what is the best dog food for a labrador retriever

When it comes to feeding the Labrador, opinions differ. Some clearly favor wet food, others are fans of dry food chunks. In addition, the selection in the pet shops is simply overwhelming. So what is the best dog food for a Labrador Retriever?

Many puppies prefer to eat what they have already received from the breeder. You can keep feeding this for a while and later switch to adult food (possibly the same brand). Otherwise you have to try out what is good for the Labrador Retriever and what it likes. What you ultimately decide on, of course, also depends on your budget.

If you want, you can combine both types of feeding (dry and wet) in order to combine the advantages of both variants. The dog will be happy if it has a little variety in his bowl. However, there is still the alternative of B.A.R.F.ing your four-legged friend.

What is the Best Dog Food for a Labrador Retriever?

This page contains affiliate links, and as a Chewy affiliate and an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases which means I receive a small commission when you make a purchase, at zero cost to you.

Both feeding options have their advantages and disadvantages. The most important are summarized here:

Dry Food

Advantages of Dry Food

  • Is often the cheaper food variant
  • It has a long shelf life and can be stored well in advance
  • Low odor
  • Dry food contains more energy than a comparable amount of wet food
  • The dog needs smaller portions in order to be satisfied
  • Scattered remains around the feeding place can be quickly picked up
  • Hard chunks of food support the dog’s teeth cleaning (but only if the dog does not swallow them whole)
  • Easily portionable (suitable for on the go / when traveling)
  • Can be used as a reward for training
  • Environmentally friendly because less packaging material is used than for cans, bowls or food bags

Disadvantages of Dry Food

  • Little taste of its own, which is why flavor enhancers are often used
  • The need for fluids is increased after eating. This is disadvantageous for dogs who are lazy to drink.
  • Hard chunks are not suitable for all dogs, e.g. seniors
  • Often contains preservatives
  • The chunks of food swell up in the stomach. The dog only realizes later that it feels full, which is why it may eat more than necessary. So a minus point for the voracious Labrador.
  • Some varieties are high in grains and other nutrient-poor fillers
  • Dog may drop a lot of feces due to non-usable ingredients
  • Inaccurate labeling of various ingredients possible

Which dry food is recommended for the Labrador?

We are repeatedly asked which dry food is recommended. The dogs often struggle with diarrhea, dull fur and scratching.

It is important that your dog likes the food and that it receives all the necessary nutrients. Many types of food offer sufficient supplies and keep the dog healthy. It is therefore almost impossible to list all the very good types of feed.

As an example, we can recommend the Human Grade Dry Dog Food by The Honest Kitchen. – As I said, it’s just one good food among many. The amount of food must be adapted to the dog’s turnover and activity level.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Beef Whole Food Clusters Dry Dog Food, 20-lb bag

Why do we recommend this food?

  • High meat content
  • The dog is often more agile and productive
  • It often smells better
  • Grain-free feed
  • Shiny fur
  • In addition to this type of Human Grade Dry Dog Food, there are other flavors with a high meat content.
  • Firm stool and optimal digestion
  • Good tolerance – many Labradors with allergies tolerate this food very well.
  • No more scratching and licking of paws

Wet Food

Benefits of Wet Food

  • As the name suggests, it contains a lot of moisture. This is good for the Labrador’s fluid balance.
  • Often better in taste than dry food and therefore preferred by many dogs
  • Older dogs and four-legged friends with tooth and gum problems can eat it without any problems because it is soft
  • Larger portions can be eaten without damaging the Labrador’s figure, as they are less energetic

Disadvantages of Wet Food

  • Can also lead to more droppings
  • Sometimes contains preservatives and flavor enhancers
  • Less environmentally friendly as there is a lot of waste
  • Labeling of ingredients also sometimes leaves a lot to be desired

Which wet food is recommended for the Labrador?

As with dry food, there are 1001 options on the market for wet food.

With wet food, too, it is again important that your dog likes the food and that it receives all the nutrients it needs.

A lot of wet foods offer an adequate supply and keep your dog healthy. It is therefore almost impossible to list all the very good types of feed.

The amount of food must be adapted to the dog’s turnover and activity level.

As an example, we can recommend Ollie’s fresh food for dogs. They have a human-grade dog food subscription service prepared by an experienced team of dog-lovers:

Why do we recommend this wet food for the Labrador?

  • High meat content
  • Without artificial coloring
  • Without preservatives
  • Great variety for the dog due to the different flavors
  • Shiny fur
  • Firm stool and optimal digestion
  • Good tolerance – many dogs with allergies tolerate this food very well.
  • No more scratching and licking of paws

What Ingredients Should Food Contain To Keep Your Labrador Retriever Healthy?

Proteins: Your dog needs proteins for a properly functioning immune system, the construction of cells and (muscle) tissue and growth. Opinions vary on how much protein a dog needs per day, but don’t worry if it’s getting a little more than necessary.

An excess of protein has no harmful consequences for his health. More important than the quantity is the quality of the proteins. The quality of proteins is higher the better the dog is able to digest them.

Carbohydrates: A dog needs carbohydrates to build cells. Carbohydrates also ensure proper functioning of the intestines and are an energy source for the dog.

Fats: Fats fulfill many functions in the body, but the most important one is to provide energy. Fats also ensure that certain types of vitamins are absorbed by the body and help keep the skin and coat healthy.

Vitamins: There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble vitamins (vitamins B and C) and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K). These vitamins can be found in both vegetable and animal products.

