Best Dog Food For Lab Puppies (2018) Buyer’s Guide
Are you having trouble walking down the dog food aisle as you look for the right food for your Lab puppy? Well, we are here to help you make a decision! Dig in our top 10 list for Lab puppies!
Labrador Retrievers are among my favorite dog breeds. They are cute and fun to have around. Giving everyone a sense of family, they are warm with people. Playful as they are, you just want to adore them and give them the best care that they deserve. This is why many aspiring dog parents want to adopt Lab puppies as their first pets.
For beginners, it is not easy understanding the intricate dietary needs of Lab puppies. It may take some time for them to get used to it or to have their way around it. In fact, even experienced dog parents have a hard time, too. Puppies have different needs than adults; so, there really is a period of confusion and adjustment.
Nonetheless, fret not. We are here to help you give your pet the tender loving care he or she needs. By providing him or her with the best meal plan and the right dog food, I am sure that your puppy will grow and live a happy and healthy life.
There are so many choices in the market. I know that overwhelming and confusing feeling you get as you walk down grocery or pet store aisles. For this year, I give you the 10 best dog food for Lab puppies!
Size (in lbs.)
Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Chicken, Brown Rice, Duck Meal Large Breed Bites - Editor's Choice
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Brown Rice, and Oat Groats
Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy
Chicken, Whole Grain Oats, Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, and Chicken Meal
Earthborn Holistic Meadow FeastNature’s Variety Prairie Real Beef & Barley
Lamb Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Canola Oil*, and Pea Protein
Nature’s Variety Prairie Real Beef & Barley
Beef, Turkey Meal, Barley, Brown Rice, and Oatmeal
Wellness TruFood Baked Nuggets Puppy
Chicken, Chickpeas, Pea Protein, Dried Egg Product, and Chicken Liver
Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Large Breed Puppy Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Split Peas, and Whole Grain Sorghum
Purina Pro Plan Savor Puppy Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Brown Rice, and Oat Groats
I and Love and You Nude Food Simply Sea
Whitefish, Herring Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Dried Yellow Peas, and Menhaden Meal
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Turkey + Sweet Potato
Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, and Potatoes
Victor Hi-Pro Plus
Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat*, and Pork Meal
*Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols
Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Chicken, Brown Rice, Duck Meal Large Breed Bites (30 lbs.) - The Editor's Choice
Calorie Content: 3,570 kCal/kg; 315 kCal/cup
Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Chicken, Brown Rice, Duck Meal Large Breed Bites is perfect for Lab puppies for its whole body approach. As its name already implies, it is formulated to develop your pet’s overall well-being.
Carefully crafted by pet nutritionists, it is rich in premium proteins and nutrients to meet your puppy’s dietary requirements. Primarily, of course, this formula supports healthy muscle development. With zinc and manganese, this dog food promotes hip and joint health.
Also, it is rich in antioxidants that maintain your pet’s immune system. For stronger bones and teeth, you can be confident in optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus.
So, you have nothing to worry about even if he or she wants to play fetch or run around every day. Further, it has balanced ratios of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These help keep your pet's coat and skin luxurious.
Then, it has sufficient levels of taurine that helps with cardiovascular (CV) and vision development.
Here is another good thing: the benefits are beyond the surface. With DHA and EPA from marine sources, your pet will enjoy neural development as well. To promote his or her digestive health, this product also comes with a unique fiber layering system— thanks to an excellent blend of grains and vegetables.
Best Chicken Dog Food for Lab Puppies: Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy
Calorie Content: 3,847 kCal/kg; 436 kCal/cup
At his or her initial life stage, your Lab puppy requires a protein-rich diet made from excellent protein sources. It is for this reason that Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy came into existence.
This best dog food for Lab puppies contains chicken as its first ingredient. With lean protein, expect your pet to gain lean muscles as well. Then, its next ingredient, brown rice, is a natural fiber that supports healthy digestion. It also has eggs that provide amino acids, efficiently improving muscular health.
Other ingredients include various vegetables. These are rich in essential nutrients that prolong your pet’s endurance, especially when it comes to physical activities.
So, you are less likely to deal with weight management issues. Then, the fruits have high levels of antioxidants that strengthen your pet’s immune function.
His or her coat and skin would also not be a problem, thanks to flaxseeds that are rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. All in all, this formula has more than 50 nutrients, creating a perfectly balanced meal.
As for non-ingredients, this product does not contain corn, soy, and wheat. So, if your pet is allergic to these ingredients, it is definitely a safe bet. Proudly made in the US, it is strictly compliant to all industry standards.
