While Labrador Retrievers (Labs) are known to be one of the best family dogs, they are also known to become obese in adulthood.
This is one of the many reasons it’s important to find the best dog food for Labs that meets the nutritional needs of this breed.
As a practicing veterinarian, I have seen hundreds of Labrador Retrievers walk through my clinic doors for nutritional advice.
The Labrador Retriever is a large breed dog with a squat body, floppy ears, a paddle-shaped tail, and webbed feet.
They excel at swimming, short distance sprints, and retrieving. Laboratories typically live an average of 12 years.
These dogs tend to be very energetic dogs throughout their lives and require daily exercise. Labrador Retrievers tend to have extremely large appetites.
They can easily become counter-surfers, jump onto kitchen counters for an unattended snack, or chew on a discarded apple core on the sidewalk.
Today I’m sharing my recommendations for the best Labrador dog food brands based on what stage they are at in their life.
I will go into all of the details below in this article.
Your healthy appetite can be a blessing and a curse.
Many labs are not picky eaters, so they usually enjoy whatever dog food you want to give them.
It is extremely important to speak to your veterinarian about the best laboratory dog food that will meet all of your nutritional needs without adding unnecessary calories.
Labradors are one of the easiest breeds to overfeed.
I have met many who are bottomless pits, constantly begging for whatever you can provide.
They need to be careful about their caloric intake and make sure they are eating healthy.
The best dog food for Labrador Retriever puppies
Always consult a veterinarian before changing your dog to a new diet. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a veterinarian.
Large breed puppies like Labs are more prone to malnutrition and developmental orthopedic diseases than small breed puppies.
Many lab owners have heard of these diseases – hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis (OCD), panosteitis, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD).
While these diseases have a genetic component, there are significant diet-related risk factors that play a role in puppyhood.
These risk factors are rapid growth and excessive dietary calcium intake.
Even moderate overfeeding of Labrador Retriever puppies and young adults can result in obese adults and decreased life expectancy.
It’s important to feed them just enough the best Labrador Retriever dog food that will provide the perfect nutritional balance for their needs.
Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Breed Health Diet Puppy
When it comes to recommending the best dog foods to Labrador Retrievers younger than 15 months, I urge pet parents to look for it Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Breed Health Diet Puppy.
Royal Canin did all of the work for us to create their Labrador Retriever-specific puppy food.
Labradors are a slower maturing breed and this puppy food is recommended to be fed until they are 15 months old.
The calorie content and mineral balance are optimal to prevent orthopedic developmental diseases.
Labradors are also notorious for not chewing their food properly. In the veterinary field, we call it “vacuuming”.
This Royal Canin snack was specially developed for optimal digestion in dogs (ahem, Labs) who do not chew their food.
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Puppy
I also recommend Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Puppy.
Hill’s Science Diet has been a leader in animal nutrition since the early 20th century.
The large breed puppy formula has been tweaked over the years, but offers consistent high quality nutrition to promote health growth in Labrador Retrievers.
It’s fortified with omega-3 fatty acids like DHA to promote healthy brain, joint, and skin development.
All Hill’s Science Diet products are made in the USA from North American raw materials.
Ideal balance large breed puppy
If you’re interested in Hill’s Naturals line, now you have one Ideal balance large breed puppy Food that goes well with the best dog food for Labrador Retrievers at this early stage in life.
This food is made from natural ingredients with added vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Brown rice is a great source of natural fiber in this diet that aids digestive health.
We all know puppies have a tendency to eat things they shouldn’t, so they need all the digestive support they can get.
The best dog food for adult Labrador Retrievers
When looking for the best dog food for Labrador Retrievers who are 15 months old or older or are switching from puppy food to adult food, it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian.
Your vet can help you determine the current body condition score of your laboratory. With this hand you can decide which “maintenance” parenting is best for adults.
Normal body condition Labrador Retriever
Lab is a great starting point for an active, normal body weight / condition Royal Canin Labrador Retriever breed health nutrition adult.
This adult formula is great for adults over 15 months to 7-8 years of age.
Royal Canin offers the right nutritional balance to optimize a lean body condition over a lifetime.
Just like the Royal Canin Labrador puppy food, this food is also optimally shaped for digestibility. Labs apparently never grow out of their “Hoover phase”!
Very active / hunting Labrador Retriever
They may need a higher calorie food than the average house dog.
In this case I recommend Native performance dog food.
If your Lab is training hard this is the food for them. Native offers different nutritional levels, from Level 1 food for the off-season with little activity to Level 4 for dogs that are intensely active 4-5 hours a day.
Low-active / couch potato Labrador Retriever
Many adult Labradors become easily overweight or obese.
As labs get older, they can lose some of their sperm and move into a more sedentary lifestyle.
I often have to make recommendations for the best dog food for Labrador Retrievers in this category.
It is important to speak to your veterinarian if your laboratory is overweight or has a health condition at the same time, like a topy, which causes allergic, itchy skin. Some foods can target multiple problems.
Generally I reach out Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolism and Mobility when Labradors get a little too bulky and their owners have come to me to help.
This diet is by prescription only, but it works wonderfully in middle-aged labs that don’t seem to be shedding pounds.
Over time, being overweight can make labs predisposed to arthritis. Therefore, the mobility component helps to keep the joints in tip-top shape.
The best dog food for laboratories seniors
Labrador Retrievers are considered “older” or “geriatric” around the age of 8.
As they age, their nutritional needs change too. Joints start to hurt and mental function may decrease.
I recommend for senior labs Eukanuba Lamb and Rice Senior Maintenance.
Eukanuba is another high quality dog food manufacturer with an excellent track record of quality products and high quality control standards.
This food is characterized by high levels of antioxidants that can support proper cell function in aging dogs. It has also been shown to reduce tartar build-up on teeth by 46%.