The Labrador Brats Dog Blog

Labrador Retrievers and Dog Food: What to Feed Them

So you have this new beautiful Labrador Retriever puppy or full grown rescue Lab and you have no clue what to feed it. Does that sound familiar? It should. There are are currently over a hundred dog foods in the U.S. market alone; deciding which one to choose can make any new dog owner’s head spin. You want what’s best for your pup but you don’t want to break your bank account while trying to give Fido to the best.

Dog Breeds and Dog Food

There is a direct link between the dog breed you have and the dog food it needs. Smaller breeds tend to live a longer life given that they are not prone to many of the health problems larger breed dogs face such as hip dysplasia, OCD, poor eye sight, and so on. The large breed dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, need vital nutrients and minerals during all stages of their lives, but especially during the newborn to 18-month old growth stage.

To ensure that breeds such as Labrador’s get what they need from the food they eat, a number of companies have come out with Large Breed and Puppy Large Breed dog foods. These foods may contain higher levels of Glucosamine (for healthy bones & joints), lower calories (to maintain weight), higher protein (for strong muscles and ligaments), and additional vitamins and minerals to sustain a healthy immune system.

Puppies vs. Older Dogs

It goes without saying that puppies and older dogs are much different and therefore have different needs. Puppies are in constant growth and need foods with high quality proteins listed as the first ingredient of the dog food you are going to use. Chicken meal and Lamb meal are two top choices for most Lab owners as the word “meal” just means that it is a dry form of the product. They will also need more calories then older dogs but do keep in mind that the more you feed, the more waste. So, you will want to choose a food that does not require high quantities but more quality nutrients per serving.

Older dogs have varying requirements. Some Labs will become overweight with age due to poor feeding or lack of exercise. for this reason, it is best to speak with your rescue group volunteer about the specifics of that particular dog’s dietary needs prior to welcoming it home.


Over the course of the years we have had Labrador Retrievers and spoken with other Lab owners, it has become more obvious that a number of Labradors have sensitive allergies to certain types of food. It is not uncommon for a Lab owner to go through many foods before finally finding a food that both meets the pup’s dietary needs as well as provides relief from the dog’s allergies. It’s best to avoid foods that contain chicken by-products as this is usually a main culprit of Labrador Retriever food allergies. Most lower quality food will list chicken or other animal by-products as one of their top 10 ingredients. If this is the case, leave the bag on the shelf and keeping moving.

Best Foods for Labrador Retrievers

First, let me point out that I am in no way paid for or affiliated with any specific dog food companies. My advice is provided by my own trial and error with our chocolate Lab, Dakota, who suffers from chicken meal and chicken by-product induced allergies.

Based upon our own experience and the wealth of knowledge provided by other Labrador Retriever owners world-wide, the following dog foods are well suited for the Labrador dog breed (listed in no particular order):

Feeding Time!

Your pup looks at you with the saddest and cutest face it can, and you want to give it food, do you? Well unless it is one of those designated times of the day for feeding, the answer simply no. If we gave food to one of our Labs every time they looked at us that way, they wouldn’t be able to make it through the doorway! With this in mind, here are some simple things to keep in mind when feeding your furry family member:

Feeding time should be a positive experience in your home. If you give your Labrador Retriever the best dog food to sustain a health, happy, and long life, then you are very responsible Lab owner and deserve a round of applause. Remember, your Lab relies on you to keep it healthy and safe. Loaded with this information, you can now make a more well-informed decision about what your Lab should be putting into it stomach.

Many Lab owners will testify that allergic reactions and poor health due to dog food is something that every Labrador family must be knowledgeable about. Such reactions and poor health not only hurt your dog but the medical expenses to find out and fix the problems could put a huge dent in your piggy bank. Myself, as well as these other Lab owners, have come to realize that although you may spend more on higher end dog foods now, it is a huge savings in the long run. Not only can you be spared those medical expenses but you decrease the chance of having to see Fido scratching uncontrollably, being in pain from advanced joint problems, losing its fur, gnawing/licking its paws continuously, and having skin irritations that lead to infections and a life that we, ourselves, would not want to live. I am sure you will agree that the price is well worth the quality of life for your Labrador Retriever.