This is highly recommended for Lab puppies up to one year of age. Also, it is suitable for pregnant and/or nursing female Labs.
Best Dog Food for Lab Puppies with Sensitive Stomach: Earthborn Holistic Meadow Feast
Calorie Content: 3,520 kCal/kg; 370 kCal/cup
This dog food boasts with a unique dietary formula. For starters, it does not contain corn, gluten, grain, potato, and soy. Simply speaking, it has none of those allergens that may harm your delicate Lab puppy.
Earthborn Holistic Meadow Feast has premium lamb meal as its first ingredient and only protein source. With high protein content, you can be confident that it will develop and sustain your pet’s daily energy. More importantly, he or she will develop lean muscle mass, meeting his or her everyday activity needs. Even if he or she runs around all day, he or she will not run out of energy.
Moreover, it has a precise blend of fruits and vegetables that fulfill other nutritional requirements. The chelated minerals in these ingredients are easily absorbed by your pet’s tissues.
Obesity and weight management problems are also common concerns among many dog parents today. To help address these at a pet’s young age, this dog food has optimal L-carnitine content. As a result, your pet’s body fats are converted into muscles. This is enough to support an active lifestyle even as a puppy.
To protect your pet’s coat and skin, it provides Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These help build lipid barriers in the skin, making them more luxurious and healthier.
Overall, it guarantees maximum nutrient absorption and healthy digestion— all thanks to high quality ingredients and exceptional manufacturing process.
Best Beef Dog Food for Lab Puppies: Nature’s Variety Prairie Real Beef & Barley
Calorie Content: 432 kCal/cup
This best dog food for Lab puppies has real beef as its main ingredient and protein source. Take note, it is not just any beef but beef raised in the US. With lean beef comes lean dog muscles. Needless to say, it supports strong muscle development, providing your pet with optimal energy that meets everyday needs.
With hearty whole grains, your Lab puppy’s digestive health is far from risk. Also, Nature’s Variety Prairie Real Beef and Barley is rich in real fruits and vegetables. Aside from delivering essential vitamins and minerals, they also provide Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These are responsible for keeping your pet’s coat and skin healthy. You might think it would not matter at this particular life stage. Nonetheless, as your pet ages, you will realize how important it is to have started him or her young.
This product is made in the US. Made with nothing but the finest, natural ingredients from all over the world, it takes the form of freeze-dried raw kibbles. It has none of the following:
● Artificial colors and preservatives;
● Byproduct meals;
● Soy; and wheat
Do not be surprised why it takes pride in a great tasting nutrition. It is rich inside out! It is safe to say that your pet can take advantage of a wholesome nourishment.
Best Baked Dog Food for Lab Puppies: Wellness TruFood Baked Nuggets Puppy
Calorie Content: 3,837 kCal/kg; 395 kCal/cup
Wellness TruFood Baked Nuggets Puppy is a completely different approach of keeping your pet healthy. It is gently baked in small batches, with the biggest bag containing only 3 lbs. of food.
For this reason, it is usually used as a base ingredient if you want to create your own recipes. However, you may also serve it as a regular meal. It is relatively expensive but surely worth every penny.
I consider this as one of the best dog food for Lab puppies because it contains high quality, raw ingredients that are rich in essential nutrients. It is 100% natural and clean; so, it does not matter even if your pet is sensitive to certain ingredients. The following are its non-ingredients:
● Byproduct meals;
● Rendered meats; and
With chicken as its primary protein source, your Lab puppy will have stronger muscles growing up. Then, the DHA content from salmon oil promotes proper cognitive and eye development.
What makes it different from other choices in the market today is that it contains purple carrots. This unique ingredient has healthy phytochemical content. Also, it has anthocyanins, the antioxidant found in blueberries. These elements are responsible for the purple color we see.
As we all know, carrots are rich in vitamin A, promoting healthy eyes. What most of us do not know is that they also support CV health, thanks to the polyacetylene content.
Best Carbohydrate-Rich Dog Food for Lab Puppies: Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Large Breed Puppy Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato
Calorie Content: 3,736 kCal/kg; 379 kCal/cup
If your Lab puppy needs a diet rich in carbohydrates, then Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Large Breed Puppy Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato might be perfect for him or her.
It has farm-raised chicken as its first ingredient to deliver all of your pet’s protein needs. This has a great-tasting formula that any puppy will love. Then, for carbohydrates, it has brown rice and sweet potato. Surely, your Lab puppy will have all the energy he or she needs to stay active every day. Then, Omega-3 fatty acids are present to promote coat and skin wellness.
