSE System in this food is touted to clear up tartar build-up in your pet's teeth, and the high-protein content is good for bone development and for keeping the coat in peak condition. Food ingredients include whole-grain sorghum, whole-grain barley, beet pulp, and chicken and fish meal.

If your Lab is suffering from obesity, you might want to try this low-calorie diet. Ingredients include chicken, peas, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, apples, flaxseed, and whole grains. There are no meat by-products, and also no artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

This is a great choice for your active Labrador as it is a high-protein diet that can strengthen your pet's muscles. The main ingredient is smoked salmon and others include potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, and canola oil. There are no grains and artificial colors and preservatives.

The listed ingredients include lamb, chicken meal, fish meal, brown rice, barley, and tomato pomace. Many pet parents report that this is a tasty combination that their picky pets love and can easily digest. It also is good for the dog's overall health.

The Holistic Select food is formulated in particular for dogs with sensitive stomachs and digestive issues. The ingredients include fish meal, brown and white rice, oatmeal, beet, carrots, eggs, cranberries, raspberries, kelp, and yucca extract. Several pet parents have reported a great improvement in their pet's health after feeding them this food.

From the reports of pet parents who have used the product, this food appears to be a safe choice for pets that suffer from allergies. It is made from soybean meal, barley, brewer's rice, carrots, and canola oil.

Nutrish seems to work wonders for dogs with skin and digestive issues. The ingredients include beef, chicken meal, soybean meal, peas, carrots, brown rice, whole-grain corn, and olive oil. There are no fillers and no artificial preservatives.

Whether you decide to feed your Labrador natural and homemade food or commercial dog food, make sure that the food contains all the vital nutrients and vitamins that your pet requires to lead a healthy and happy life. Always scrutinize the ingredient list before buying any dog food, and pick food products that are safe and of high quality.

 If a particular dog food doesn't agree with your Labrador, you can always switch to one that does. Aside from the food choices given above, there are plenty more to satisfy the pickiest canine palate. Stop by our Brand Review page for an in-depth look at different options.