When you own a Labrador Retriever, one constant concern has always been feeding requirements. Labrador feeding is not only about the best dog foods, but it is also about how much and how frequently you feed your dog.
The Labrador Retriever is one of the best family dogs in the world. However, owning this breed comes with responsibility and commitment. This entails following the best diet and coming up with an effective feeding scheme.
Aside from common dry food and wet food, Labrador can also be enrolled in different diets. In this guide, we will learn more about their eating habits, feeding instructions, and foods that will give your Lab a long and healthy life.
Labrador Feeding Chart by Age: How Much to Feed Your Labrador?
A Labrador Retriever can be fed a minimum of one to a maximum of six cups of dog food. Moreover, age, level of activity, and food type are important factors in estimating how much to feed your Lab.
Feeding your Labrador Retriever can be tricky because there are a lot of factors to consider.
When it comes to how much food you should give, note that it will vary depending on their age, kibble brand, and type of food.
Therefore, it is important to carefully follow the feeding guide indicated in commercial dog food brands. Better yet, consult your vet or pet nutritionist if you want to learn more about the specifics.
As a Labrador Retriever owner, you must know that the requirements are different for each stage. Hence, both puppy and adult dogs must be trained to eat on the right schedule with the correct amount.
Labrador Puppy Feeding Chart (2 to 12 months)
Much like any other breed, Labrador Retriever puppies will start weaning as early as two weeks. This means that it may be ready to eat wet food or puppy kibble.
Typically, the puppy’s growth accelerates at this point, so this is the best time to introduce them to new food.
Take note, however, that you may need to try out different puppy food to find the best puppy food for your pooch.
Fortunately, most commercial puppy foods are formulated similarly. Hence, the amount puppies eat will be pretty similar.
Refer to this Labrador puppy feeding chart to know how much to feed your puppy on a daily basis:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|2 – 3 months||1 – 1.25||200 – 275||20 – 25%||9%|
|4 – 6 months||1 .5 – 2||325 – 470||20 – 25%||9%|
|7 – 9 months||1.75 – 3||700 – 1200||20 – 25%||9%|
|10 – 12 months||3 – 3 .5||700 – 1200||20 – 25%||9%|
This Lab puppy feeding chart is a great start when looking at the ideal food amount to give to your pooch. You may adjust the portion depending on their food intake or based on the puppy food’s label.
Just keep in mind that Lab puppies require all the nutrients to support their activities and growing bodies. As they wean, milk will not be sufficient to meet their current diet requirement.
Hence, it is time to search and provide them with quality puppy chow alongside their puppy supplements.
Adult Labrador Feeding Chart (1 to 6 years)
When feeding an adult dog, it is important to acquire commercial dog foods specifically made for large breeds. On the other hand, some dog owners opt for raw feeding or homemade meals, which are equally healthy.
However, it is always best to have a word with your pet nutritionist before beginning any specific diet plan for your Labrador.
Refer to the Labrador feeding chart below to know how much quality food to give to your dog:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|1 – 7 years||3.62 – 6||750 – 1500||18 – 25%||5.5%|
Generally, an adult Labrador can consume around 3 to 6 cups of dog food a day. However, different factors such as age, weight, gender, and activities may increase or decrease their consumption.
Moreover, when switching dog foods, it is better to observe any signs of indigestion. This will most likely happen while transitioning from puppy food to adult dog food.
Hence, you should start with small amounts and slowly incorporate the adult food over time. You’ll learn more about transitioning diet in a later section.
Senior Labrador Feeding Chart (7 years and above)
Much like their diet during the adult period, it’s still recommended to feed kibble or wet food to senior Labradors.
Naturally, senior Labs have fewer activities and may require higher protein to support their heart and joints and replace muscle mass as they age.
Refer to the senior Labrador feeding guide below for the proper food portioning for your dog:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|7 years and above||3.62 – 6||750 – 1500||18 – 25%||>5%|
Usually, most adult food formulation is also compatible with senior dogs. That said, you can continue feeding them with their adult food.