Other high quality nutrients include glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which support healthy bone and joint functions. Particularly, the former helps your pet’s cartilages to perform their functions— to lubricate bones as they come into contact with joints.
On the other hand, chondroitin hydrates these cartilages. It also keeps them healthy by inhibiting the enzymes that destroy them. Both of these nutrients come from chicken.
What I love the most about this product is the NUTRO FEED CLEAN philosophy employed in its formula. This means that all ingredients are non-GMO. More importantly, this best dog food for Lab puppies has no artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Definitely, it boasts with a simple and reliable recipe.
Best Probiotic-Rich Dog Food for Lab Puppies: Purina Pro Plan Savor Puppy Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice
Calorie Content: 3,926 kCal/kg; 384 kCal/cup
Digestion can be a tricky thing. This is why you need to choose what you feed your Lab puppy, carefully. Save yourself the trouble with Purina Pro Plan Savor Puppy Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice. It is rich in live probiotics that improve digestive health. At the same time, it prevents digestion problems.
This best dog food for Lab puppies contains chicken as its main ingredient. This is enough to sustain your pet’s daily protein requirements. Rest-assured, you will not go wrong with this high-quality formula.
Then, it has fish oil, which contains DHA that supports proper cognitive and eye development. This ingredient is also rich in EPA that fights all kinds of inflammation.
For a stronger immune system, there is a unique blend of antioxidants. Further, minerals such as calcium and phosphorus promote stronger bones and teeth.
This dog food boasts with crunchy kibbles that come with tasty shredded pieces. Every bite comes with delicious and nutritious texture that your pet will appreciate.
Purina is one of the most trusted dog food brands worldwide. So, if you have your doubts, you can be confident in this reputable brand.
Best Grain-Free Dog Food for Lab Puppies: I and Love and You Nude Food Simply Sea
Calorie Content: 3,532 kCal/kg; 362 kCal/cup
To provide your Lab puppy with a complete meal, I and Love and You Nude Food Simply Sea has a balanced formula of deboned meat, and real fruits and vegetables. Its main ingredients such as garbanzo beans, lentils, and sweet potatoes deliver wholesome nutrition.
Garbanzo beans and lentils are excellent sources of protein and fiber. The former also offers minerals such as iron and magnesium. It is for this reason that these two ingredients may be served as plain snacks for your pet as well.
Moreover, it is rich in antioxidants, prebiotics, and probiotics that optimize your pet’s digestive health. As one of the best dog food for Lab puppies, it also takes pride in its non-ingredients.
These include the following:
- Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives;
- Byproduct meals;
- Soy; and
Since it is free from these common allergens, your puppy is safe even if he or she develops sensitivities in the long run. Every bag is made in the US, too. This means that you can be worry-free— fine ingredients undergo a thorough manufacturing process.
Best Dog Food for Lab Puppies with Food Sensitivities: Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Turkey + Sweet Potato
Calorie Content: 3,470 kCal/kg; 347 kCal/cup
Some Lab puppies are born with food sensitivities. If yours is one of them, you need to be more mindful of what goes into his or her food bowl. You have limited options every time you shop for dog food; and Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Turkey + Sweet Potato is one of those very few.
Even if it has limited ingredients, it does not fail to provide a complete, balanced diet for your Lab puppy. With a single animal protein source, turkey, in its blend, he or she will benefit from healthy lean muscle development. Its carbohydrates are easily digestible; so, you would not have to worry about upsetting your pet’s stomach.
This product does not have any of the following:
- Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
- Soy; and
Only the most important ingredients required for proper nutrition are infused in the formula. All of these have been selected carefully to create a pure and simple recipe.
Best Dog Food for Lab Puppies That are Active: Victor Hi-Pro Plus
Calorie Content: 3,895 kCal/kg; 450 kCal/cup
If your pet has an active lifestyle, he or she needs a special diet that meets its dietary demands. In this case, Victor Hi-Pro Plus is the perfect choice.
Protein alone comprises 30% of its formula, thanks to multiple meat ingredients and multiple protein sources. 83% of this protein comes from meat; 10% from grain; and 7% from plant. Animal protein sources include the following:
- Beef meal
- Chicken meal; and
- Pork meal
Then, it has flaxseed, an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for promoting coat and skin health. The DHA from menhaden fish meal also aids in maintaining your Lab puppy’s cognitive and visual functions.
Further, it has L-carnitine, which helps control weight gain by converting unwanted body fats into energy. Other essential nutrients found in this product include the following:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Surely, this dog food meets the high nutritional requirements of active Lab puppies. The same goes for pregnant and/or nursing female Labs.
