By Andrew Fischer
How often should I feed my Labrador?
We discussed this issue with many canine diet experts. Most of them recommended that your Labrador eats about 2 cups a day. But you should really go by looking at his bodyweight, size, activity levels etc.
The ideal amount you should feed your Labrador varies depending on his age, build, activity levels and the type of food you are giving him.
If you decide to feed your adult dog raw meat, once daily feeding is usually fine. If you decide to feed kibble, it’s recommended to feed your adult dog twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
If you have a puppy (from 8-12 weeks of age) you should feed him four meals a day. Space the meals around 3-4 hours apart. This will give your pup enough time to digest each meal before the next serving. Also, don’t forget to serve the last meal around 2.5 hours before your pup’s last trip to the toilet before going to sleep.
When your dog gets 3 months old you should divide the daily ration into three portions and by 6 months of age, two portions a day are enough.
Optimal kibble serving sizes for Labradors per day
Recommended quantities for each specific kibble brand should be consulted on kibble packaging as feeding quantities will vary quite widely from kibble to kibble.
Consult the recommended portion size for your chosen food (this usually varies significantly from brand to brand). Divide the recommended daily amount into two, three or four portions (depending on your pup’s age) and serve them throughout the day.
Also, if your dog is overweight, you should feed him about one fourth up to one third less than recommended on the packaging for a few days and than weigh him again.
The following serving sizes change depending on the food you give to your Labrador. The servings below only apply to the most common types of dry kibble.
40 – 45 lb (18-20 kg), serving size: 205 – 225 grams per day
45 – 50 lb (20-23 kg), serving size: 225 – 240 grams per day
50 – 55 lb (23-25 kg), serving size: 240 – 260 grams per day
55 – 60 lb (25-27 kg), serving size: 260 – 275 grams per day
60 – 65 lb (27-29 kg), serving size: 275 – 295 grams per day
65 – 70 lb (29-32 kg), serving size: 295 – 310 grams per day
70 – 75 lb (32-34 kg), serving size: 310 – 320 grams per day
75 – 80 lb (34-36 kg), serving size: 320 – 340 grams per day
80 – 85 lb (36-39 kg), serving size: 330 – 360 grams per day
85 – 90 lb (39-41 kg), serving size: 340 – 370 grams per day
90 – 95 lb (41-43 kg), serving size: 350 – 390 grams per day
If you prefer to feed your pup a raw diet, it’s best to consult your veterinarian about how much to feed your Lab.
The basic rule that applies to both kibble and raw/homemade diet is that you should feed your dog so that he doesn’t become underweight or overweight. Clear signs of underweight dogs include visible vertebrae, hip bones and ribs.
Your pup may be overweight if you can’t easily feel its ribs when running your hands along its ribs. Also, if you can see fat deposits along his tail, back, ribs and nape your dog may be overweight.
A great sign of healthy weight is that you can see your dog’s abdominal tuck when viewing him from the side.
A full article on optimal Labrador weight can be found HERE.
Feeding Labrador Puppies
Talk to your breeder about the best diet for your puppy. You should stick with his familiar food for the first few days because changing homes is already quite traumatic for your puppy. Feeding him his favorite familiar food for the first few days will make the moving process more comfortable and protect your pup’s tummy.
If you cannot contact the breeder then you can buy some kibble food for puppies in your local pet store. Make sure to study the feeding instructions carefully as various kibble brands can have significantly different nutritional values and thus recommended feeding quantities.
Solid food is usually introduced at 8 weeks of age. You should transition the pup slowly to solids over the duration of 1 month. At first you can wet the puppy kibbles with water and allow it to soak for few minutes before serving to your pup. Continue to do so over several weeks. Every day you can use a bit less water to soften the food.
How much raw food should I feed my adult dog?
The ideal dog’s portion depends on many factors including their activity levels, metabolism, body build, weight etc.
You should consult your veterinarian if your Labrador has any special dietary needs or health conditions that affect its food intake.
Some general guidelines for feeding your adult healthy active dog raw food diet can be found in the table below. The portion sizes below are rather on the lower range of recommended servings. The serving sizes should be taken only as a rough guide and you should consult your veterinarian about the perfect portion size for your individual dog. The serving sizes below are per day for dogs that reached their full height. This usually happens around the 12th month of age for Labradors.
