Labradors are one of America’s favorite breeds thanks to their spunky, energetic personality and loyal disposition.
Whether you are an experienced lab owner or you are welcoming your first lab into the family, food is one of the most important items you will need to purchase for your loyal friend.
Are you wondering what brands are safe for your dog and what important factors you need to consider when choosing one?
Continue reading, and we will help you understand how to choose the best dog food for labs in this buying guide. Find out which brands our experts recommend for this breed and what you should pay attention to when comparing labels.
Top 10 Dog Foods for Labs Comparison Table
|1. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food - Potato & Duck Formula||Adults with Allergies||$$$||4.6|
|2. Victor Dog Food Select Hi-Pro Plus Formula for Active Dogs and Puppies||Puppies & Active Adults||$$$$||4.5|
|3. AvoDerm Natural Dog Food||All Life Stages with Joint Problems||$$||4.5|
|4. ZiwiPeak Air-Dried Dog Cuisine||Puppies & Adults||$||4.5|
|5. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food||Adults with Sensitive Stomach||$$$||4.5|
|6. Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food||Adults with Grain Allergies||$$$||4.4|
|7. Natural Balance Fat Dogs Dry Dog Food||Overweight Adults||$$||4.4|
|8. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Oatmeal, 30-Pound Bag||Adults with Sensitive Stomach||$$||4.4|
|9. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food||Overweight Adults||$||4.4|
|10.CANIDAE Life Stages Dry Dog Food for Puppies, Adults & Seniors||All Life Stages||$$||4.3|
Don’t Purchase Food Because of a Photo
Since the lab is one of the most popular breeds on the plant, dog food manufacturers often choose them as their brand mascot.
Does seeing a Labrador on the label mean that the food is good for labs? Absolutely not.
Many factors that determine whether food is suitable for your dog or not and the picture on the bag is certainly not one of them.
Instead, you Should Consider the Following:
- Age. Some formulas are designed for all life stages while others are more suitable for adults only or puppies only. Do you have a puppy, adult, or senior lab to feed?
Puppy formulas typically contain slightly higher concentrations of protein, fat and certain minerals while adult formulas contain less.
Once your lab reaches his “golden years” (which can be anywhere between 7.5-10 years of age), a senior formula is most appropriate since it contains higher concentrations of joint-friendly ingredients. Some formulas also contain less protein for dogs with kidney-related issues.
- Activity Level. Working dogs need more calories than house dogs do, so make sure you adjust the food quantity accordingly. Do you have a couch potato lab or one that accompanies you on hunting trips? If it is the latter, you might consider trying food with higher protein levels to fuel their busy bodies.
- Allergies. Grain-free recipes are most appropriate for labs who are actually allergic to grains. Some owners prefer to avoid them thinking that they are healthier, but many dogs can digest grains without a problem. If your lab has a sensitive stomach, grains like rice might help aid their digestive system.
Remember that grains aren’t the only culprit; many dogs have protein allergies, too. Is your lab allergic to the beef or turkey in the formula? If so, look for a limited ingredient diet that only has one protein source and simpler ingredients until you can pinpoint the allergen.
- Health Conditions. Does your dog need a special vet-recommended diet because of a health condition? Is your dog overweight? If so, speak with your vet to help choose the right food for him.
Food should never be chosen based on the breed but rather on the individual needs of the dog. Size does play a role in the decision-making process, but it isn’t the most important factor.
What Works for Labs
So, obviously, there are some foods that work better for labs than others do. Which ones are they?
- Regular Formulas. As a medium-sized breed, there are actually many formulas that work great for labs.
Avoid large breed formulas that are intended for breeds like Great Danes, Bullmastiffs or Bernese Mountain Dogs that can reach an adult weight of 70 pounds or more.
Regular adult formulas or regular puppy formulas work great for this breed, both nutritionally and in terms of kibble size.
- Large Kibble. Kibble size matters. To help ensure that your lab is chewing the food rather than swallowing it whole, make sure that you opt for large kibble; this will force them to break it down with their teeth before swallowing, which is important for your dog’s dental health and to help him digest more easily.
- Low-Fat/Low-Calorie Food for Overweight Labs. If your furry friend is a bit on the pudgy side, then help him slim down by providing him with a low-fat and low-calorie food. Cutting down the portions of their regular food will only leave your dog hungry and begging for table scraps, but a low-fat and low-calorie meal will leave him feeling satisfied with fewer calories.
Top 5 Best Dog Food for Labs Reviews
If you are trying to pinpoint an allergen or if you already know what your dog is allergic to, then a Limited Ingredient Diet might be the best solution for him.
This particular formula contains duck and potato, so if your dog digests both without a problem, then try it. There are no grains in the formula, and Natural Balance does not use any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
A diet like this just isn’t for labs with allergies; it also helps minimize the chance of developing food sensitivities, which is why so many dog owners trust it.
Natural Balance has many different flavors to choose from, so if duck and potato isn’t right for your lab, try a different one!
Is your lab used for working, perhaps as a hunting companion, therapy dog or rescue dog? If so, Victor’s Hi-Pro Plus formula is a good choice.
You can also use this for puppies since it is formulated to keep up with their growing bodies. You will notice that it is not a grain-free food. However, it does not contain any corn, soy, wheat or gluten. The food consists of 83% meat protein, 7% plant protein, and 10% grain protein.
Unlike many other dog food brands that suggest a gradual 7-day brand switch, Victor recommends that you make the switch over the course of 10 days. They also have other formulas if your dog isn’t as active, so check out this brand if you want a healthy, affordable option.
AvoDerm is another one with many different formulas to choose from, but we found that their Joint Health formula was particularly effective with adult dogs that are more prone to problems in this area of the bod – labs, for example!
The chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine help promote healthy joints, and since it is grain-free, dogs who have sensitivities or allergies to grains will do well on food like this.
If your lab is healthy, active and doesn’t seem to be suffering from any joint-related aches or pains, then check out some of the other formulas AvoDerm offers. It is best for dogs who have started to show signs of joint problems or if you have confirmed with your vet that he needs more support in this area.
ZiwiPeak is the best dog food for labs, small breeds, mixed breeds and everything in between thanks to the high-quality ingredients that they use in the formula.
It is grain-free, the meat comes from grass-fed animals raised on free-range farms, and their gentle way of air-drying the food helps to preserve it more naturally. Pathogenic bacteria are still eliminated in this process, so it is safe and healthy for your dog.
ZiwiPeak’s feeding chart has portions for dogs that weigh up to 66 pounds, so if your lab weighs less than that, this formula will work. An adult that weighs 66 pounds will eat approximately 263 grams (9.3 ounces) of food in a day.
The problem for many owners, however, is the price. Committing to a monthly purchase or bi-monthly purchase of this food isn’t easy for many families, especially for those with multiple dogs. If it fits in your budget and your dogs like it, then go for it. If not, consider one of the other great formulas on our list for you loyal lab.
Labs with a sensitive stomach might do well on this chicken meal and brown rice recipe. Some foods are just too rich for dogs, making it difficult for them to digest. The fiber in brown rice is gentle on the digestive system, and dogs who don’t suffer from chicken allergies and have a sensitive stomach typically do well on a formula like this.
It also contains live yogurt cultures and digestive enzymes that help sensitive tummies to break down the food properly. If you know that your dog’s digestive problems are related to the kibble, then switch to this one. It might solve his problems!