The Pet Handbook is supported by our readers. If you buy via one of our links, we may earn a referral fee. This helps cover the cost of running our free blog. Read more here. Thanks for your support!
Like most large breed dogs, our labs grow from tiny, fragile newborns to energetic, active adults within a few years. Therefore, feeding them correctly with the right food is highly important. If this is your first time owning a Labrador or looking to provide your Lab better than before, then read through this article for all the essential details you need to know about feeding a Lab.
In this article, I’ll discuss what to look for when settling for the right food for Labs and, finally, my top five selections of the best puppy food for labs to help you narrow your search. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.
- High protein formula.
- Formulated for large breed puppies.
- Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics.
- Balanced set of minerals promotes strong bones & teeth.
- Optimal level of calcium for controlled bone growth.
- All natural premium ingredients.
- Comes in 3 sizes.
- Grain Free for dogs with allergies.
- Provides sustained energy for sporting dogs.
- Exclusive complex of antioxidants including vitamin E.
- Promotes healthy growth of bone structure and weight management.
Please continue reading for more in-depth reviews
1. Purina Pro Plan Dry Puppy Food
A fantastic product from a brand known for producing great quality canine meals, the Pro Plan Dry Dog Food offers you tremendous value at a moderate price.
The meal has high-quality chicken as its first ingredient providing your pooch with clean protein for building lean muscles and for overall excellent health. The meal is also rich in glucosamine that helps to minimize joint problems common with large breed dogs such as the Lab.
It also contains DHA required for your puppy’s vision and mental development. The meal’s blend of high-quality chicken and rice makes it a complete package of protein and other nutrients that canines under 15 months old require for growth and energy.
Like many other pet parents, you will be pleased with the incredible value you get for a moderately-priced meal.
Summary of the meal’s key features
- Its high-quality protein source
- Contains essentials like glucosamine and DHA
- Moderately priced
The formula is also available in grain-free chicken and lamb meal and rice options.
Another top brand that is known for producing quality meals for all canine types, Hill Science Large Breed Formula, caters to the large breed’s nutritional needs. As most Labs will weigh up to 55lbs at maturity, the food is fortified with chondroitin and glucosamine to aid bone and muscular health from their developmental stage.
The meal also contains other ingredients known to support the overall development of the large breed dog. It is safe, healthy and you can count on its blend of vitamins, minerals, and omega-6 fatty acids to improve overall health.
Summary of the meal’s key features
- Made in the USA with locally sourced and natural ingredients
- Rich in nutrients required for healthy fur and skin
- Rich in immune-boosting nutrients
And finally, it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, two ingredients known to minimize mobility issues in large breed dogs like the Labrador.
Free of added fillers and additives, the Wellness Core Puppy Food is a balanced mix of fat, carbohydrates, and protein made to cater to your Lab pup’s needs. As a high-quality meal, it is free of fillers, preservatives, artificial taste enhancers, and animal by-products that are commonly found in many canine meals.
Like many pet parents who purchased this food for their pooch and reviewed it, you will observe an improvement in your canine’s fur health and the ease of digestion your puppy enjoys, thanks to the presence of gut-friendly probiotics.
While it is a little high-priced, the meal’s premium ingredients make it worth it. Also, the meal formulation follows a strict quality control and testing standards the brand has always been known for. Not just that, the meal is favorably reviewed on Chewy, with many pet parents praising its high quality for the noticeable improvements in their pup’s overall health and development.
Summary of the meal’s key features
- Manufactured in the USA with high-quality locally sourced ingredients
- Free of grains like corn, wheat, and soy
- Available in different sizes
Victor Grain-Free Dog Food caters to the needs of the very active puppy and for the high standards of their meals. The meal contains four high-quality protein sources to provide the nutrition your pooch needs to thrive. The protein sources are beef, pork, fish and chicken with all of them making up 75% of the meal’s total protein content.
If you own a sporting dog or one with high energy demands, then this food is particularly good due to the makeup of the ingredients.
Summary of the meal’s key features
- It is completely grain-free
- High-quality protein
- Boasts complete and balanced nutrients
Like many dog owners, you will also like that the blend is formulated to meet the nutrition needs of both puppies and active adult dogs.
Formulated just for the Labrador puppy, the royal canine lab puppy food is made with your pup lab’s overall health and wellness in mind.
Like most large breed dogs, the lab grows fast but reaches maturity later than smaller breeds. Hence, this puppy food is formulated to provide the nutrition your pooch requires from the 8th week until as late as its 15th month.
Like all other large breed canines, our lab pups require extra support for their joint and bones, and the Royal Canin formulates the meal with the necessary amount of calcium and protein.
Also, because labs have distinct and water-resistant fur, the meal is made to support their fur health and skin sufficiently. The meal also contains pre and probiotics to help your lab’s intestines and the entire digestive system. This is one food I highly recommend for lab puppies because of its nutritional content and also because it is specifically formulated for the Labrador retriever.
Summary of the meal’s main features
- Fur-supporting quality
- The unique shape of the kibbles
- The health, bone and joint promoting quality
- Can be fed to puppies up to their 15th month (so, you don’t have to bother about changing meals every few months)
Why Our Puppy Labs Need Special Food
Like all large breed dogs, our labs require certain nutrients in adequate amounts to thrive and grow to their full potential. Therefore, it is important that these foods are fed to them at their puppy stage to aid in their growth and development.
