What’s the Best Food for a Labrador?
Labradors are the most popular breed of dog in America and yellow, chocolate and black labs make excellent pets. Labradors are renowned for their big appetites and ability to eat practically anything! However, this doesn’t mean it’s OK to just feed a Lab the cheapest dog food available. More important than price is the need to make sure that a good dog food meets a Labrador’s nutritional requirements for peak health, which will vary according to their life stage. Labrador puppies and young one year old labs that are still growing will need more protein and energy than senior labs who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
It is not necessary to purchase a breed-specific dog food for Labrador Retrievers, as a well balanced wet or dry food recipe aimed at large dogs should provide an adequate mix of nutrients. Having said that, some dog owners feel overwhelmed by the choice of dog food on sale and may find it easier to choose a brand that is specially formulated and recommended for Labradors.
Labradors, as do other dog breeds, need a lot of meat-based protein in their diet, which is best if it comes from whole real meat ingredients, either in dried kibble or a wet stew. Although Labs are an active large breed and may need more energy from their diets than less active or smaller breeds, it is crucial not to overfeed them, particularly older labs who may not be able to exercise much due to arthritis or mobility issues. Labradors do tend to enjoy eating and will quite happily quickly devour all the food put in front of them! So portion control is important to monitor how much a Lab eats and to avoid the health issues associated with being overweight or obese. A Labrador puppy should be trained to eat regular meals and free feeding should be discouraged.
Because Labs have a tendency to wolf their food, the process of eating too quickly can result in gastric tortion or bloat, where the stomach becomes swollen or twisted and the blood supply to vital organs is reduced, potentially causing breathing problems and in some cases fatal consequences. Feeding a Labrador from a raised dish may help to slow down its eating and avoid this condition.
Like any breed of dog, it is possible for Labradors to display symptoms of food sensitivities or allergies, in which case a top quality food free from trigger ingredients, such as a grain free dry dog food, or a brand that doesn’t contain wheat, corn, gluten or soy, may be the best choice to avoid the symptoms of skin allergies or digestive issues such as excess gas.
Ultimately the best dog food for a Labrador depends on a dog’s preferences, health and lifestyle.