Every bag comes with a natural blend of essential nutrients. It has none of the following ingredients:
- Soy; and
It is no wonder why this is one of the best dog food for Lab puppies we have in the market today; and actually, one of Victor’s best-selling products, too.
Choosing The Best Dog Food For Lab Puppies
1. Know What Your Lab Puppy Needs
Before deciding on anything, your first priority should be knowing your Lab puppy. Factors such as his or her age, characteristics, and physical activities will play an important role in this decision-making.
Obviously, puppies and adults have different nutritional requirements. The former have greater needs, together with gestating and lactating female dogs. Breed also matters.
These things allow you to narrow down your choices into a few select products. More importantly, they allow you to devise the right meal plan for your pet.
Of course, you would not want to give your pet anything too little nor too much. This is exactly why there is a certain way of feeding pets according to their life stage. The correct feeding guide will help you provide the perfect diet for your puppy.
2. Understand Dog Food Labels
Unknown to many, dog food labels and/or names are indication of how much of a key ingredient it contains. Particularly, this applies for animal protein sources.
For example, if the dog food reads Turkey in its name, it means that turkey makes up 95% of the product. With moisture, it should make up 70% of the product.
Then, words like “dinner”, “entree”, “formula”, “nuggets”, and “platter” indicate protein content. Specifically, these mean that the dog food contains 25% of the protein source. This should not be mistaken with the word “flavor”.
For example, if you see the phrase “Turkey flavor”, it means that the dog food only contains trace amounts of Turkey. Usually, this only provides the taste of Turkey and not its nutrients.
Another keyword worth noting is “with”. When you see the phrase, “with [insert ingredient here]”, it means that the dog food has 3% of the said ingredient.
These standards are according to the Food and Drug Administration. So, it is important that you know what these mean. It will help you save time and decide accordingly.
3. Read Ingredient Lists
The ingredient list is your next important consideration. Lab puppies are omnivores by nature. It goes without saying that they need meat to survive everyday life. The circumstances where they are required to go on a strict vegetarian diet are rare.
When analyzing ingredients, keep in mind that the first ingredient of a dog food must always be protein. Whatever goes into a dog food are arranged in a descending order according to amount.
So, this simply means that protein must make up most of any product. Excellent protein sources include the following:
- Salmon; and
Pork may also be an option. However, personally, I do not highly recommend it.
As much as possible, you would not want the first ingredient to be a carbohydrate source.
These ingredients are healthy but most of them are not easily digestible. So, you would not want high levels of these carbohydrates in your Lab puppy’s meal.
4. Consider Non-Ingredients
Part of knowing your pet very well is knowing his or her medical history and health concerns. Mainly, these include his or her food intolerances. Signs of these include any of the following:
- Among others
This knowledge will play further role as you go through ingredient lists.
If your Lab puppy has food sensitivities, avoid dog food with the following ingredients:
- Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- Soy; and
These are just some of the common allergens found in dog food. They may have nutritional value but the risks are usually greater than the rewards. Like what they always say, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.
So, what can you do? Opt for the alternatives. For example, if your pet has gluten and or grain intolerance, that means he or she cannot have rice. As we all know, rice is the most practical carbohydrate source. It is cheap and quite easier to digest than corn. The alternative for this could be potatoes.
Also, you need to be on the lookout for dairy products. It is an entirely different dilemma if your pet is lactose intolerant.
5. Look For The Association Of American Feed Control Officials (Aafco) Nutritional Statement
Right around where you can find the ingredient list in a dog food packaging, you will come across the AAFCO nutritional statement. This brief adequacy statement indicates the suitability of a particular dog food.
Usually, it goes about with the phrase, “... provides balanced nutrition for all life stages.” This means that the said product is good for dogs of all life stages.
There are also products tailored specifically for adults only, for puppies only, for seniors only, among others. The AAFCO nutritional statement will depend on this adequacy.
While the AAFCO guarantee is not mandatory for dog food manufacturers, it is an indication of high quality standards. Moreover, it is a statement of unquestionable nutritional value. Without it, it is quite hard to tell whether or not a dog food is reliable.
6. Compare And Contrast The Brands
Finally, once you have narrowed down your choices, the head-to-head battle comes down to the brands themselves. It is not enough that a dog food has excellent ingredients and met all industry standards.
Most of the time, it still matters how much a brand is recognized and trusted around the world. After all, a brand would not get to the peak if it is not for years of striving to earn the customers’ trust.
