Labs are a fantastic breed- great for families and fun, so when looking for the best dog food for Labradors, it is important to be diligent.
Ask some key questions and have high standards for your pup’s palate (they will thank you in the long run).
Is the food balanced?
High enough in protein?
Fiber? Vitamins and minerals?
These just scratch the surface of necessary inquiries.
To make this simple and fun, we have investigated the nuances of nutrition and broken down what you need to know to feed the lab you love.
In this article, we’re going to review the following foods for Labradors dogs:
- Weruva Grain Free Food for All Life Stages
- Natural Ultramix Red Meat with Raw Bites
- Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Eats
- Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Dog Food
- Purina Beneful Incredibites Adult Dry Dog Food
- Dog Greens- Organic Additions to Doggy Diets
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Recipe
- Wellness Core Air Dried Natural Dog Food
- Canidae All Life Stages Dog Dish
- Eukanuba Adult Medium Breed Dry Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Food
- Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food
- IAMS Proactive Health Dry Dog Food
- Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food
Fast Facts for Filling Labrador Food
Your lovely Labrador deserves a healthy and balanced diet.
Nutrition needs vary from breed to breed and based on the size and metabolism of the dog themselves.
These medium sized dogs require a high protein diet, coupled with age appropriate inclusion of micro-nutrients.
At puppy age, these dogs benefit from a higher fat content and probiotics.
When these dogs are seniors, it is best to incorporate specific nutrition like glucosamine and chondroitin.
How to Source the Liveliest Labrador Lunches
Is a Big-Name Brand Best?
It isn’t about the name on the label, quality is a reflection of ingredients and recipes.
Some ‘big-name’ brands can have major drawbacks (inclusion of additives and by-products).
Other name-brand options are very high quality.
The best option is to establish criteria that are a necessity, and only choose foods that meet your demands.
Read the Label the Right Way
When we do diligence on food options, first we check the origin of the ingredients.
Are they from a reliable source?
Next, we check the ingredients themselves.
The first listed ingredient is found the most in the food, and the list continues in descending order.
Are there allergies? Irritations?
Check the ingredient list to be prudent.
Lastly, check the calorie count to make sure it is not too high/low for your lovely lab.
Nutritional Landmarks of the Labrador
- Puppy Palette: During these years, stick to kibble specifically formulated to young dogs. Their nutritional needs are different than adult counterparts. Of the increased demand is for more fatty acids, as well as needing a smaller kernel size
- Adult Appetite: As the dog reaches adulthood, the appetite will increase. Meals should put more focus on protein of diverse sources (to ensure balance).
- Senior Staples: Once your dog gains senior status, some food adjustments are needed. Including supplements (often found in kibble) to account for potential joint damage is essential to a long life and healthy skeletal system.
What to Do with Sensitive Stomachs and Allergies?
The first (and most nerve wracking) step, is to identify the allergen.
Learn what the irritant is before acting.
If your dog is intolerant of chicken, they may still be able to eat grains (and vice versa).
For our pups with sensitive stomachs, we like to avoid gluten and artificial additives.
This is a safe method of keeping their digestive systems healthy.
If you learn that your pup has a specific intolerance, ensure that you accommodate this when purchasing a pet food.
Considerations When Choosing a Canine Chow
What’s in the Food?
We are what we eat (and dogs are no different).
Ingredients matter a great deal in determining the overall health of the Labrador.
Are there by-products? Preservatives? Additives?
These are the ingredients it is best to avoid.
Is there significant, high grade protein? Fiber? Fruits and vegetables?
These are high quality ingredients for the pup palette.
Adjusting for Weight
All dogs are slightly different.
These discrepancies include height, weight, and metabolism.
Unless the dog is trying to lose weight (accounting for a slow winter, for example), it is best to feed heavier labs a proportionately larger amount.
Slighter dogs (unless you are trying to get them to gain weight), require proportionally less than their heavier counterparts.
Prep for the Perfect Puppy
Nutritional needs of dogs vary not only based on size, but also age.
Puppies have specific needs when it comes to doggy diets.
They require frequent, smaller feeding.