40 – 45 lb (18-20 kg), serving size: 1.2 lb – 1.4 lb (550 – 650 grams) per day
45 – 50 lb (20-23 kg), serving size: 1.4 lb – 1.6 lb (650-730 grams) per day
50 – 55 lb (23-25 kg), serving size: 1.6 lb – 1.7 lb (730-780 grams) per day
55 – 60 lb (25-27 kg), serving size: 1.7 lb – 1.8 lb (780-830 grams) per day
60 – 65 lb (27-29 kg), serving size: 1.8 lb – 2 lb (830-920 grams) per day
65 – 70 lb (29-32 kg), serving size: 2 lb – 2.1 lb (920-970 grams) per day
70 – 75 lb (32-34 kg), serving size: 2.1 lb – 2.3 lb (970-1050 grams) per day
75 – 80 lb (34-36 kg), serving size: 2.3 lb – 2.4 lb (1050-1100 grams) per day
80 – 85 lb (36-39 kg), serving size: 2.4 lb – 2.6 lb (1100-1180 grams) per day
85 – 90 lb (39-41 kg), serving size: 2.6 lb – 2.7 lb (1180-1240 grams) per day
90 – 95 lb (41-43 kg), serving size: 2.7 lb – 2.9 lb (1240-1315 grams) per d
The data in the table above are for healthy active adult dogs only. Less active and senior dogs usually need a bit less food, around 40 % less than the servings in the table above.
How much raw food should I feed my puppy?
Puppies (in the case of Labradors dogs younger than 12 months) should have different serving sizes than adult dogs. They need more energy in order to grow healthily.
2-4 months old dogs should be fed around 8-10% of their bodyweight per day
4-5 months old dogs should be fed around 6-8% of their bodyweight per day
5-8 months old dogs should be fed around 4-6% of their bodyweight per day
8-12 months old dogs should be fed around 3-4% of their bodyweight per day
12 month dogs and older should be fed around 3% of their bodyweight per day
More information on feeding meat to puppies can be found HERE.
What's the best food for my Labrador?
Many experts nowadays agree that in order to keep your dog in good condition, it’s necessary to feed him a “balanced diet”.
Many Labradors thrive on kibble, and many of them also thrive on raw feeding (BARF). Choosing the best dog food for your dog therefore also depends on your own circumstances.
Dry kibble is probably the most popular and convenient type of food nowadays. However, there are certain disadvantages connected to this type of food. One problem that is on the rise since the appearance of dry kibble are dog is allergies. Other disadvantages of dry kibble include its smell and fillers. Dry kibbles are full of fillers that are not fully digestible by dogs and pass directly through their digestive system. These fillers make your dog’s poo much smellier and force your pup to poop more often.
Dogs that are fed only dry kibble may also need their teeth to be cleaned more often.
Raw feeding (meat and bones) is more and more popular lately. This type of feeding is obviously not as convenient as dry kibble feeding since it requires more planning, preparation, freezer space and good hygiene. On the other hand dogs that are raw fed have better dental health, produce smaller quantities of odourless poop and are less prone to allergies.
As you see, both raw feeding and dry kibble have its pros and cons. If you have small puppy it may be better to feed him kibble. If you have small children, kibble is also safer since it’s more hygienic. If your dog suffers from allergies, oral hygiene, smelly poops and bloating, he may prefer to be fed raw.
Does your Labrador always seem hungry?
Labradors have a specific gene mutation that makes it harder for them to feel full. This leads to them always looking hungry and begging for more food. Labradors are great at feigning hunger.
The best way for you to evaluate whether your dog is permanently hungry is by looking at his body. There are clear signs of your dog being overweight or underweight.
Clear signs of underweight dogs include visible vertebrae, hip bones and ribs. Clear sign of overweight dogs is if you can’t easily feel their ribs when running your hands along their rib cage area.
Also, if you can see fat deposits along your dog’s tail, back, ribs and nape your dog may be overweight. Another great way to make sure that your dog eats sufficient portions is by sticking to a specific regular feeding schedule and closely monitor the amount of exercise and treats given daily.
To summarize, Labrador puppies that are younger than 12 weeks should be fed four meals a day. Pups that are between 3 and 6 months old should be fed three times a day. Older dogs only twice a day. The feeding quantities are different from kibble to kibble so you should consult these on the packaging. Some general average quantities can be found in the table above.
Every dog is individual so you should choose the manner of feeding that best suits you and your pup. There are no definite answers and the number of opinions is huge. You should also consult your breeder and veterinarian if you have some specific feeding issues.