However, there are also dedicated senior dog foods. You can also try those on your dog upon consulting with a veterinarian.
One thing to remember when feeding senior Labradors is to keep an eye on their appetite and activities. As much as possible, provide balanced food and avoid giving them too much food.
Labrador Feeding Frequency: How Often Should You Feed Your Labrador Retriever?
The feeding frequency for Labrador Retrievers is highly dependent on their age. For puppies, three to four times a day is recommended. On the other hand, adult and senior Labradors can eat twice daily.
Labrador is a food-motivated breed. Thus, there’s a low chance for this pooch to turn down any food. Given their nature, it’s hard to figure out whether they’re food-obsessed or just really hungry.
Since Labrador Retrievers are not capable of self-regulating their eating habit, owner intervention is required. To stop them from overeating, you must control the time and amount through an effective feeding schedule.
Here’s a table with information on feeding frequency for your Labs based on their age:
|2 – 4 months||Four times a day, if not free fed|
|5 – 12 months||Three times a day|
|1 – 6 years||Two times a day|
|7 years and above||Once or twice a day|
As a rule of thumb, you can feed a Lab puppy four times a day if it is not free-fed. As they age, gradually establish a fixed eating schedule for your dog.
In general, it is recommended to feed your Lab at specific times a day once they reach four months old. Doing this will get your Labrador accustomed to an eating schedule.
Once your pup reaches one year old, reduce its feeding from thrice a day to twice a day. This will keep its energy level stable throughout the day.
Also, keep in mind that dogs thrive on routine. That said, you may find it challenging to change your dog’s feeding frequency during the early days of transitioning.
Optimal Feeding Times for Labrador Retrievers
Since we’ve previously tackled the frequency, this section will focus more on the specific time of the day to feed your Labrador Retriever.
As a responsible owner, keep in mind that your Labrador shouldn’t go more than 12 hours without food. Otherwise, they might suffer from stomach problems or have varying energy levels throughout the day.
Refer to this table for an easy guide on optimal feeding times for a Labrador Retriever:
|Age||Optimal Feeding Times|
|2 – 4 months||7:00 am, 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, and 7:00 pm if not free fed|
|5 – 12 months||7:00 am, 1:00 pm, 7:00 pm|
|1 – 6 years||7:00 am, 7:00 pm|
|7 years and above||7:00 am or 7:00 pm if fed once a day;|
7:00 am and 7:00 pm if fed twice a day.
Naturally, Labrador puppies would require more feeding times. Hence, you should only set a few hours interval between meals.
As for adult Labs, optimal feeding times would be one in the morning, afternoon, and night. Almost identical to human eating hours.
Along with implementing a time frame for mealtime, owners must be open to modifying combinations of puppy food throughout the first two years of the pup. Abrupt growth spurts may bring changes in their eating habits.
Once your dog reaches one year old, its dog food is enough to sustain its energy for longer. This means you can reduce your dog’s eating frequency from three times a day to twice a day.
Always ensure to follow the correct feeding schedule when feeding kibble or other types of dog food to ensure nutritional requirements are met.
Best Dog Foods for Labrador Retrievers
A Labrador Retriever is known as a service dog. They help in hunting, farming, and even therapy. As such, they require an energy-loaded diet and dog foods that are rich in protein and carbohydrates to keep up with their activities.
Since they belong to the large breed classification, they are also prone to common health risks such as arthritis and other joint diseases.
These nutrients are essential to obtain, whether from a raw food diet, home-prepared meals, or commercial dog food.
Here are some of the best dog foods we recommend for your Labrador Retriever:
- Wet Food: Like kibble, commercially available wet dog food is common and already a complete and balanced diet for your Labrador puppy or adult dog. Its smooth texture is well-loved by purebreds and mixed breeds alike. Eating wet food that contains Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), glucosamine, and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) helps support the condition of their joints and heart.
- Dry Food: When on the hunt for the most suitable dry dog food, always look for grain-free and made from whole food sources so it can easily be digested. Also, check the food labels and ensure that it has a perfect balance of carbohydrates and fats. Highly fortified and breed-specific kibble is also recommended.