We prefer to split their daily food intake into three or four separate eating times.
Additionally, this age group benefits from smaller kibble itself.
Reduced kernel size works to prevent gassiness in these young dogs.
Nutrition and Requirements for Sensitivities
Sensitive stomachs benefit from careful feeding practices.
If you know that your Labrador is disinclined to certain ingredients, it is prudent to take measures to prevent further irritation.
It is common practice (one that my family follows dutifully), to avoid wheat protein inclusion.
This category includes the notoriously irritating substance known as gluten.
For dogs with very specific stomachs, many pet parents choose to avoid chicken as well (preferring instead red meat or fish).
Nutritional Needs for Labradors
Proteins and Essential Amino Acids
Proper intake of protein is critical to muscle (and cellular) development.
Incomplete proteins restrict proper formation of proteins.
When we eat these amino acids the body molds and shapes them into necessary proteins.
In order to produce a proper protein, it is essential that canines (and all mammals) consume all nine of these acids.
These represent what the pup cannot produce naturally.
Perfect proteins (those with all nine amino acids present) include meat, eggs, and dairy.
Joint Protection for Senior Labradors
Joint health is critical to general well-being.
Elbows, hips, and knees receive the brunt of impact whenever the dog takes a step (or runs, jumps, etc.).
This impact adds up over time and can lead to joint difficulties (and once joint issues start, they get progressively worse).
To mitigate these problems, when your dog begins to take the turn from adult to senior, it is best to find a food that incorporates glucosamine and chondroitin.
DHA and Taurine Inclusion
The mammalian benefits of these two ingredients have been scientifically proven to reduce fat accrual and benefit blood glucose.
These two ingredients work together to reduce chances of obesity and diabetes in canines.
It is important to balance intake of taurine with other ingredients (making it best when found in kibble and not supplements).
This acid is commonly found in energy drinks and is best consumed in moderation.
Foods that add this ingredient are best for dogs with slower metabolisms (since active thyroids are easy to overstimulate).
Calcium and Phosphorus for Sturdy Skeletons
Essential minerals are just that- essential.
Though small in amount, these chemicals provide the tools for proper skeletal development.
Unlike chondroitin and glucosamine, this duo is essential throughout the life cycle in varying amounts.
Calcium and Phosphorus work together to strengthen (and build) bones in the body.
Puppies and seniors require the largest amounts.
Adult dogs require significant amounts as well (relatable to the adult human’s need to drink milk).
Probiotics and Healthy Gut Flora
The benefits of yogurt are no secret.
We all know that the mammalian form lives in symbiosis with a plethora of pathogens.
The better we treat our gut bacteria, the healthier we tend to be.
Dogs however (mine especially), are not the hugest fans of the tangy taste of yogurt.
Because of this, we need to find them an option to ensure that their digestive bacteria are healthy and plentiful.
Foods that incorporate healthy probiotics can work wonders on the lab’s energy and digestive health.
The Best Diet for Labradors
Moderate to High Protein Diet
Labradors evolved as retrievers, meaning they spent a lot of time running, fetching, and swimming.
This left them with a fit form that requires significant protein intake to maintain muscle mass.
The best proteins for these pups tend to be meat, with a preference for fish.
Because of their picky coats, the omega fatty acids inside fish protein (especially salmon) makes the feature shiny and vivacious.
Calorie Count, Low to Moderate
Labradors are high energy, but do not see as much exertion as they once did.
Unless your dog is running miles each day, it is fair to say that they require fewer calories than their ancestors once did.
Since labs are wont to gain weight with heavier diets (and limited exercise), it is best to choose a food with a mid-range calorie count.
Moderate caloric intake is better than low, since with low there is the risk for underfeeding, whereas with medium-level calories, the pup will be easier to satiate.
Low-Fat Focus in Food
It isn’t the amount of fat; it is the quality.
Fats themselves are technically lipoproteins, which was colloquially shortened to lipids.
All lipids are not alike.
There are divergent categories of fats including saturated and unsaturated.
The fastest test is, if the fat is hard at room temperature, it is a saturated fat.
