A well-balanced Labrador Retriever diet is vital to keep your pet healthy and happy. Your pet’s well-being depends on what foods you serve, how often you feed him, how much you feed, and what kind of treats you give. Since we all know that Labrador Retrievers eat just about anything, it is important that pet parents find – and maintain – a nutritional meal plan for the optimum health of their dogs.
Importance of Proper Labrador Retriever Diet
As the pet parent to a Labrador, you can have a direct influence on your dog’s health by feeding him the right nutrients. The Labrador Retriever diet requires a good balance of all essential nutrients and make sure these form part of your dog food. Supplement the diet with vitamin/mineral tablets or natural, organic ingredients when your dog needs something “extra.”
For example, if your Lab has itchy, flaky skin, you can try adding a fatty fish, such as salmon or sardines to meals. The extra B-complex vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids in the fish work to heal skin tissues and promote cell growth. Dogs with diarrhea can benefit if you add a tablespoon of non-fat plain yogurt to food. The acidophilus bacterium in the yogurt helps get the good intestinal bacteria in the gut back in tune.
University studies have shown that a diabetic dog needs less insulin if the Labrador Retriever diet is supplemented with brewer’s yeast or foods high in Vitamin E – asparagus, cooked spinach, dried apricots, and dried basil have all been shown to reduce the need for insulin.
Additionally, the correct Labrador Retriever diet – plus exercise – keep your Lab fit and ready to play, combating the canine obesity seen in some Labs. An overweight Lab is prone to heart disease, diabetes, kidney issues, and joint problems. By determining your dog’s energy needs – or calorie count – throughout the stages of their life, you can keep them energetic and in lively trim all their days.
Labrador Retriever Diet: Necessary Nutrients
Like all living things, your Labrador Retriever diet requires six basic nutrients for the optimal health of your dog.
- Water promotes digestion, helps regulate body temperature, transports material throughout your dog’s body, and gives the body its shape and flexibility. Your Labrador Retriever needs free choice water during the day.
- Carbohydrates provide the energy necessary to keep your Lab healthy and active. Recorded in the form of calories – or energy units – the number of daily calories needed by your dog depends on their age, weight, and the activity level. Typically, a young adult, active Labrador needs between 1500 and 1875 calories per day depending on his body weight, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Pregnant and nursing Labs need almost 700 calories more than that daily. Older, inactive dogs and puppies need considerably less.
- Proteins and amino acids are the principle structural component of your dog’s body organs and tissues. Because proteins are constantly broken down by the body, they should be replenished in your Labrador Retriever diet daily.
- Fats and fatty acids are the most concentrated source of energy in your Labrador’s diet. They comprise more energy value than carbohydrates by 10- to 15 per cent. These nutrients are essential for the normal development of nervous tissue, and for regulating the inflammatory responses after injury.
- Minerals are inorganic substances that comprise the fundamental building blocks of your Labrador’s organs and tissues. They allow materials to pass through cell walls and aid in muscle contraction.
- Vitamins are present in minute amounts in most natural foods. They are essential to your dog’s normal canine metabolism. Vitamins also play a significant role in blood clotting, bone development, and eye function.
Labrador Retriever Diet: Homemade or Commercial Food?
As more and more pet parents look into what kinds of foods are going into their own bodies, it is only natural to begin questioning the types of foods fed to their Labradors – and making different choices.
Manufactured, processed dog food has been the norm for generations of dog owners. It is convenient, has nutrients listed on the label for all to see, and keeps for a long time in the pantry without refrigeration or freezing. On the downside, manufactured Labrador Retriever diet may have preservatives, binders, and emulsifiers. Many of these additions have been found to be detrimental to a Labrador’s health.
If you choose to make your Lab’s meals yourself, you will want to learn as much about canine nutrition as possible, including how much of each nutrient to include in each meal, and how to get that with natural, organic foods.
You will also want to decide if cooked or raw meals are on order for your pooch. The proponents of “BARF,” or “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food,” say the diet – consisting of raw meat, uncooked bones, and pulverized vegetables and fruit – mimics what dogs would eat in the wild. It also provides a more nutritious plan than foods, whose enzymes and amino acids have been altered by cooking.
Opponents to this type of diet cite their concerns regarding the risk of bacterial contamination and illness. They also warn about potential dietary imbalances and internal injury from un-chewed bones.
Labrador Retriever Diet: What Not To Feed
Labradors can – and will – eat most foods that their pet parents eat. However, there are some things that no dog should ingest. Foodstuffs that you must avoid in your Labrador Retriever diet include:
- grapes and raisins
- onions and chives
- significant amounts of garlic
- macadamia nuts
- milk and milk products
All of these foods contain chemicals or ingredients that can be harmful to your Labrador. You will need to see your veterinarian immediately should your dog eat any of these foods.
Please Note: Remember to always check with your veterinarian before changing foods or supplements if your dog needs a veterinary-prescribed diet.