6 Best Labrador Dog Foods Plus Top Brands for Puppies and Seniors

The Labrador is consistently ranked the most popular dog in the United States by AKC statistics and it is also one of the most popular breeds in the UK and Canada.

As the name suggests, the Labrador Retriever was originally developed for retrieving game and, while he is still a talented hunter, he has also become incredibly popular as a family pet. These dogs are smart, trainable, and people-friendly which makes them an excellent family companion. You should keep in mind, however, that these dogs have very high needs for exercise and the risk for developing destructive behavior is very high if those exercise needs aren’t met.

In addition to having very high needs for exercise, the Labrador Retriever also has a high risk for some pretty serious health problems. Generally speaking, these dogs have a lifespan averaging 10 to 13 years but some of their health problems have the potential to limit that lifespan. Feeding your Labrador Retriever a high-quality diet is one of the best ways to maintain his health and maximize his lifespan.

Keep reading to learn more about your Labrador Retriever’s dietary requirements and to see our top 15 picks for the 2019 best dog food for Labrador Retrievers.

Understanding a Labrador Retriever’s Diet Requirements

Your dog has the same basic needs for protein, fat, and carbohydrates s any other breed. Protein provides the building blocks for strong muscles when your Labrador Retriever is a puppy then helps him maintain lean muscle mass as an adult. The best proteins are animal proteins like meat, poultry, and fish because they are digestible and because they are complete proteins for your dog.

Fat provides a concentrated source of energy which helps your puppy growth quickly and gives your adult dog energy for exercise. It should come from animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil with a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. Just make sure the fat content of your dog food isn’t too high because puppies could grow too fast and adult dogs could become obese.

Carbohydrates provide your dog with energy, fiber, and essential nutrients. Because they are plant products, however, your dog has a limited ability to digest them. Whole grains, vegetables, beans, and legumes are generally the most digestible. If your dog has food allergies, however, you might want to steer clear of grains and focus on vegetables or legumes.

  • Puppy Labrador Retrievers Diet – As a puppy, your Labrador Retriever needs a minimum of 22% protein and 8% fat in his diet. Both of these should come from animal sources.
  • Adult Labrador Retrievers Diet – When your Labrador Retriever reaches his full size, he needs a large-breed adult recipe that provides at least 18% protein and 5% fat. More protein is better to maintain lean muscle mass but keep the fat content moderate to avoid obesity.
  • Senior Labrador Retrievers Diet – As your Labrador Retriever gets older, his risk for obesity increases as his metabolism slows down. Check the feeding recommendations on your adult recipe and adjust accordingly or switch to a large-breed senior recipe for calorie control and joint support.

A good dog food will meet your dog’s basic requirements for protein, fat, and carbohydrates but your Labrador Retriever can also benefit from fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy supplements. Fresh fruits and veggies provide natural sources for key nutrients and they are more biologically valuable than synthetic supplements. Chelated minerals are mineral supplements that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which increases their absorption. Your dog can also benefit from prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion, and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

Special Dietary Considerations for Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever is a wonderful breed but, unfortunately, he is prone to a number of serious health problems. The health problems to which the breed is prone can be divided into groups by musculoskeletal issues,

Here is a quick list of the health problems to which the Labrador Retriever may be prone:

  • Allergies
  • Acute Moist Dermatitis
  • Ear Infections
  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye Problems
  • Gastric Dilation
  • Myopathy
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans
  • Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia

Let’s take a closer look at some of these health problems.

When it comes to eye problems, the Labrador Retriever is prone to cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, though others are possible as well. A cataract is an opacity that forms in the lens of the eye and causes a partial or complete obstruction of vision. It is not a painful or dangerous condition unless the cataract luxates. Progressive retinal atrophy is a condition that leads to gradual degradation of the retina and a progressive loss of vision.

As a large breed, the Labrador Retriever is also prone to a number of musculoskeletal issues such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and osteochondrosis dissecans. Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the femoral head slips in and out of the hip joint, causing inflammation and joint damage. Elbow dysplasia is a similar condition of the elbow joint and both can lead to a higher risk for arthritis. Osteochondrosis dissecans is caused by the improper growth of joint cartilage and can lead to painful joint stiffening.

