Your lovable labrador retriever is America’s sweetheart, continuously ranking as the AKC’s most-popular breed. The high-spirited sidekicks can range from 65-80 pounds (for males) and 55-70 pounds (for females) and stand between 21.5-24.5 inches tall.
With lots of love and care, your medium-to-large-sized dog will be a family companion for approximately 10-12 years.
As a new lab owner you might be asking - how much to feed a lab puppy? In general, your labrador will do well on an age-appropriate, high grade dog food, which can be store-bought or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s approval.
Puppies, adults and senior dogs all have different dietary needs. And labradors love people food, too – so it’s best to watch out for what human foods are safe or not. Labradors can gain weight easily and seem to always be hungry.
So, even though they’re an active breed, it’s not hard for them to fall into the overweight category – which is usually in direct result to overfeeding.
Watching your lab’s quality and quantity of food intake from the puppy stage on is very important so he or she can be as healthy as possible and that's why we put together this Labrador food guide - just for YOU!
For the first 8 weeks of your pup’s life, it is best for him or her to nurse from mom. The weaning process may begin around 6 weeks of age, and at that time, puppy chow can be introduced.
Commercially manufactured puppy food is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs for normal development.
Puppies start out needing many small meals a day – just like human babies. Between 6-12 weeks of age, four feedings per day should be offered. At 3-6 months of age, you can decrease your pup’s feedings from four to three times a day.
Sometime between 6-12 months, you can begin feeding twice daily. And after 1 year, you can introduce adult chow in two portions daily.
Most, but not all, labradors will finish their meals quickly. Feed at regular intervals to discourage picky habits, and don’t leave their food out for more than 10-20 minutes.
Depending on your furry friend’s eating habits, when he or she reaches the senior years (around 7 years old), you can leave food out for grazing throughout the day.
Just be sure they don’t gobble it all at once and make themselves sick! You have to trust your specific pet – and any other four-legged companions you may have in your household.
How much you feed your lab each day depends on your particular dog’s size and metabolism. Most store-bought dog foods have a specific feeding guide based on your puppy’s weight that you can reference.
Premium food with higher-quality ingredients has higher nutritional density as well, so you can feed your dog less to gain the same results.
And if your puppy skips a meal or doesn’t eat his portion in one setting, don’t worry. You might just need to reduce the amount served, or she might be ready to eliminate a feeding.
Also, if you’re giving treats for training, you may need to adjust the amount of food you feed at mealtime or keep the treats as small as possible.
Labradors come in a wide variety of sizes, so average growth and weight figures can be misleading. On average, lab puppies will weigh just over two pounds for each week of age.
For example, an 8-week-old pup might weigh around 16 pounds, and a 4-month old puppy might weigh around 32 pounds.
If you’re concerned about your puppy’s growth, you can weigh your puppy weekly to record her progress and adjust food intake if needed.
Weighing a squirming puppy might sound difficult, but it’s relatively easy! Just weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding the puppy and subtract the difference.
Your labrador is a high-energy, active breed that needs a lot of exercise every day. Without proper exercise, labs are prone to destructive behavior to release their energy.
Take your pup on at least one, long, brisk walk each day. As they get older, and if you are the adventurous type like we are, then you can determine is your dog ready to hike or not.
A game of fetch is also an easy way to get your dog running off his energy. Labs are in the sporting group of dog breeds, so hunting trips and agility, obedience and tracking activities are all good ideas to keep your puppy moving.
But, keep in mind, that this boundless amount of energy keeps them hungry, and your lab could act hungry all day. Remind yourself that they don’t really need all that food, avoid overfeeding, and they’ll be your whole family’s best friend for many years.
Labradors fall into the category of large-breed when it comes to specialized dietary needs, due to their risk of hip dysplasia. A labrador can grow from just under a pound at birth to over 70 pounds in one year.
This rapid growth means their bones must change quickly, and this must be supported by their nutrient intake. And, unlike smaller breeds that can be fed as adults around 9-12 months, larger breeds like labradors are still considered puppies until 12-18 months.
It’s better to err on the side of caution and feed puppy food longer than switching to adult food too soon.
There is a large variety of high-quality puppy food available for you to feed your lab. When looking for a puppy food for your labrador, look at labels that meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient profiles for “growth,” “all life stages,” and “including growth of large size dogs.”
Foods with these labels meet the nutrient guidelines for the proper amount of calcium and phosphorus for your large-breed companion. (All links below are via Chewy our preferred online retailer)
Food allergies can show up in a few different ways on your labrador’s skin, including their ears. If your pup has hot spots on their skin, sore spots from excessive licking, or constant ear infections (which could be a buildup of yeast), your companion might be suffering from a common food allergy or allergies.
Please consult your veterinarian to discuss possible allergies and foods to avoid and foods to eat.
The top 5 food allergens for labradors include:
If your labrador has allergies, you may have to feed them hypoallergenic food or look for a food with limited ingredients. (All links below are via Chewy our preferred online retailer)
Limited Ingredient foods:
Who can resist your labrador’s perpetual puppy-dog eyes – especially when they’re staring up at you while you’re at the dining room table?
But just because we’d like to give our puppy everything – including the extra food on our plate – doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), a few human food items are not safe for your labrador to eat.
Even some fruits and vegetables can be dangerous for your dog’s body and can cause severe health problems.
Congratulations to YOU for looking out for your Lab's best nutritional interests!
Your dog will no doubt live a long and healthy life thanks to the research you are putting into their dog food by following this labrador feeding guide.
You will need some trial and error to find the right formula that your lab will respond to the best. Just keep paying attention to it's needs and over time you might have to make adjustments.
As long you remember dogs have nutritional needs just like you and I then feeding your lab the right the amount will be easy. That along with plenty of exercise (yes, that means you too!) will have you both enjoying your best lives!
What's your Labrador's name and how old is she/he? Let me know in the comments...
The opinions and analysis contained on this website are my own personal views - along with Gunnar's input of course - and countless hours of research.
These reviews are here to help you make a more informed purchasing decision in regards to feeding your dog the best food possible. Be aware though, that every dog is unique and no food will be good for all dogs. If you are in doubt, consult a qualified veterinarian.
Puplore does not accept money, gifts or samples from dog food companies. I do receive a small affiliate commission if you decide to purchase from our links which allows me to pay my bills on time and continue to spoil Gunnar as much as I can!!
As you can see, Gunnar makes Drew do all the work but heading outdoors with your best friend is never really work! Drew buys the products and Gunnar does the testing so you can rest assured you are reading the most up to date information to make the best decision for your dog's health and well-being!
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