Large-breed dog breeds such as Boxers, Great Danes, and Labradors have specific nutritional requirements. Their diet must contain the right amount of calories, fat, protein, and fiber to support their growth, development, and activity level.
What is a Labrador?
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. They are medium to large dogs with a short, thick coat that can be black, brown, or yellow. Labradors are known for being friendly, energetic, and good at retrieving things.
They were originally bred in Newfoundland, Canada to help fishermen with their catch. Nowadays, they are popular pets and working dogs.
They are several mix breeds of Labrador as well, such as the Chocolate Labrador, which is a mix of a Labrador and a Cocker Spaniel.
Below is an image of labrador retriever;
Best Dog food for Labradors
- 1. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
- 2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Dog Food
- 3. Wellness Complete Health Senior Dog Food
- 4. Purina Pro Plan Specialized Large Breed Canned Food
- 5. Nom Nom Turkey Fare
- 6. Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dog Food
- 7. Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dog Food
Reviews of the Best Dog Food for Labradors:
Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
Our overall best pick for the best dog food for Labradors is the Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food. This food is specifically designed for large breeds like Labradors and contains a high level of protein to support their growth and development.
Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food Chicken, Lamb and Salmon Recipe is a protein-rich formula that features chicken as the first ingredient. This recipe contains a blend of 15 superfoods including coconut, chia seeds, kale, blueberries and more. The high-quality ingredients are sourced from trusted farmers and rigorously tested for quality and food safety. No artificial preservatives or colors added.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula is specially designed for puppies. It contains DHA and ARA to support healthy brain and eye development, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat, and calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins for strong bones and teeth.
The kibble is also specially sized for smaller jaws, which helps remove tartar. Plus, the formula includes antioxidants, vitamins, chelated minerals, and high-quality protein to help your puppy grow up healthy and strong.
Wellness Complete Health
Wellness Complete Health’s dry cat food is specially formulated to provide whole-body nutritional support. Developed without any GMOs, meat by-products, fillers or artificial preservatives, this premium cat food is crafted using carefully chosen ingredients that include premium proteins and wholesome grains.
Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, taurine and beta carotene, Wellness Complete Health’s dry cat food is made in the USA using only the finest globally sourced ingredients.
Purina Pro Plan Specialized Adult
Purina Pro Plan Chicken and Rice Adult Dog Food is a complete and balanced diet that supports your adult dog’s health. It contains real chicken as the first ingredient to provide your large breed dog with high-quality protein for strong muscles.
The rice in this recipe provides carbohydrates for energy, along with essential vitamins and minerals to support his overall health. This formula is also rich in antioxidants for healthy immune system support so he can enjoy all the fun of being an active dog.
Buying Guide for the Best Dog Food for Labradors
What are their nutritional requirements?
Protein: Being large-breed dogs, labradors need a diet that is high in protein to help them grow and develop properly. Look for a food that has at least 18% protein. AAFCO recommends that you feed a labradors dog food with at least 18% protein for adult dogs and 22.5% for puppies.
Fat: Fat is an important source of energy for dogs, and it also helps keep their coat healthy. Good fat content for a Labrador is 8-10%. AAFCO recommends that you feed a Labradors dog food with at least 5% fat for adult dogs and 8% for puppies.
Fiber: Fiber is important for all dogs, but it is especially important for large-breed dogs like Labradors. This is because they are more prone to developing bloat, which is a life-threatening condition. Feed your Labrador a dog food that has at least 3% fiber.
Calories: Labradors are active dogs, so they need a lot of calories to maintain their energy levels. Look for food that has at least 350 calories per cup.
Essential mineral and vitamins labs need:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These are essential for a healthy coat and skin.
- Calcium: This is important for strong bones and teeth.
- Vitamin E: This is an antioxidant that helps boost the immune system.
- Phosphorus: This is important for kidney health.
Large-breed puppies, including labs, grow quickly and need a diet that supports their rapid growth. Look for a food that has at least 27.5% protein and 8% fat. Puppies also need more calories than adult dogs, so look for food that has at least 350 calories per cup.
