Feeding your labrador puppy: what, how much, how often?

A Labrador puppy feeding from a metal bowl

As we all know too well, what we put in our belly has a huge impact on our health, vitality, length and quality of life. You really are what you eat…and it’s the same for your puppy!

But all animals are different and have their own very specific nutritional requirements – you can’t just feed your puppy the same food you eat.

Also, animals have different nutritional requirements at different stages of life and it’s particularly important to get it right for the young.

They have to strike a fine balance between getting enough nutrients to grow and avoiding an over-abundance that can lead to abnormal growth and disabling conditions.

Most people are aware that a lack of nutrition can lead to stunted growth and musculo-skeletal abnormalities, but not everybody is aware that too much of certain things can have the same devastating effects.

In this article you will learn precisely how to feed your puppy. What they can eat, what they should not, how many times you should feed them each day, basic information on home-made diets and the pros and cons of various commercial dog foods.

Contents & Quick Navigation

  • 4 Can You Feed Human Food To Puppies?
  • 5 Can You Give Puppies Milk?
  • 6 Should You Feed A Puppy Supplements? Are They Necessary?
  • 7 How Much To Feed A Lab Puppy?
  • 8 How Often To Feed A Puppy? How Many Times To Feed A Puppy Each Day?
  • 8.1 Don’t Leave Your Puppy’s Food Down All Day
  • 9 How Long To Feed Puppy Food Before Switching To Adult Dog Food?
  • 10 What Is The Best Puppy Food Brand For Labs?
  • 11 How To Switch Dog Food From One Brand To Another
  • 12 No Diet Is Complete Without Water!
  • 13 Conclusion – And My Advice For Feeding Your Labrador Puppy
  • What Do Most Labrador Owners Feed Their Puppy?

    The majority of Labrador owners feed their puppy kibble.

    Kibble is ground meal, shaped into dried biscuit-like pellets that are extremely convenient to buy, store and feed, providing everything a puppy needs in one easy to handle product.

    All the major brands carry a range of kibble and many are specifically formulated to suit the precise needs of puppies.

    Video: How To Feed a Puppy - How To Choose the Best Puppy Food

    However, like all things concerning dog food, there is a lot of debate as to whether or not kibble is ‘The Best‘ thing to feed. But there’s no doubting puppies and dogs absolutely do thrive on it.

    For our recommendations of the best puppy food for labs, please read our article on: The Best Food for Labrador Puppies.

    Don’t Change Food When You First Get Your Puppy Home

    If you’re yet to get your puppy, it’s best you ask the breeder what they are feeding and stick to exactly the same food and brand.

    Good breeders will supply you with all the information you need to feed your new puppy and you should follow this advice. If they don’t offer this, then ask for it.

    Puppies almost always get upset tummies during a change of diet. The stress of moving to a new home is enough to deal with without them potentially having tummy upset on top. So try to avoid this.

    If you haven’t been given advice or cannot source the same food the breeder was feeding, your best course of action is to buy some puppy kibble.

    There are many kibbles aimed at Labrador puppies so you won’t struggle to find something suitable at your local pet store. Simply follow the feeding instructions in the rest of this article and what’s written on the label of the food you’ve purchased and you should do fine.

    But expect your puppy to get diarrhea after such a sudden change. Please follow the advice in this article for basic treatment, simply explained: How to Treat a Dog with Diarrhea

    What To Feed A Puppy? What Can Puppies Eat?

    With a bewildering choice of different puppy foods available, what to feed your puppy may not be the easiest decision to make.

    Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the many options available so you can make an educated decision.

    You Can Feed Your Puppy Kibble

    Loose Kibble puppy food on a white backgroundKibble is ground up food, formed into pellets and dried for easy storage and convenience.

    It is a specially formulated, complete and balanced diet, containing everything a puppy needs to grow and be healthy.

    So if feeding kibble, you shouldn’t feed anything else as this will upset the nutritional balance and possibly do more harm than good.

    Kibble comes in sacks ranging from 3kg up to 15kg, with 15kg sacks ranging anywhere in price from $30 (or £20) up to $120 (or £75).

    Many people believe kibble is the best way to feed a puppy, with it being so easy to buy, store and feed while containing every nutrient a puppy needs in the right proportions. It makes taking care of a puppy’s diet extremely easy for an owner to get right.

