I could write a book on feeding my Labradors, different mixes and diets I've tried, vitamin supplements, suggested magic food mixes that give bright eyes, sleek coats and keep their bowels working properly.
We tend to forget that our dogs are natural scavengers who will happily gulp down a maggoty rabbit carcass, other dogs vomit and sheep pooh.
Labradors, in particular, will eat virtually anything, some prefer to eat scavenge and pooh than the food we buy for them.
We, as responsible owners, must make sure that what they eat is good for them, a good quality kibble (dry food) supplemented with fresh fruit, veg and some lightly cooked meat or fish should take care of all their dietary requirements.
A dog is a natural scavanger and will eat almost anything it can find
Dry Labrador Food (Kibble)
Unless your Labrador has a particularly sensitive stomach or needs a highly specialised diet It doesn't make sense feeding them on £100 sacks of Mr Gormets organic, high-end vegan super doggy mix made from Kuma berries, cracked heavenly rice, Hoagy root, sap from the jumjum tree and goodness knows what other exotic ingredients laced with a list of supplements as long as my arm.
A £20 sack of Skinners 23 supplemented with some fish, rabbit or chicken and a few bits of apple and carrot will be wolfed down just as readily by your ever hungry Lab' and will give him all the nutrition he needs.
The dog food industry is a gold mine for the Mr Gormets of this world, the only real benefit from a sack of hyped up dog food is the 80% markup going into his bank account.
Most of the foods we buy are for our satisfaction, not our dogs, we buy the brand we feel best about giving our pal and believe that we are providing (so the marketing tells us) a well balanced healthy diet.
You may feel happy spending £100 a sack but your dog will not appreciate that fact. He would be far happier if you spent that extra cash on a few more toys.
The four things you need to think about when choosing a dog food are:
What intolerances or special dietary requirements your dog has.
Is it free from foods that are bad for dogs (such as chocolate, sugar and brassicas)
Does it provide a balanced diet
Does he like it
Wet Labrador Food
Unless your Labrador has a problem with eating kibble we recommend staying away from pre-packaged wet foods, canned foods and chum rolls are a definite no-no.
We are not slamming any canned food manufacturers as many go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that what goes in the can is a well prepared balanced diet.
Many dogs who have been fed on tinned food like Pedigree Chum for their whole lives and seem to fare pretty well but we have yet to figure out how Chum, a bucket of slops used for fishing bait, can be made into a pedigree food.
The issue with wet foods are:
- No matter what the claims are you can never be certain what is in the can
- They are not good for teeth and gums
If you have a dog which has to have a wet food diet we suggest two solutions
1. Buy from wet food manufacturers such as Forthglade of Devon who does not use cans but supply tubs of fresh (as they can make it) specialist foods with high meat content and excellent natural ingredients with no sugars, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
2. Make your own, this way you know exactly what your Labrador is eating, speak to your vet first as you may need to add vitamin supplements to your concoctions.
Check out the list of harmful foods, such as onions, brassicas, avocado, mushrooms etc.... Then get creative with meat, fish veggies etc... don't forget to add roughage (bran flakes, cooked oats or Weetabix) if he is grain free then sweet potatoes, pumpkin or steamed green beans can be added.
You'll soon find out what recipes he likes, then you can batch cook and freeze foods, much in the way we do for ourselves.
Get one of our recommended recipe books in our Dog Food Section to help you get started.
Labrador Food - Treats
Obesity is the biggest health issue for Labradors, 45% of them lack the "tummy full gene" which tells them to stop eating, and they will eat and eat and eat.
Your Labrador should be on a strict diet with his daily food allowance weighed out and given in 2 or 3 portions over the day.
Then after making sure he eats the right amount of healthy food, we go out for walks or do some training and spoil it all by stuffing him with fatty commercial treats.
Most commercial treats are very fattening, look at the small print on most of them which tell you to use as part of his daily diet, and they lack nutrition.
Treating your Lab is essential but stay away from commercial treats, here's how.
- If he's on kibble take some out of his daily allowance and give him a couple of bits as treats, that way he's still been treated without eating above his recommended daily amount.
- If you want to give him some variety try making your own treats and weighing in the days treat allowance with his daily food
- Giving him fruit or veg as treats, carrot sticks, apple wedges and bits of pumpkin work well.
In season I give mine blackberries they are loaded with antioxidants to fight free radicals in your dog, and also have plenty of fibre and vitamins, too. plus they are free. I pick mine when out walking then take them home and wash them before sharing with my pooch.
Check first as not all fruit and veg are good for your dog.
Labrador Food Round Up
I've recommended some of the foods I found to work well, for dogs with different dietary needs on our Dog Foods Page
If your Labrador has no special dietary requirements I've found the family-owned firm Skinners produce the best working dog food, made at their own mill in Suffolk they have 19 different dietary mixes to suit dogs at all stages of life.
Just like humans, dogs will react differently to foods and where one may happily chomp away at a bowl of Wainwrights, it may give another diarrhoea.
I recommend not feeding your Labrador with canned/wet dog food, chum rolls or with anything of which your not sure of the ingredients.
Our puppies are started on 'Step Up to Naturals' supplemented with fresh fruits, veg and fish.
When choosing Labrador food the most expensive is not necessarily the best, a good quality dry food with added fruit and veg will keep your lab happy and healthy