Key ingredient ratios to note:
Calcium and phosphorus are two essential minerals that dogs need for strong bones and teeth. It is important to maintain a ratio of 1:1 as recommended by AAFCO and NRC. This ratio can go as high as 2:1, but no higher.
Sodium and potassium are two electrolytes that are important for dogs to maintain a healthy balance of fluids in their body. The ideal ratio is 1:1 as recommended by AAFCO.
Fat to protein ratio:
This ratio shows you the quality of protein and the amount of fat in the food. A good ratio is around 30 to 60% as recommended by AAFCO. This means that for every 100 grams of protein, there are 30 to 60 grams of fat. Read more about fat to protein ratio here.
Now that we know what to look for in food for our Labrador, let’s take a look at some of the best dog foods on the market.
Common Health Issues Labradors have:
4. Congenital Heart Disease
5. Diabetes Mellitus
6. Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat)
7. Hip Dysplasia
Allergies are one of the most common health problems in Labradors. Allergies can be caused by many different things including food, environmental factors or even their own body’s reaction to something. The most common symptom of allergies is itching, but they can also cause rashes, sneezing, watering eyes and even vomiting and diarrhea. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet to be diagnosed and treated.
Arthritis is a common condition that affects many older dogs, including Labradors. Arthritis is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage in the joints, which leads to pain and inflammation. Symptoms of arthritis include stiff joints, limping and decreased activity level. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Labradors. Cancer can affect any part of the body, but the most common types in Labradors are lymphoma and osteosarcoma. Symptoms of cancer include weight loss, lethargy, bumps or lumps on the body, and difficulty eating or drinking. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Congenital Heart Disease:
Congenital heart disease is a common health problem in Labradors. It is a congenital defect, which means it is present at birth. The most common type of congenital heart disease in Labradors is pulmonic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the pulmonary valve. Symptoms of congenital heart disease include shortness of breath, exercise intolerance and fainting. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that affects the way the body processes sugar. Sugar is an important source of energy for the body, but if there is too much sugar in the blood, it can lead to serious health problems. Symptoms of diabetes mellitus include increased thirst, urination and appetite. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat):
Bloat is a serious condition that can affect any dog, but it is especially common in large breeds like Labradors. Bloat occurs when the stomach twists on itself and fills with gas. This can cut off the blood supply to the stomach and lead to shock. Symptoms of bloat include pacing, restlessness, drooling and retching. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet immediately for treatment.
Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects the hip joints. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the hip joint does not fit together correctly, which leads to pain and lameness. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, so it is important to have your Labrador’s hips checked by the vet before breeding. Symptoms of hip dysplasia include stiffness, lameness and pain. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism, so when it isn’t working properly, it can lead to a variety of problems. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, lethargy, hair loss and reproductive problems. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Intervertebral Disc Disease:
Intervertebral disc disease is a condition that affects the discs between the vertebrae in the spine. In dogs with intervertebral disc disease, the discs degenerate and can rupture, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Symptoms of intervertebral disc disease include pain, weakness, paralysis and incontinence. If your Labrador is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Labradors are prone to a variety of health problems, some of which are listed above. However, with proper care and treatment, many of these conditions can be managed and your Labrador can enjoy a long and healthy life.
How to care for Labs:
Labradors are active dogs, so they need plenty of exercise. A daily walk or run is a good way to keep your Labrador healthy and fit.
It’s also important to feed your Labrador a healthy diet. Labradors need a balanced diet that includes all the essential nutrients. Choose a high-quality dog food that is formulated for active dogs.
Labradors also need plenty of mental stimulation. They are intelligent dogs and can get bored easily. Make sure to provide your Labrador with plenty of toys and puzzles to keep them occupied.
Make sure to take your Labrador to the vet for regular checkups and vaccinations.
Catch them early, many health problems can be managed successfully.
Energy requirements for labradors:
Labradors are active dogs, so they need a lot of energy. A good rule of thumb is to feed your Labrador about 30 calories per pound of body weight per day. For example, a 50-pound Labrador would need about 1,500 calories per day.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org