In addition to these conditions, the Labrador Retriever is also prone to a number of inherited health conditions including epilepsy, myopathy, and tricuspid valve dysplasia. The breed also has a high risk for gastric dilation because he is a large, deep-chested breed. Gastric dilation is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach fills with air and twists, cutting off blood flow. It can happen when your dog eats too much, eats too fast, or swallows too much air while eating.

The Labrador Retriever is also prone to skin problems like acute moist dermatitis as well as allergies. Allergies can be caused by contact or inhalant allergies or by food ingredients. Some of the most common food allergens for dogs include wheat, corn, and soy as well as common proteins like chicken, beef, and pork. Feeding your dog high-quality natural diet made with a limited number of ingredients can reduce the risk for triggering food allergies.

Labrador Puppy Food

Labrador Retriever Feeding Chart

As a puppy, your Labrador Retriever needs a protein- and calorie-rich diet to fuel his growth and development. Protein provides the building blocks for strong muscles while fat provides calorie to fuel his metabolism. You want to be careful, however, that you don’t let your Lab grow too quickly because that could increase his risk for musculoskeletal issues in adulthood. Feeding a large-breed puppy recipe is a great idea because it is formulated to support large-breed puppies without causing them to grow too quickly.

When your Labrador Retriever reaches 12 months of age, or about 75% of his adult size, you can switch to a large-breed adult recipe, so he doesn’t gain too much weight. These recipes are rich in protein for lean muscle mass with moderate fat for protein. Keep in mind that Labrador Retrievers have a high risk for obesity, so follow the feeding instructions carefully and keep an eye on your dog’s body weight and condition in case you need to make adjustments.

The Best Dog Food for Labrador Retrievers: Our Top 15 Picks for 2019

Now that you have a better understanding of your Labrador Retriever’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for dog food! Remember, the best Labrador Retriever food will be made from wholesome natural ingredients including lean proteins, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates. Beneficial supplements like chelated minerals, probiotics, and glucosamine will be a bonus. Here are our top 15 picks:

FirstMate Grain-Free Pacific Ocean Fish Meal LID Large-Breed Recipe

Overall Best Food for Labrador Retrievers: If you want to maximize your Labrador’s Retriever while minimizing his risk for food allergies, try this FirstMate Grain-Free Pacific Ocean Fish Meal LID Large-Breed Recipe. This recipe features a limited number of high-quality natural ingredients and it is completely free from fillers and artificial additives. It features ocean fish meal as a single source of animal protein and is completely free from chicken ingredients. It contains grain-free carbohydrates like potatoes with nutrient-rich chicken fat as a controlled source of calories. It also contains chelated minerals and supplemental glucosamine.

  • Pros: Single source of novel protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in essential fatty acids, limited number of main ingredients, chelated minerals, glucosamine for joint support
  • Cons: May be too high in fiber for some dogs, expensive to feed as a staple diet

American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Large-Breed Adult Recipe

Most Affordable Food: If you’re looking for an affordable dog food that offers decent quality, try this American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Large-Breed Adult Recipe. Formulated for large-breeds, this recipe features real chicken as a lean source of protein and a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. This recipe contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide nutritional balance. It is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with ideal levels of calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and joints. It also contains chelated minerals and dried fermentation products for probiotic support.

  • Pros: High-quality natural ingredients, lean source of protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, high in protein with moderate fat, fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in omega fatty acids, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients

Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food

Most Popular Food: If you can’t decide what to feed your Labrador Retriever, this Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food is a popular choice. Naturally grain-free and made with a single source of animal protein, this recipe has a low risk for triggering food allergies. It features real lamb as the first ingredient with other whole-food ingredients for fiber and nutritional support. It contains a healthy blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat support with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also contains probiotics for digestion.