This type is more difficult to digest and puts added strain on the lab’s cardiovascular system.
Unsaturated fats (whether mono or poly) are generally easier to process and have cellular benefits to the dog’s system.
When reading the label, ensure limited saturated fat and plenty unsaturated fat.
Best (Dry and Wet) Dog Foods for Labradors
Combining a mix of healthy, lean proteins, this food meets the meat and fat requirements of the Labrador diet splendidly.
This moderately priced kibble provides a crunchy chow that dogs love.
We want to support the cardiovascular system of our dogs, and this food is a great option given its inclusion of salmon (for a healthy coat) and taurine to provide heart-healthy supplementation.
Our pets want to eat healthfully, but it is up to us to provide them with the food to do so.
This GMO-free meal avoids potential irritants such as soy and wheat.
Few options suit all phases of the life cycle, and this is one of them.
We love this especially for puppies who are towing the line of adulthood, since it provides a safe and hearty option for all phases of growth.
Our dogs take to this brand well since it is amenable to sensitive stomachs.
- GMO free and avoids filler ingredients
- Moderate calories per serving (perfect for labs)
- Suitable for all life stages and growth phases
- Poultry is raised free range for optimal quality
- Only 80% of the protein comes from meat
- Taurine is not matched with DHA inclusion
For fans of iron-rich red meat sources, this diet is a supreme option.
We adore it because it works to keep our pups’ blood at optimal health.
Iron is the chemical which works with hemoglobin in the blood.
This is essential to oxygen reaching the brain (and other parts of the body).
Energy improves when a healthy amount of this ferrous matter is in the diet of the dog.
Another key benefit is the inclusion of raw protein, since minimizing processing facilitates health of our furry friends.
In addition to these features, the meal is without additives and fillers (no corn, soy, etc.).
This avoids pesky irritants to the digestive system and lets the pup get the most out of the meal.
Fruits and vegetables are plentiful with their presence clear from just looking at the kibble.
This works to ensure fiber content is high (critical to uptake of nutrition).
- High in protein at 38% of the kibble content
- Beef is the first ingredient (meaning the most plentiful)
- Inclusion of raw bites reduces processing and eases digestion
- Grain free recipe to prevent digestive irritation
- Bite size suited only to adult dogs
- Includes pea protein (which in large amounts can be dangerous to dogs)
- Uses flavoring agents such as rosemary extract
We adore this food for protein sources.
Our favorite is the lamb because it provides a high-quality, unique taste for our pups.
This food is proudly made in the United States of America in small batches.
Generally, when production of food products is in smaller quantities, the quality can remain high.
The food is grain free which is essential to dogs with inclinations towards sensitive stomachs.
Labs are wont to have tummy troubles if consistently exposed to potential irritants.
This food mitigates this through its use of organic materials, as well as by avoiding glutenous materials.
The fruits and vegetables it includes are organic which reduces both processing and the chemicals the dog will eventually consume.
Pups evolved eating raw foods, so finding options for them with minimal processing is the best solution.
This food presents a suitable option for picky pet-parents and particular pup-palettes.
- Organic products included in the recipe to promote health
- Freeze drying used for raw ingredients
- Includes lamb, a flavorful source of raw meat
- No hormones or antibiotics included in the meal
- Lack of protein diversity in the kibble
- On the higher end of the pricing spectrum
- Relatively high calorically (adjust to fit individual dog’s needs)
Dry food, as you well know, should be the primary feeding source of your lovely Labrador.
The consistency and digestion of kibble promotes healthy stool and proper maintenance of the digestive system.
This kibble is an ideal source of protein that also boasts a well-balanced set of fats and fiber.
Raw kernels made of freeze-dried chicken are a part of the recipe.
The chicken itself is cage-free; and, since we are what we eat, this promotes general well being of the dog.
Another major draw is the inclusion of probiotics.
The dog’s body is an ecosystem that supports countless bacteria and viral cultures.
It is critical that these cultures remain balanced, since their symbiosis is such a major part of canine digestion.
To keep the healthy bacteria in their optimal state, we include probiotics in the diet.
Thankfully, this recipe allows us to include this beneficial flora without supplementation.