Nutrients such as protein are required more by young dogs than adult dogs. Puppies also need more calories than adults. This means that they will naturally benefit more from fat and protein-rich foods. Selecting the right kind of food for your puppy will help to ensure that he is getting the best nutrition possible.
Choosing a Quality Puppy Food for Your Lab
Before anything, the first thing you want to do is ensure that the food you pick for your lab pooch is made specifically for them or for large breed dogs. After that, go by the guidelines below.
Pick Only Filler-Free Foods
You want to pick food with a recognizable and real protein source. These protein sources can include ingredients such as chicken, lamb, salmon, turkey, or turkey meal. Good quality dog foods may also contain more than one source of real animal protein.
With canines generally, you want to avoid food with plenty of grains such as corn or wheat, as these are usually filler ingredients that our dogs will not do well on because of their little nutritional content.
Opt for foods with as limited ingredients as possible and with as few grains (or even better, grain-free) as possible to minimize your lab’s exposure to unhealthy chemicals and nutritionally worthless fillers, especially at this delicate phase.
Avoid feeding your puppy lab primarily on any food with ingredients that do not seem very healthy. These may include animal parts like lungs, bones, intestines, fatty tissue, and other not-so-healthy parts. While your pup may gobble up such meals, they are not the healthiest choice.
You want to keep your pup’s food as natural as possible. So, avoid foods containing artificial ingredients. Even though these ingredients may enhance the taste of the meal, they are damaging to your pooch’s health in the long run. Instead, opt for foods made with quality ingredients; these taste good to your dog without the usually harmful additives.
You want the best for your pup, but you also want to make sure the food you pick is affordable and you can comfortably purchase another bag whenever it runs out.
While a higher quality meal will use better quality ingredients, they can be very expensive. However, there are still several moderately-priced meals like the ones I will review here that are made with quality ingredients.
On the other hand, the very cheap brands usually contain more than the “fair” amount of fillers that have no use nutritionally to your pooch’s health.
Contain Essential Ingredients
The ingredients in your pooch’s meal can either be nourishing or damaging. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are essential, with the last being more available in veggie-rich foods. Other nutrients such as vitamins A and E are necessary for a strong immune system and healthy fur.
Young labs need calcium and phosphorus to support bone and dental health while they require an ingredient such as DHA for healthy cognitive development.
How Long Should I Feed My Lab Puppy Food?
Your lab pup needs adequate nutrition to thrive and grow into a healthy, active, and energetic adult lab at the puppy stage. Your pup will suffer from malnourishment and stunted growth with the wrong or inadequate nutrition.
However, you cannot feed your pup puppy food forever. These food types are formulated to give your pup the calories and nutrition it requires to grow well from its newborn stage to a healthy, active adult within that short duration.
As growth slows at the adolescent stage, your pup will gain weight if left to continue on the high-calorie puppy food.
To prevent obesity, therefore, and to ensure that your pooch gets just what it needs, you will have to change its meal around the 12th or 15th month or once you notice that it is about the size of a full-grown adult.
You still want to be careful when making this switch to adult food. It is better to feed your lab puppy food for too long than provide it adult food too early. If you are unsure of when to switch or uncertain that you are making the switch at the right time for your pooch, you should consult your vet or an expert dog handler for a professional opinion.
Other Special Ingredients to Look out for in Puppy Food
Chondroitin and Glucosamine
With labs, you want to make sure that the essentials are not lacking. Like other large breed dogs, our Labradors have particular needs because of their large size. Two of such requirements are glucosamine and chondroitin. You may have noticed that most of the dog foods on this list already contain these two beneficial ingredients. If they are, however, not included in any meal you finally settle for, you can always get them in the form of supplements at supermarkets or pet food stores for your lab.
These two help to alleviate elbow and hip dysplasia in large dogs and also minimize the chances of occurrence as your pup grows older.
Taurine and L-Carnitine
A protein chemical, taurine is an amino acid, and it supports our canines’ heart health in several ways. L-carnitine is also another valuable ingredient that you want present in your pup’s food, and like taurine, it is beneficial for supporting and maintaining your pup’s heart health.
Most high-quality foods like those I reviewed contain these ingredients, so be sure to look out for them when buying food for your Labrador puppy.
Our fur babies deserve the best, whether terrier, bulldog, Pomeranian, or Labrador. They are loyal, affectionate and would do all they can to protect their humans. Therefore, it is only fair that we give them the best care possible, including providing them with quality nutrition at all stages of their growth.
While I focused on the best puppy food for labs in this article, you can feed other meals on the list to other breed types at their puppy stage.
If you are buying just for labs, you should consider generally buying foods formulated for them or large breed dogs, as these often contain just the right mix of ingredients needed for their growth and development.
About the Author
Kirsten created The Pet Handbook with the aim of sharing her knowledge about pets, pet food, healthy habits, and more. All of her advice is based on years of her own experience with her pets, and feedback that she has received from grateful readers about her tips. If you want to know more please read the About Me page.