- Homemade Food: Considering how much your adult dog or Lab puppy eats, a healthy diet made from scratch can be a great alternative to avoid obesity. In order to promote growth and proper nourishment, any home-prepared diet must contain 50% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and 20% fruit or vegetables. Just mix everything together with a little water to incorporate them better.
- Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) Diet: Most veterinarians would recommend feeding your puppy BARF to avoid any skin allergies in the future. Furthermore, this diet opts for low sodium content. Owners should include fish and flaxseed oil, carrots, eggs, liver, and beans into the raw puppy food diet.
To properly evaluate whether your pooch is getting enough nutrients from its diet, check on the guidelines provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Since Labrador Retrievers are energetic and active dogs, it is best to give them a moderate to high-fat diet. As long as they are able to exercise daily, they can easily work it off and avoid being overweight.
However, if they are more on the lax side, adjust their food intake from low to moderate calories. It will not make sense to give them too many carbs if they’re not able to burn that through physical activities.
If they cannot burn off the calories, enroll them in a low-fat or low-protein diet instead. Excessive carbs can increase their blood sugar and may put your dogs at risk for diabetes.
If you’re interested in giving healthy homemade food to your Labrador, watch this video:
Choosing the best dog food can be tricky at first. It may take extra time and effort, but the investment will definitely pay off.
Once you learn the appropriate feeding pattern, then having a healthy dog with strong joints and a better digestive and immune system is easily attainable.
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Labrador Retriever
As an owner, it’s normal to dedicate our time and resources to our dogs too. That includes sharing our belongings, space, and most especially, our food.
However, the American Kennel Club reminds owners to be aware of what human food is safe for dogs.
In this section, you will learn which foods are okay for consumption and which food can harm our Labrador Retrievers.
First off, here’s a list of harmful foods that may even manifest fatal effects on our pooch:
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia, and basically most kinds of nuts may cause a rise in body temperature that can trigger vomiting, lethargy, and inability to walk. Physically, it can block their esophagus if not chewed properly. Moreover, some may also contain salt that can be fatal to their heart.
- Chocolate: Chocolate in any other form should not be given to dogs. Chocolate has toxic substances called methylxanthines that put a stop to their metabolic process. It can still be toxic even in the smallest amount as it may cause diarrhea or vomiting.
- Garlic and Allium Plants: Alliums such as garlic, chives, leeks, and onions are not good for dog consumption. These contain poisonous substances that can elevate a dog’s heart rate and may cause anemia.
- Ice Cream: Despite being a well-loved treat, ice cream shouldn’t also be part of your dog’s diet. Although regularly seen across social media, feeding your pooch ice cream is not recommended. It contains loads of sugar, and some dogs may be lactose intolerant as well. As an alternative, owners can always freeze berries and apples as a regular icy treat.
On the contrary, here are some of the most friendly human foods for all dogs, including Labrador Retrievers:
- Milk: Milk is a great supplement of other nutrients for dogs. Just be mindful that your dog is not lactose intolerant. It should only be given in small quantities as a treat.
- Popcorn: On a movie night, dogs can also munch on popcorn. However, ensure that it is unsalted, unflavored, and air-popped. In moderation, it is a good source of thiamine and riboflavin for eyesight. Remove any unpopped kernels to avoid choking.
- Seafood: In addition, seafood such as salmon and shrimp contain good fats and are high in antioxidants. Seafood boosts their immune system and brain health. Be sure to thoroughly cook salmon, fish, and shrimp all the way through to avoid parasites.
- Eggs: Eggs are also safe for dogs so long as they are also cooked well. It provides a great amount of protein and protects their stomach’s health.
- Cheese: Cheese can also be given to dogs in moderate quantities. Go for low-fat cheese as a treat. Mozzarella and cottage cheese are some that can be fully enjoyed by dogs without the fat guilt.