This both adds ease to the pocketbook as well as to the doggy diet.
Since the food is relatively low in price, the benefits are all the clearer.
- Includes probiotics for healthy gut flora
- High in protein and healthy fats
- Features freeze dried meat for raw dietary needs
- Uses chicken as the protein source (can be irritating to some dogs)
- Not specialized to large breed canines
If your dog is a picky eater, this food is a great solution.
This food is typically popular amongst pets who are difficult to please, as a result of its design for fast metabolisms.
Though this food is made for smaller dogs, Labradors, and their need for medium level caloric intake, benefit from this in a significant way.
Sensory issues rear their faces in several different ways.
For many dogs this shows itself relative to sound (thunder, vacuum cleaners, etc.).
In other pups, this trait will show itself relative to taste and touch.
Small bites with an amenable texture is a great kibble approach for dogs with this issue.
The variety includes vitamins sourced from vegetables which increases fiber intake and therefore the uptake of nutrition itself.
A fringe benefit of this food is the fact that it improves dental health of the pup eating the food.
While this does not reduce the need for brushing, it does add a level of calm to the dentally determined pet-parent.
- Great for picky eaters and sensitive stomachs
- Includes vegetables for fiber and vitamins
- Small bite size to reduce gassiness
- Includes peas (which can be dangerous in large quantities)
- Chicken (a potential irritant) is the main source of protein
- Not specific to large breed dogs
While this is not a primary food source, it is a wonderful addition to the doggy diet.
It encourages health by adding oft neglected ingredients to the pup’s regular feeding plan.
This edible supplement (which is easy to add to any food) includes spirulina, alfalfa, and wheatgrass.
These vivacious greens add value to any mammal diet.
We all know the clear benefits of antioxidants.
They work to reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the system.
Dogs, like people, suffer from the plethora of pollution in the air around us.
This increases the presence of the wild-card particles which we refer to as free radicals.
Given time, these pesky particles can cause mutagenic issues (such as cancer).
To prevent this, we can add antioxidants to the doggy diet in order to do everything we can to prevent these issues in their furry futures.
The recipe is free of gluten which makes it suitable for all dogs, especially Labradors, a breed with notoriously sensitive stomachs.
- Includes significant antioxidants
- High in fiber for proper hydration
- Suitable for all ages and life phases
- Works only as an addition to kibble/wet food
- No probiotics included in the recipe
Are you looking for a recipe that suits your dog’s sensitivities?
If so, this kibble makes a wonderful dietary staple.
Since skin is the largest organ of the body, it is a dietary crime to neglect its consideration.
Salmon is a fantastic source of protein, that is high in monounsaturated fats.
Because these fish spend their lives in cold water, the fats they contain do not harden (or they would be cakey in the fish, thus restricting its underwater motion).
These ‘fluid fats’ are beneficial to cellular structure and to skin health.
In addition to these values, they also provide the lab with the necessary ingredients to keep a healthy and shiny coat of fur.
We love this food because, when the lab sheds a great deal in the spring/summer, it works to keep their somewhat more exposed skin healthy.
Our pups benefit from this food through its high protein and balanced source of healthy fats.
- Fish protein (salmon) is the main ingredient
- Includes antioxidants to promote long term well-being
- Avoids filler ingredients like corn and soy
- Features rice as a healthy source of carbohydrates
- Relatively low calorically (may require adjustments for size)
- Does not feature red meat protein (may need iron supplementation
- Limited amount of vegetable inclusion
Your dog deserves the best, and that extends past ingredients, it ranges to the actual recipe used to make the food.
This option is healthy all around- including its cooking method.
When protein heats, it undergoes a naturation process that is irreversible.
This is easy to see when heating an egg.
Try and cool it back down all you want, but the whites will not return to their once fluid state.
Dog food protein is no different.
Because this brand is air dried, it prevents pre-digestion naturation of proteins, giving your pup the full benefit of the nutrition.
In addition to this handy method of cooking, the recipe includes leafy greens like spinach and kale (while avoiding those problematic peas).