    Wet, Complete Puppy Foods Are An Option

    Natures harvest puch of wet puppy foodAs the name suggests, complete wet food is complete and balanced, meaning nothing should be fed in combination. Everything needed is included in this one food.

    Many people remember the days of feeding tinned meat mixed with biscuit and assume complete wet food to be the same, but you mustn’t mix it with anything or you’ll upset the nutritional balance and likely over feed your puppy.

    Complete wet foods come in individual pouches or tins with one pouch or tin containing one single serving.

    Some dogs described as ‘fussy eaters’ often much prefer the real meaty flavor of wet food…although whether a dog is actually fussy or simply too highly fussed over is another story.

    You should also be aware that wet food works out to be relatively expensive compared to kibble and isn’t as good for a dogs dental health.

    Tinned Meat And Biscuit Mixer

    A tin of winalot dog foodI’m referring to the cheap tins of food such as Pedigree Chum and Winalot that you see on the supermarket shelves.

    Video: Feeding a Labrador Puppy - When, How much, Transitioning food, Core Wellness Brand

    In the main these foods are low in nutrition, contain a high amount of cheap fillers, by-products and water and need mixing with a biscuit to give them some substance and to make them more complete.

    Because the food is such low quality, you have to feed a lot of it. And what goes in, must come out. So this way of feeding leads to a lot of waste, can make your dog ‘gaseous and smelly’ and really doesn’t help during house training with the frequency they have to eliminate.

    This type of feeding was popular decades ago and I do remember my parents feeding our first dogs this way, but most people have moved on from this and are feeding their dogs in better ways now.

    Raw Food, BARF And Home-Made Diets

    barf, bone and raw meat for dogsRaw feeding is a diet that consists of mostly raw meat, edible bones and animal organs, though most practitioners also mix in small portions of fruit, veg and selected other foodstuffs.

    Sometimes described as the BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) the aim is to closely match what a dog would have eaten naturally in the wild.

    There are many people feel strongly that this is the best possible way to feed a dog. They may well be right and I simply don’t have enough knowledge on the subject to say.

    But I would caution most people that to feed this diet successfully, you need to do A LOT of research, gain a lot of knowledge and truly understand a dogs nutritional needs to make sure they get exactly what they need in the right amounts.

    This is particularly important during a puppy’s periods of high growth.

    Personally I’m yet to research this diet in-depth, don’t feel I have the time to dedicate to the preparation of the food and am more than happy to feed kibble anyway. My dogs have always thrived on it and the convenience can’t be beaten.

    Conclusion – And My Advice For Feeding Your Labrador Puppy

    Either kibble or a home-made raw-food diet are the best ways to feed your puppy.

    It’s still hotly debated but might be true that raw feeding is the best possible and most natural way of feeding, but it requires a lot of specialist knowledge and time to prepare meals.

    However, dogs thrive on kibble, it has everything they need and is extremely easy and convenient for an owner. Personally I feed kibble myself.

    Video: How much can a lab eat?

    Choosing a brand and how much to pay is a very common question and it has to be said you do get what you pay for. However, you shouldn’t feel pressured into buying the most expensive brands, just stay away from the lowest quality and cheapest.

    There are many medium priced kibbles made from good quality ingredients you can choose from and be confident that you’re providing well for your puppy.

    The age to switch from puppy food to adult food should really be decided by your puppy’s growth. When they are close to full adult height is best. Don’t switch before 6 months, but really, anytime after is OK and you don’t have to wait until 12 months old as written on most labels.

    If you decide to change brand keep in mind that you should do so slowly over 7 days or more. And you should expect at least some tummy upset and loose stools for up to 2 weeks. This is perfectly normal.

    As a final word: There’s not only raw food and kibble, there’s also wet foods, tinned and some specialist diets to consider. Ultimately, what you feed is your decision and you should pick what best suits you, your puppy and your wallet.

    Whomever you talk to and wherever you ask, you’ll meet with different opinions at every turn. From trainers, vets, breeders and other experienced owners, everybody has their own advice and favorite brands with two people rarely agreeing.

    Just find something that works for you, that your puppy thrives on, and then stick to it.

    Finally, please click here to see our article reviewing the best 4 puppy foods for labs.

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