Before feeding your Labrador, make it a habit to learn if the food won’t have negative effects on their body. A small amount of prohibited food is not worth an emergency trip to a vet.
How to Transition Your Labrador to a New Food
Aside from the concern of how much to feed a pup regularly, Labrador owners should also know when is the proper time to transition their Lab puppy to a new diet.
Throughout their life stages, a dog will not just undergo one food switch. Age, health, and other factors can fuel a change in their diet.
As stated earlier, an abrupt change in their food will only cause an upset stomach and indigestion. There are a couple of reasons to switch food.
What’s important is to safely introduce a new diet while slowly shifting away from the current one.
Add the new food into each meal gradually and reduce the portion of their current food. Do this over a week to make sure that your Labrador gets used to its new diet and won’t develop any sensitivity.
This method can also be followed when changing from dry kibble to raw feeding and vice versa.
Some reasons for change can be prompted by age. Different life stages will require different nutritional requirements for your dog.
Other reasons may be caused by allergies, brand availability, and weight management.
Switching food or your Lab’s diet is not an easy process. It is still best to consult your trusted vet about changing their overall food regimen.
Feeding an Overweight Labrador Retriever
It is safe to assume that new dog owners may not have a solid idea about the right food management.
They just enjoy feeding their pooch with tons of food and love seeing them get fat. However, that is not considered proper care for them.
Experienced dog breeders know precisely what an overweight dog looks like and how to feed them properly.
Labradors are known for their love of food. They are incapable of switching off their hunger signals even after eating. As a result, Labs have a higher number of overweight dogs in the United States.
Like with other dogs, overfeeding a dog can lead to obesity. Thankfully, there are ways to address this and protect the health of our pooch in the long run.
An eye-opening first step is to have a handy Labrador food guide. Having this will help you gauge the correct amount of food your dog needs depending on its age and other factors as well.
It is also advisable to record and keep track of your dog’s eating habits. Log what they eat and how much they eat during each meal. Calculating their calorie intake is also helpful for medical purposes and when switching food.
Furthermore, avoid feeding overweight dogs table scraps. Many owners are guilty of this habit. It will not only contribute to your dog’s overeating but is also harmful, given that human foods contain a lot of salt and oil.
Much like table scraps, it is also best to limit dog treats. Entice dogs with treats only on special occasions and during training.
These are just some of the simple things you can do to control an overweight pooch. When it comes to other methods, it is always advisable to speak with your vet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is My Labrador Retriever Not Eating?
Dogs lose their appetite due to some reasons. It may be because they’re already bored with their current diet, aging, or a sign of underlying health issues.
This can be troublesome to most owners, so it’s best to consult a vet immediately.
Do Labrador Retrievers Eat a lot?
Yes, Labrador Retrievers are a food-motivated breed. Research also says that they have a genetic malfunction that doesn’t turn off their hungry sense. This is why owners need to control their food intake.
Can Labrador Retrievers Eat Bones?
Bones are a good source of minerals, so they can be good for Labrador Retrievers. However, it may come with serious physical trade-offs.
Give only large, raw bones and supervise them from time to time. Dispose of the bone after 3 to 4 days.
Can Labrador Retrievers Be Vegetarians?
Yes, Labrador Retrievers can thrive with a proper vegetable diet in place. In fact, soy and other whole grains are perfect substitutes for meat for protein.
However, a vegetarian diet is something that needs professional input from vets.
Labs are the most popular dog breed in the United States. Thus, there are a lot of available materials on how to take care of and feed this easy-going pooch properly.
For starters, it is highly recommended to have a Labrador feeding schedule to guide you with the amount and frequency of feeding.
Although Labrador food is accessible for purchase anywhere, you can also introduce them in a raw diet or homemade meals.
Regardless of what type of food you choose to give, you need to ensure to feed your dog a complete diet that supports their growth and overall health.
As an owner, it is a big responsibility to provide them with only the best, so these high-spirited companions can have a happy and longer life.
Will you follow this Labrador food guide? What are your feeding methods with your pooch? Share and comment your thoughts below!