It avoids potential tummy trouble by not including grains, and instead focussing on carbohydrates soured from vegetables.
I adore this option because it a suitable supplemental meal (or a table-time treat) as well as a full, balanced diet.
- Avoids gluten, corn, and soy (common fillers in dog food)
- Includes green veggies like broccoli and spinach
- Air dried to prevent issues in protein processing
- Lacks probiotics for healthy bacteria promotion
- Low in fat compared to similar brands (may require omega supplementation)
The reference this food makes to the canine family, ‘Canidae’ is an apt assessment.
This meal has all the essential building blocks for your lab to grow to their full potential.
One of the reasons our family adores this option is that it includes a multitude of meat proteins.
The food features fish, lamb, and turkey.
There are critical reasons to include all these different meats in the doggy diet.
Chicken is a lean, white meat protein that is low in fat and high in protein-focused calories.
Turkey contains the essential amino acid, tryptophan.
This iconic chemical is an easy-to-neglect necessity to all mammalian kind.
It works to improve temperament by facilitating proper production of serotonin (the neurotransmitter related to anxiety/calm).
Lamb is a great source of iron (being a red meat option) and avoids any potential issues with the consumption of beef.
Since the meats pair together, you can be sure that your pup is getting the necessities out of their kibble.
- Diverse sources of protein in the kibble
- Contains probiotics for healthy gut-flora
- Includes antioxidants for long-term well-being
- Features omega 3&6 fatty acids for a shiny coat
- On the pricier end of the cost spectrum
- Limited vegetables/fruits included
While it is a simple and straightforward option, this kibble provides a well-balanced option for doggy diets.
I like this food because, not only is it cost effective, but it can work as a staple in our pups’ meal planning.
Since we prefer to incorporate a variety of foods into our dogs’ diets, our focus is on finding a suitable base that avoids fillers and additives.
If this is your focus as well, this option is ideal.
I like that chicken is the primary ingredient since it is so important to focus on meat).
Additionally, the benefits of egg inclusion are significant.
Egg is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and essential cholesterol’s.
A little-known fat is that all cell membranes consist of cholesterol’s.
While it is critical to avoid overdoing it with these products, it is equally necessary that you include them in the diet.
We deem this as a suitable staple, provided you supplement the diet with other sources of food.
It includes vitamin supplements and fish oils to keep the coat shiny and works as an amenable baseline on which to found the diet.
- Low cost staple to include as a base for the diet
- Includes necessary vitamins and minerals
- Features egg as a protein source
- Boasts inclusion of beets for fiber and carotene
- Includes by-products from chicken
- Contains corn meal (not necessary to canine diets)
Best (Dry and Wet) Food for Labradors Puppy
This food is a fantastic choice for Labrador families since it is made for large breed puppies.
When dogs are young, they are at their most vulnerable, and it is up to us to put their health needs first.
This formula promotes optimal care during these formative months.
The recipe includes kernels that contain blends of minerals, vitamins and other beneficial ingredients like antioxidants.
This works to include vitamins dietarily (which will make them easier for the pup to process).
I like this recipe because it takes a full picture approach to wellness.
The inclusion of DHA to best represent the necessary nutrition of breast milk is a great way to fully wean the pups onto solids.
Our family really appreciates that this food is grain free.
Households with Labradors understand the frequency of stomach sensitivities with this breed.
This recipe works to mitigate this from a young age by not introducing these agents in the first place.
- Includes DHA (an ingredient also found in breast milk- perfect for pups)
- Contains the necessary vitamins and minerals
- Functions as a well-balanced diet for the puppy
- Lacks diversification of protein sources
- No probiotic inclusion in the formula
This is a great food option for all ages and phases, though we prefer it for the months while the pup is transitioning to adulthood.
There are no unnecessary bulking agents like corn or soy (which offer little to no benefit to the canine constitution).
One of the key benefits is that it avoids artificial colors and preserving agents.
Sometimes the benefit isn’t just in the ingredients, it’s in the lack thereof.
By adding omega fatty acids, it promotes a glossy layer of fur, and by including probiotics, the food keeps the internal flora content.