  • Pros: Novel source of animal protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, prebiotics and probiotics
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

NomNomNow Fresh Food Delivery Service

Super Premium Food: To ensure that your Labrador Retriever gets the highest quality food money can buy, try NomNomNow. This is a fresh dog food delivery service which creates custom meals for your dog and delivers them right to your door on a monthly basis. With several recipes to choose from, you can select the option that best suits your dog’s preferences as well as his nutritional requirements. Each recipe is catered to his nutrient and calorie needs, plus you can make adjustments if he has food allergies. Just fill out a simple profile online, choose your recipe, and start receiving monthly shipments. It is that easy!

  • Pros: Made with the freshest ingredients, custom meals for your dog, delivered fresh to your door, perfectly portioned pouches, automatic shipments
  • Cons: Limited number of recipe options, very expensive to feed, delivery restrictions in some areas

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet LID Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Large-Breed Recipe  

Best Food for Labrador Retrievers with Allergies: For a Labrador Retriever with food allergies, a limited ingredient diet is a must. This Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet LID Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Large-Breed Recipe features deboned lamb as a single source of animal protein – it is also a novel protein which further limits the risk for food allergies. This recipe contains grain-free carbohydrates like chickpeas and potatoes with supplemental sources of fiber like potato starch and lentils. It contains a blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat with chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption.

  • Pros: Made with a limited number of ingredients, single source of lean protein, grain-free carbohydrates, supplemental sources of fiber, chelated minerals, rich in essential fatty acids
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (potato protein), most fat is plant-based

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey Large Breed Recipe

Best Food for Labrador Retrievers with Sensitive Stomachs: If your Labrador Retriever has a sensitive stomach, you may want to feed him a grain-free recipe made with high-quality, natural ingredients. This Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey Large Breed Recipe features deboned chicken as a lean source of protein with digestible carbohydrates like potatoes and peas. It contains optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support. It is loaded with fresh fruits and veggies to provide natural sources of key nutrients with chelated minerals for balance and probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: High-quality ingredients, protein-rich chicken as main ingredient, grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, prebiotics and probiotics, glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Cons: May be too high in fiber for some dogs, some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients

3 Top Rated (5 Star) Labrador Retriever Adult Foods

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Chicken Large Breed Adult Recipe

If you’re looking for a simple natural recipe for your Labrador Retriever, try this Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Chicken Large Breed Adult Recipe. This recipe features lean chicken as a rich source of protein and a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. It also contains EPA for joint function, calcium and phosphorus for strong bones, and taurine for heart health.

Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Large Breed Adult Recipe

A holistic recipe made with natural ingredients, this Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Large Breed Adult Recipe would be a great choice for your Labrador Retriever. It features chicken meal as a concentrated source of lean protein and a natural source of joint-supporting nutrients. It also contains L-carnitine to support lean muscle mass with a special blend of nutrients to ensure a complete and balanced diet.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Large Breed Adult Recipe

For premium quality nutrition, it’s hard to do better than this Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Large Breed Adult Recipe. This recipe features high-protein kibble mixed with freeze-dried raw pieces to ensure protein-rich nutrition for your Labrador Retriever. It also contains grain-free carbohydrates for easy digestibility and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

3 Best Labrador Retriever Puppy Foods

Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Turkey & Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe

Though it isn’t specifically designed for large breeds, this Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Turkey & Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe could be a good choice for your Labrador Retriever puppy. It features protein-rich turkey and turkey meal with salmon meal for supplemental protein and healthy fats. It is grain-free and easy to digest with a low risk for triggering allergies or food sensitivities.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe

If you want to start your puppy with a high-quality diet that you can transition into an adult recipe, try this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe. This recipe features deboned chicken as a lean source of protein with an ideal blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It also contains optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and joints.

Solid Gold Wolf Cub Bison & Oatmeal Puppy Recipe

Designed for large-breed puppies and made with natural ingredients, this Solid Gold Wolf Cub Bison & Oatmeal Puppy Recipe is a holistic option for your puppy. It features fresh bison as the main ingredient with digestible whole-grain carbohydrates and a mix of 20 superfoods like pumpkin, blueberries, and carrots to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

2 More Picks for Senior Labrador Retriever Foods

AvoDerm Lamb Meal Senior Health Formula

Though not specifically formulated for large breeds, this AvoDerm Lamb Meal Senior Health Formula is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support with plenty of antioxidants for healthy immunity. It contains lean proteins to maintain your dog’s muscle mass with low fat to control calories. Overall, it is a high-quality and nutritionally balanced diet made with natural ingredients.