A dog needs both vitamins to stay healthy, but its body already produces a certain amount of vitamin C itself. Balanced dog food will contain enough of both types of vitamins.

Minerals and trace elements: Just like vitamins, minerals are indispensable for the health of your dog. Examples of minerals are calcium and phosphorus (both important for the construction of the skeleton), iron (important for oxygen transport in the blood) and zinc (important for the growth and health of the skin). Minerals and trace elements are sufficiently present in a balanced dog food.

What Not To Give Your Labrador Retriever!

Of course, you want to spoil your dog with a treat every now and then. In that case, do not give it bones, as these can shatter and cause damage in its intestinal tract.

Don’t give your dog anything from your own plate. That way you teach it to beg and this can be very annoying. In addition, our food is often too spicy and salty for a dog, which can upset its gut.

Avoid giving your dog sausage or cheese, and if you do, be very moderate with it. Sausage and cheese contain way too much salt and fat for a dog.

What you should never ever give a dog is chocolate! Chocolate contains the substance Theobromine, which can cause symptoms of poisoning, such as cardiac arrhythmias and seizures, and in severe cases can even lead to death.

How Much and How Often Do You Feed Your Labrador Retriever?

It is not possible to say exactly how much food your Labrador Retriever needs per day. Some dogs have a faster metabolism and / or a more active lifestyle than others. A Labrador Retriever has a naturally sturdy build and is known to be a good eater.

The packaging of dog food indicates exactly how much your dog needs per day. However, the indicated portions are often on the generous side. Therefore, keep an eye on whether your Labrador is not getting too fat, because it has a tendency to do so.

It is generally recommended that puppies are fed two to three times a day. An adult dog can manage once or twice a day. For example, you can feed your dog in the morning after you eat breakfast and in the evening after dinner.

I Want to Feed my Labrador Retriever Differently – What To Do?

Sometimes there are good reasons to switch your dog to a different diet or food. This includes:

  • Allergies / food intolerance
  • Change from puppy to adult food
  • Medically necessary change of feed (e.g. kidney problems)
  • The Labrador is supposed to get senior food
  • Your dog has been neutered and you are switching to diet food or a feed specially designed for neutered animals
  • You prefer a different type of feeding or a different brand

Most puppy owners are first faced with the task of slowly getting the Labrador used to a normal adult diet. While the usual feed from the breeder ended up in the bowl at the beginning, something else has to be found in order to cope with the changed nutrient conditions.

It is not a good idea to simply replace the usual food overnight. Puppies in particular often react very sensitively and get stomachache or diarrhea. To avoid this, you should always replace a small amount of the old food with the new one every time you feed. A plus: the puppy gradually gets used to the new taste and refusal to feed becomes unlikely.

Of course, you do the same if you want to get an adult Labrador used to a new feed.

A transition from dry to wet food is usually very straightforward. Many dogs prefer moist food and love to eat it. It is also easy to digest. Conversely, however, you should ensure that your Labrador is adequately hydrated. Because if chunks of dry food land in the bowl from now on, the gastrointestinal tract first has to adjust to the extra work in digestion. This is why a changeover usually takes a little longer. If your dog likes it, dampen the chunks a little.

If you are considering a B.A.R.F. diet for your Labrador, you may get a surprise at the beginning. Because contrary to expectations, some dogs initially refuse this diet. The reason: finished products are often full of flavor enhancers that smell and taste particularly appealing to the dog. In comparison, the raw food seems a bit bland to him.

But don’t worry. Most dogs get a taste for it very quickly and soon look forward to this particularly healthy diet.

How Do I Recognize a Well-Fed Labrador Retriever?

Many dog ​​owners use the breed standard as a guide when trying to find out if their dog is the ideal weight. However, this is difficult with the Labrador Retriever, because FCI Standard No. 122 does not contain any weight information.

However, here is a rough overview:

  • Males weight: approx. 29-36 kg
  • Females weight: approx. 25-32 kg

The weight must of course always be seen in relation to the size. This is roughly the same for both sexes. Males have an ideal height of 56-57 cm and females are only slightly smaller at 54-56 cm. However, deviations from this are possible.

In general it can be said that the female Labrador always look a bit slimmer than the male.

Weigh your dog regularly. So you can quickly find out whether his weight is fluctuating up or down. To do this, you can stand on the scales with your dog and then subtract your own weight from it. Of course you can also weigh the Labrador in the veterinary practice. Often you don’t even need an appointment.

Are you still unsure whether your dog has too much or maybe even too little on its ribs? Then it’s better to go to the vet and ask about it.

Here are a few tips on how to find out if your Labrador is being fed well:

  • Are the size and weight within the range mentioned above? Then everything is probably okay. However, a rather small bitch (e.g. smaller than the ideal size of 54-56 cm) that scratches the upper weight mark can be too fat.
  • Does your dog have a nice fur? Is it shiny and healthy? An improper diet, on the other hand, often leads to a dull coat.
  • Is the Labrador active and fun-loving? Or does it lie around a lot and don’t feel like it?
  • Can you feel the ribs? This should be possible without a lot of pressure. However, if you can easily feel or even see it, it may be underweight.
  • Look at your dog from above. Does it have a waist? That’s good. On the other hand, if it looks like a sausage, it is too fat.
  • The belly line should be pulled up slightly towards the back. A very straight stomach or even a pot belly speaks for too many pounds.
  • Often skin and fur problems are an indication of a poor diet.
  • If the dog sheds a lot of feces, this either speaks for poor quality food or it is simply getting too much of a good thing.