One of the biggest draws of this food is that, even though it is suited for all life stages nutritionally, it uses medium kernels.
When the bite size is too large, the Labrador puppy will have a harder time breaking it down.
If the size is too small for the pup, they will ingest excess air leading to gastric distress.
We always look for bite size that suits the size of our dogs, since it is necessary for healthy digestion.
The food itself is mid-line by way of caloric content, making it great for this breed.
- Avoids grains and gluten
- Does not contain filling agents like soy
- Ideal for all ages and phases
- Has a good kernel size for healthy digestion
- Not specific to puppies in formula
- Does not contain DHA/Taurine
Chicken and barley are a great jumping off point for this kibble.
Puppies benefit from this recipe’s use of rice (ideal for fiber).
It doesn’t matter how many beneficial ingredients are in the food if the dog is not absorbing them correctly.
You want to make sure that your pup is getting the benefits of the love and care you provide.
Having sufficient fiber in the puppy diet will facilitate the execution of this goal.
Fiber works not only to clean the system, but to encourage the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
It is essential to proper hydration which is critical to proper development (since most of the mammal is actually water).
This recipe includes barley which is a way to add starchy carbohydrates (long-term energy) and fiber (another component of carbs).
- Includes vitamins C and E for a good immune system
- Avoids additives and filling agents like corn and soy
- Contains DHA (ideal for puppies)
- Does not diversify its protein sources
- On the higher end of the cost spectrum
One of the best ways to ensure balance is to diversify the source of nutrition.
We would all tire of eating the same meal every day.
Why would pups be any different?
I like to keep this in mind when I feed my furry family.
This food is a great way to mix up the diet by incorporating wet food.
Labs are susceptible to tummy trouble, as we all know, so wet food cannot be a staple.
It does still make a great treat (but what pet-parent doesn’t love the chance to sneak in some nutrition).
Dogs love this recipe and we do too because it lets them savour healthy foods like brown rice and potatoes.
I love this choice for the end of a day filled with exercise. It is relatively high in calories, so portioning this out is necessary.
We give this food as a kibble supplement.
Once open, the can store in the fridge comfortably for up to twenty-four hours.
- Steers clear of artificial flavoring and coloring agents
- Includes healthy plant fiber like bran and rice
- High protein content for muscle development
- Wet food, thus cannot function as a dietary staple
- Does not include probiotics or DHA/Taurine
Labradors Dog Foods Related FAQs
How Often Should you Feed your Labrador?
Feeding schedules depend on the age of the lab. Puppies need to eat three to four times a day.
Adult Labradors require feeding twice a day (once in the morning and once in the late afternoon/evening).
Following this schedule will promote healthy digestion.
How Much Food Does a Labrador Need?
Adult Labradors need to eat roughly four and a half cups of food daily (split into two meals).
This must pair with adequate hydration and still allows room for treats.
How Much Food Does a Labrador Puppy Eat?
Puppies need to eat up to one and a half cups of food per meal (and tend to eat three to four daily meals.
Start with three meals and increase if required.
What Kind of Food Do Labrador Eat?
Labrador dogs benefit from a kibble-based diet, with wet food supplemented as a treat/special meal.
High protein and low-fat foods supply the best-balanced nutrition.
What are the Best Veggies for Labrador Foods?
Vegetables offer high supplies of vitamins and minerals. Carrots are great for vitamin A and beta carotene.
Leafy greens such as spinach are incredible sources of iron.
Avoid peas due to their inclusion of theobromine (the canine concern in chocolate).
Now that we have carefully inspected these canine chows, the winner of the roundup is clear.
Wellness Core Air Dried Natural Dog Food is the option with the ideal protein source, coupled with high fiber benefits.
This food focuses on the adult dog’s optimal nutrition.
While there are a lot of great options, this recipe supplies the best-rounded nutrition (including all factors like fiber, vitamins/minerals, and proteins).
Here we have a food that contains all the essentials (leaving room to supplement any necessary additives like probiotics or glucosamine).
We all want our lovely Labradors to have the best luck with their food, and by doing our diligence, and finding them the best feast, we maximize their odds of a healthy system.