Halo Holistic Turkey, Turkey Liver & Duck Healthy Weight Senior Recipe

If you’re looking for a high-quality diet for your Labrador Retriever as he gets older, try this Halo Holistic Turkey, Turkey Liver & Duck Healthy Weight Senior Recipe. This holistic natural recipe is nutritionally balanced for senior dogs and easy to digest. It features fresh turkey as a lean source of protein with digestible grain-free carbohydrates like lentils and peas. It also contains probiotics for digestion.

Our FAQ and Labrador Retriever Feeding Guide

In addition to choosing a healthy and high-quality diet for your Labrador Retriever, you also need to think about the practical aspects of feeding him and keeping his food fresh. When it comes to choosing a dog bowl, remember that you’ll be feeding your dog 1 to 1 ½ cups at each meal, so it should be fairly large. You should also think about the materials from which it is made. Ceramic and stainless steel are affordable and durable options, though ceramic may break if your dog knocks it over. Both are easy to clean, however, and won’t harbor bacteria.

Storing your dog food properly is important because it starts to lose some of its nutritional integrity as soon as it is exposed to air. Fortunately, the inside of the dog food bag is treated to help keep the product fresh. The best thing to do is put the whole bag in an airtight container and store it in a cool, dry location between feedings.

And now, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding a Labrador Retriever:

How much food should I feed my Labrador Retriever? – The exact amount of food you give your Labrador each day will depend on his age, weight, and activity level as well as the calorie content of the dog food you choose. Generally speaking, however, you’ll be feeding your Labrador Retriever between 2 and 3 cups of food per day. The best thing to do is start with a large-breed dog food then refer to the feeding recommendations according to your dog’s age and weight then divide it into two daily meals.

How many times a day should I feed my Labrador Retriever? – As a puppy, your Labrador Retriever may need three meals a day to fuel his growth and development. Once he reaches about 75% of his adult size, or 12 months of age, you should switch to a large-breed adult recipe to prevent overgrowth. Adult and senior Labrador Retrievers should get two meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening.

What kind of food do Labrador Retrievers eat? – The best dog food for any dog is made from high-quality, natural ingredients and formulated to meet his nutritional needs. Fresh food is a great option for Labrador Retrievers because it offers high digestibility and nutritional integrity – both of these are important if your dog has a sensitive stomach or food allergies. Fresh food can be very expensive, however, and you’ll be feeding your Labrador Retriever a lot on a daily basis. For a more affordable option, try a high-quality dry food or a dry food mixed with freeze-dried raw pieces so your dog gets the nutritional benefit of raw food with the convenience and dental benefits of dry food.

What vegetables are good in a Labrador Retriever food? – Fresh vegetables provide your dog with dietary fiber as well as natural sources for vitamins and minerals. As such, they are a valuable addition to any high-quality dog food. Here are some of the best vegetables for Labrador Retrievers:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini

Providing your dog with fresh vegetables as a healthy snack is a good idea even if the dog food you choose contains fresh vegetables. Just make sure that the vegetables you choose are safe for dogs to eat and that you clean them well before feeding. You should also feed small amounts to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach from an overload of fiber.

Do Labrador Retrievers need grain-free dog food? – There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the long-term safety of grain-free recipes for dogs, but the fact remains that there is no conclusive evidence as of yet. Keep in mind, however, that the Labrador Retriever has a high risk for food allergies and grains are a common culprit. If your dog is allergic or sensitive to grains, feed him a grain-free diet. Otherwise, a regular dog food will be fine.

A Final Word

Now that you know the basics about your Labrador Retriever’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for the best Labrador Retriever food. Remember to look for a product that is made from wholesome natural ingredients including lean proteins, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates. Beneficial supplements like chelated minerals, probiotics, and glucosamine will be a bonus.

If you’re still not sure where to start in choosing the best Labrador Retriever dog food, try one of our top 15 picks reviewed above!

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