On the other hand, it is also possible that a reputable brand is not that reputable at all. There could be a lot of unpleasant practices behind a great name; so, you also need to be careful.
The key here is to do your own research about the brands of your choice. Are they always compliant with regulations? Are they always ethical about their manufacturing processes? Do these big companies treat their employees well? Do they honor labor codes? Of course, every business aspect must also come into play.
What To Look For When Buying Dog Food For Lab Puppies
As I have mentioned earlier, protein must always be the first ingredient in any dog food. It is an essential nutrient that ensures your pet develops strong muscles, especially at a young age.
Protein plays an important role in keeping your Lab puppy physically fit. With lean muscles, he or she can perform any activities. In effect, he or she can meet the demands of daily life.
Carbohydrates are next to protein because they are responsible for boosting energy levels. Of course, without this energy, your pet cannot function well.
Excellent carbohydrate sources include the following:
- Sweet potatoes
- Among others
Fiber helps facilitate healthy digestion. This means that substantial amount of fiber helps those with sensitive stomachs. However, too much fiber may also upset your Lab puppy’s stomach. So, the key here is keeping consumption in moderation.
Also, it has a role in preventing colon cancer and weight gain. Further, it supports a stronger immune function.
4. Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are good for the heart, especially those from marine sources. They promote CV health and endurance. Nonetheless, the most apparent benefit is the nourishment of coat and skin. They build the lipid barriers in the skin to keep it healthy and luxurious.
Some of the best sources of fatty acids include the following:
- Black beans
- Fatty fish
- Vegetable oils
- Among others
5. Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals have various roles for the body. Some important functions include the following:
- Maintaining excellent vision
- Keeping the mind sharp
- Strengthening bones, joints, and teeth
- Optimizing heart function
- Promoting healthy weight management
Good sources of vitamins and minerals are natural fruits and vegetables. Some of the most common ones include the following:
However, vitamin and mineral supplements may be infused in dog food formulas, too. After all, fruits and vegetables do not contain all the nutrients your pet requires for a balanced diet.
Labrador puppies move in sync during meal time
Planning Your Lab Puppy’s Diet
1. Dry Dog Food vs Wet Dog Food
In the past, wet or canned dog food have always been the thing. As our times progressed, so did dog food. Today, we find that dry dog food in the form of kibbles dominate the dog food aisles.
It is more practical and convenient for daily feeding. In fact, it is safe to say that it has made life a whole lot easier for us dog parents. This is exactly why all 10 products in this list are kibbles.
So, why do I— and probably most dog parents today— prefer dry dog food over wet dog food?
First of all, it is easier to serve. You just need to pour the right portion into your pet’s food bowl and add some water to it, and you are done. With wet dog food, you still need to open cans every time you feed your pet. Not to mention that you might also make a mess given the moist nature of the meal.
Dry dog food is also more convenient in terms of storage. Since these products come in resealable bags, all you need to worry about is keeping them in a dry place at a reasonable temperature. The smell is also not as strong as that of wet dog food.
2. Feeding Lab Puppies
For Lab puppies, it is without a doubt that kibbles are the right choice. So, the question now is, how often should you feed yours?
As you already know, Lab puppies have high nutritional requirements. As a result, they need to eat more than adult Labs. Depending on the dog food brand, you need to follow a strict feeding guide. This could be provided by his or her vet. Otherwise, you may follow what is prescribed on the dog food label.
Nevertheless, what really matters is how you divide your pet’s daily meal into portions. He or she cannot consume everything in a single meal. This would only upset his or her stomach or even lead to bigger health concerns.
Ideally, when your pet is one to three months old, he or she needs to eat thrice a day. So, distribute his or her daily meal into portions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As he or she gets older, he may eat twice a day. Practically, you may divide his or her meal into portions for breakfast and dinner.
To Wrap It Up…
The Editor's Choice: Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body
For me, it is the best dog food for Lab puppies because it provides nourishment for the whole body. It is complete with all the essential nutrients that will help every Lab puppy thrive into adulthood. Protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins all work together to provide complete nutrition in a delicious meal.
Generally, there are six things you need to do when choosing the best dog food for your pet. These are as follows:
- Know what your Lab puppy needs
- Understand dog food labels
- Read ingredient lists
- Consider non-ingredients
- Look for the AAFCO nutritional statement; and
- Compare and contrast the brands
Then, the main nutrients every dog food needs to have are as follows:
- Fatty Acids; and
- Vitamins and Minerals
Do you have any other dog food suggestions that work well for your Lab puppy? What are the factors you consider when buying dog food? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts with us!
Thanks for reading!
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